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Countryside Alliance (Wessex) at Badbury Rings
Sunday 25th February 2018
by Bob Bracher

The drying wind at Badbury Rings produced a change in the going to firm for the Countryside Alliance (Wessex) meeting held on Sunday but although it was cold it was sunny all day and the good crowd enjoyed an excellent afternoon of racing. Five of the six races were won by horses trained in the Wessex area with the highlights being a smooth success for Caid du Berlais ridden by Will Biddick in the Wessex National Mens Open race , a second career victory for Kiana James- Thomas in the Novice Riders Race and a first ever double for local rider George Hiscock.

George began the day with a comfortable victory in the Club Members Conditions Race aboard Boygojumping owned by local vet Martin Peaty together with his wife Kathryn. Relishing the faster going the six year old gelding was recording his third career at Badbury Rings and had too much in hand for Trueflyingcolours ridden by Katy Lyons. Another tilt at a Hunter Chase is likely to be on the cards for this improving gelding.

Caid du Berlais beat the only other finisher Mr Sawyer in the Wessex National Mens Open Race by an official distance of six lengths. This was the first time he had been ridden by the champion jockey Will Biddick who described his winner as having 'lots of gears' and that today had been 'all about riding him in a race and getting to know him'. Watched by one of his owners Chris Barber, son of Paul Barber, his next outing is scheduled to be in the Cheltenham Foxhunters where he will be partnered again by Will. Clearly acting on this faster surface he should run a big race at the Festival now that his enthusiasm for racing has been rekindled by his trainer Rose Loxton.

Owner Janet Ackner certainly experienced the highs and lows of owning and training horses for after her horse Anolysse Moriniere had fallen in the first race with jockey Nathan Vergne breaking his collarbone she then saw her horse in the Mens Open Golden Doyen pull up injured. However her fortunes changed with the success of De Boitron ridden by Kiana James-Thomas in the Novice Riders race. By coincidence Kiana's only previous winner had come on this horse exactly 12 months ago at Great Trethew in Cornwall. Kiana who works for Janet who looks after 16 hunters in the Devon and Somerset Staghounds country revealed that she carried four stone of lead in the saddle. The gelding was sent down by Yorkshire trainer Sue Smith to go hunting with permission to run in point-to-points and he is certainly an excellent schoolmaster for Kiana.

Caid du Berlais's previous rider Harriet Tucker notched up another victory, her fourth of the season, when she rode Bistouri D'Honore to victory in the Skinner's Ladies Open race. Following long- time leader Aikideau ridden by Katy Lyons Harriet took up the running at the third last and drew clear to win by ten lengths. Now owned by the Maverick Partnership which consists of trainer Mike Felton and his wife Lucy, Tom and Mary Ryall and Paul Nicholls he was acquired from Paul's yard at the end of last season to run in point- to-points and he could be a force in Ladies races for the rest of the season. The horse had previously made his racecourse debut at Badbury Rings but that did not end so happily as he unseated Stan Sheppard at the first fence!

The Restricted race provided the only winner for a horse trained outside the Wessex area when Silent Warrior trained by Elizabeth Brown and ridden by Nick Phillips made virtually all the running and won by 10 lengths. Acquired from Charlie Longsdon the faster ground seemed to suit the six year old who his trainer described as a nervy individual who has needed to have a hood on him whilst standing in the lorry and is accompanied by a Connemara pony. Nick Phillips, who is having a good season so far, was recording his fifth victory of the campaign.

George Hiscock, 26, recorded his first career double when winning the Maiden race on his father Dick's Doctor's Differ. Trained by George near Plush he was bought at Ascot for £1200 in March 2017 having run only once in an Irish point-to-point where he was pulled up on heavy ground. He ran just the once for George last season when finishing second in a maiden at Holnicote in May. He was another horse to appreciate the faster going which he had been waiting for. George's partner Charlotte Brown was keen to give credit to Ange Barrow for the work she has done with the horse since last season. George, who rode his first winner on Master Billyboy at Littlewindsor in April 2010, has now ridden 13 winners in his career so far.

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