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New Forest at Larkhill
Sunday 17th March 2019
by Bob Bracher

A blustery cold wind blew across Larkhill during the afternoon but this did not deter racegoers from enjoying an excellent afternoon's racing on good ground. With a modest entry of 57 for the 6 races there were concerns that there would be a scarcity of runners but this proved to be incorrect with 43 horses declared to run which produced a percentage of runners to entries to over 75%. The highlights of the meeting were a smooth victory for Green Winter in the Timico sponsored Mixed Open, a double for owner Tim Underwood and rider Phil York and a welcome victory for Richard Mitchell with his Milberry in the Open Maiden race.

Green Winter, who was making his seasonal debut in the Mixed Open race had a great battle with Tom Barton over the final three fences and had four lengths in hand at the winning post. Owned by Sarah Oliver who describes her gelding as 'a horse of a lifetime' this was his tenth career point to point victory and his second at Larkhill. Previously the winner of the last three runnings of the Crudwell Cup at Coldharbour this stamina test may again be on his agenda in 2019. He has been ridden by Zac Baker in all of his races since the beginning of 2016 and clearly it is a partnership that both horse and rider have great regard for as Sarah added that ' as soon as Zac appeared to saddle him Green Winter started whinnying'. He is now trained by James Ridley who has his stable in very good form.

There was drama at the closing stages of the Intermediate race with the clear leader Black Jewel ridden by his owner Gordon Hopkinson looking to have secured an easy victory. However in the shadow of the post his weight cloth fell off and his disqualification was inevitable in the following stewards' enquiry. This left victory to Tree Sparrow ridden by Bryan Carver which provided a memorable weekend for his trainer Camilla Scott who had saddled two winners at Cothelstone the previous day. Owner by John Pengelly and related to the prolific County Derry who was a stable star for the Scotts Tree Sparrow does need good ground to show his best form .

Richard Mitchell from Piddletrenthide near Dorchester had an upturn in his fortune when his Milberry ridden by Charlie Davies beat the favourite Montarlot ridden by Shane Quinlan by six lengths in the Open Maiden race. His form in his native Ireland had been very poor having been pulled up six times and when he arrived in England last November he regularly pulled himself up in his work so his future looked bleak. However a chance meeting between Richard and Dan Drake, a former point to point rider proved to be the turning point as Dan asked Richard if he had anything to ride and Dan became Milberry's regular work rider. A promising close third at the last meeting proved not to be a fluke and he was a ready winner of the race. A beaming Dan said that 'this win had given me so much pleasure' and Richard added that his last point to point winner was Tricky Tangler in 2009 at Kingston St Mary when ridden by Dan.

Tim Underwood has his horses in good form and he celebrated a double at the Wiltshire course. Firstly his recently acquired mare Bluebell Sally trained by his daughter Sarah Braclik near Henley was a very easy winner for Philip York in the Mares Maiden race. Previously owned by Julia Oakey she had run well on her UK debut at Monmouth last month but had only been with Tim and Sarah for a week so Tim felt that all credit should go to her previous connections for this win. Sarah has one other horse in training for her father namely the ex- Charlie Longsdon gelding Ready Token.

Tim's double came in the Restricted race when Streets of London beat Gunner Road by two lengths. A promising five year old he was supplementing a win at Barbury Castle last month and he may be out again at Penshurst in an Intermediate next weekend if he comes out of this race in order.

The meeting concluded with another win for Coco Live in the Novice Riders race. Already the winner of his last three races for owners Harriet Waight and Stan Rawlins he was ridden by Matthew Fielding who had previously triumphed aboard the gelding at Badbury Rings. He went clear after jumping the third last but having looked like he was going to record an easy victory he became rather lonely in front and only held the fast finishing Ballycahane ridden by Milo Herbert by half a length.


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