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Wilton at Milborne St Andrew
Saturday 23rd March 2019
by Kirsty Boutflower

An enterprising call by the Wilton Hunt to stage a Bumper at their meeting certainly paid off when the race proved so popular it had to be split into 3 divisions. The race is designed to introduce young horses to racing and all three showed some very nice individuals. The first (and quickest) division went to Grumpy Charley and Bryan Carver who looks certain to repay connections handsomely after impressing with his classy display for owner Geoff Thompson and trainer Chris Honour. Geoff used to sponsor Chris in his riding days and was keen to support his training career. The second division went to the Chris Barber trained Getaweapon ridden by Martin McIntyre, who had been shrewdly picked up by co-owner Ed Bailey at Doncaster Sales for £7,000. He knew his job well and will now be offered for sale. The third division went to the less fancied Petit Petard for trainer Ben Clarke and owners Colin and Julie Bright. They had purchased the gelding as a foal from Candy Mathias and were delighted at the turn of foot he showed. All three winners look to be worth following when they progress to going over obstacles.

Two tough and classy mares by the late lamented Midnight Legend were on show in the following two races and they proved that they definitely weren't the weaker sex. Country Legend is trained by Frances Bishop and although Arcal Fifty tried to out battle her to the line, the mare had enough determination under Tom Bishop to hold him off to take the Restricted. A lovely looking mare, she showed her run behind the improving Tuff Nano at Charlton Horethorne to be good form and her long term destination will be as a broodmare for the Bishop family. Area Steward Terry Hamlin has long been a "lucky" owner and his River Myth built on her fine second to Navanman last time when cosily taking first Conditions Race under Darren Andrews. River Myth is owned in partnership with John Gardener and he has just purchased her half-sister. Trainer Stuart Sampson spoke fondly of his charge admitting "she wears her heart on her sleeve" and that she had clearly enjoyed the quicker ground. Stuart was also responsible for Athreeothree who was 5 lengths away in second but no match for the winner.

The Mixed Open looked as though there could be an upset when early leader Woodfleet resolutely refused to let odds-on favourite Jack Snipe adopt his customary front running role. Indeed Jack Snipe's jockey Will Biddick confessed afterwards that he found it impossible to get past the leader early on but this tough and genuine gelding who is trained by Rob Hawker wasn't willing to go down without a fight. As Jack Snipe's delighted owner Pam Pengelly said in the winner's enclosure, "he stays all day and is now qualified for the Horse and Hound Cup at Stratford" Trainer Rob used to ride the horse out at former trainer Jeremy Scott and has picked up a very willing recruit to the pointing sphere.

Navanman is another who relishing his pointing this season and by winning the second Conditions Race was taking his tally to 5 wins this term and one ahead in the leading horse title. The eight strong partnership had initially intended to purchase a young horse from the sales but trainer's son Mikey Heard recommended the purchase of Navanman from David Pipe's where he works. For jockey Bryan Carver this was his second winner of the day and according to trainer John Heard doesn't need to be given any instructions on the horse. The horse will probably head to Trebudannon next on Easter Monday.

The Open Maiden was won by Normandy Soldier for Ces Mitford Slade with perennial bridesmaid Ballyjim once again filling the runner-up spot. A surprised trainer who does so well with horses by the sire of this horse, Apple Tree, hadn't expected him to have enough speed for the shorter distance but jockey Matt Hampton was full of praise for the horse who was only having his second run. A full-brother to Winter Soldier, he will eventually go under rules.

The finale was an additional race and brought in after the South Dorset lost their meeting in February. A combined South Dorset and Wilton Hunt Members, it went to Boher Call who had taken the South Dorset event last season and clearly loves this course. With only the 3 runners, Imogens Thunder was made odds-on but in a thrilling finish George Bingham held off the fast finishing favourite with Theatre Evening only another length and a half away. Trainer Kate Bandey said "my horses always seem to run well here! I am just delighted they managed to get the race back on after losing the previous fixture."


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