A combination of excellent watering by Martin Tory and his team and the unexpected rainfall last week produced going at Badbury Rings which several riders commented that ' this was the best going they had ridden on this season' and left many owners and trainers ruing their decision not to enter the meeting. From a modest entry 26 horses took part on a pleasant spring day which was well attended by an enthusiastic crowd. It will be a day that 16 year Liam Harrison will remember as he rode his first double of his riding career for trainer Sally Alner and came close to adding to this with two further seconds for the same stable. Moscow Prices continued his love affair with Badbury when scoring in the Mixed Open race whereas the most impressive winner of the day was the mare Country Legend in the finale.
Liam who is based at Neil Mulholland's stable at Limpley Stoke near Bath only started riding point-to-point horses this season and rode his first winner for trainer Sally Alner in December last year aboard Tom Barton. He began the day at Badbury riding the six year old mare Helford for Sally and joint owner Patsy Todd from Witchampton in the younger Maiden race. With only two horses declared the race turned into a tactical affair with The WinningTipster ridden by Patrick O'Connor still leading until making a bad mistake at the third last and giving his rider no chance of remaining in the saddle. Helford who had been bought from local trainer Annie Bacon was completing for the first time this season. Sporting new colours which Patsy described as ' burgundy and claret' she explained that she had been involved with the Alner stable for many years going back to the Club Ten partnership with Sally's husband Robert.
Liam secured his double in the following race, the Novice Riders, when the striking grey Apple's Queen held off the challenge of De Boitron ridden by Kiana James-Thomas to win by seven lengths. Previously a good third at Milborne St Andrew in March he was wearing a first time tongue tie which Nicky Turner, one of the joint owners, thought had helped him to see out the race well. Owned by Nicky, Patsy Todd, Sally and Kevin Lloyd this was his first win for a couple of seasons having looked very promising in 2017. Liam was keen to credit Andrew Doyle with starting his connection with Sally's yard and mentioned that he had just had a ride at Cologne, Germany in the Fegentri series ( he finished sixth) where he had carried the weight of 9 nine 5 pounds compared to his normal 12 stone that he has been used to carrying!
Tom Barton tried his hardest to give Liam a treble on the day when making virtually all the running in the Mixed Open race. He looked to still be the likely winner approaching the final fence but Lucy Mager had other ideas and galvanised Moscow Prices on the run in to secure a two and a half lengths victory. Owned jointly by Lucy and Kim Tripp he has to race left handed to be effective and this was his second victory at Badbury Rings this season and his seventh career win.
Milberry was a popular winner of the Restricted race for Piddletrenthide trainer Richard Mitchell. Watched by both Richard's sons Tim and Nick the eight year old was following up on his win at Larkhill and is clearly still on the upgrade. Ridden by Charlie Davies he had three lengths in hand at the winning post from nearest challenger Lawsons Thorns ridden by Gordon Treacy. Tim who was one of the area's leading riders in his heyday when riding for Richard Barber joked to his father that he never rode a point to point winner for him during his long career.
Lure Des Pres was a narrow winner by a neck of the Open Maiden when ridden by Nick Lawton and once again depriving Liam who was riding Phar Island of a treble on the day. Owned and trained by Mike Vanstone near South Molton he has taken his time to break his maiden tag but had run well behind the smart Foxworthy at Larkhill last season. Mike explained that Neil and Harriet Bryant had just joined the partnership that own the gelding and they had travelled up from Plymouth to witness the win. Neil mentioned that they had previously been involved with Mike and Linda Blackford with Pertemps Profile who won for them over ten years ago and is still enjoying his retirement with them at home at the age of 23.
Country Legend was a very easy winner of the Confined race for Tom Bishop. She had thirty lengths in hand over the gallant Trueflyingcolours at the winning post having dominated the race once she got to the front. Recording her third victory this season Tom advised that 'she travelled well and put herself right at a couple of the fences cleverly'. The plan had been to look for an Intermediate race and originally they had intended to go to Barbury Castle. However after the heavens opened and the ground eased the Badbury option became the choice. The option of an Intermediate is still available with an outing at either Stafford Cross of Upcott Cross being the most likely later this month.