by Brian & Gill Armstrong

A huge Easter crowd enjoyed some fine racing at the Portman Hunt Point-to-Point held at Badbury Rings near Wimborne on Saturday.  Spectators were able to watch six races, the highlights of which were riding doubles for Michael Miller and Daryl Jacob. The equine star was Free Gift, who remains unbeaten this season after recording his fifth victory.

The meeting began with a very close finish in the Confined Hunts Race when Masalarian, ridden by Lucy Bridges, just prevailed by half a length from Skip ‘N’ Tune ridden by Michael Miller. The latter slipped on the bend approaching the last fence and this may have cost her the race. Lucy reported that she had been contacted by J D Moore, son of Irish trainer Arthur Moore, last year to ask if she could find a home for Masalarian and she offered to accept him as a gift. He suffers from problem legs and Lucy and her mother Helen, who trains the horse, have looked after him very carefully.

Miss O’Grady was an easy winner of the Hunt Race for owner Jill Miller and rider Michael Miller. The mare may have just one more run before retiring to stud.

Free Gift continued his impressive record by easily winning the Novice Riders Race under Daryl Jacob. This was his first success away from Larkhill Racecourse, but he proved equally adept at running on a left hand course.  Plans for him are uncertain but he may be put away for the remainder of the season.

Friar Waddon was a game winner of the Mixed Open Race after a fine ride by Michael Miller. Beadnell Bay had led virtually throughout the contest, but after jumping the last fence he ran away to the left leaving his main rival Friar Waddon to make up ground near the rails and eventually score by a neck. This was owner Peter Clarke’s first victory at Badbury Rings, despite having had a number of runners here in the past.

Hello Roscrea, ridden by Rilly Goschen, proved a comfortable winner for Steven and Sarah Dixon when he won the Restricted Race. The horse had previously won the Hunt Race at the Wilton meeting, but this was a much stronger contest. The gelding took up the running between the third and second last fences from long time leader Darcy Mae and drew away to win by 10 lengths.

The Maiden Race was won by a very promising six-year-old, Trust Fund, ridden by Daryl Jacob and trained by Sally Alner. The horse, who is owned by Bridgwater show jumper Tim Collins, was bought as an unraced four-year-old at the Derby Sales in Ireland. The owner is currently in Rome attempting to qualify for the Athens Olympics, but his wife Lada and friend Arnold Sendell were present to greet the winner, who could be a name to follow as he rises through the ranks. Arnold explained that Tim and Lada do much of the initial preparation for his horses and they were instrumental in putting Kingscliff through his first steps towards becoming a racehorse.

The Eric Dymott Memorial Novice Riders Trophy for the leading novice rider at Badbury Rings this season was won by Daryl Jacob and was presented by Eric’s widow, Mrs Brenda Dymott.