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South Dorset
Milborne St Andrew
Sunday 1st February 2015
by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The Plantation Picnic Club's Alskamatic goes straight to the Cheltenham Foxhunter after winning the South Dorset Ladies Open. The nine-year-old was prominent throughout under Claire Hart and forged clear when Chloe Newton brought market rival Ghizao through to challenge in the last half-mile. Alskamatic has now won four point-to-points, an Exeter hunter chase and finished runner-up in Cheltenham's 2014 Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Point-to-Point Championship Series Final from his 19 races. "We've deliberately given him a light campaign of two points in advance of the Foxhunter," said Kingsclere trainer Richard Bandey. "He qualified via last season's hunter chases and hopefully he'll get an automatic place in the starting line up. We would be delighted if he finished in the first 10, but it will be a marvellous sporting day out for the Club."

Oxfordshire trainer Alan Hill took the training honours with a double with Bonhams Mens Open winner Harbour Court and Minella Theatre (Novice Riders' race). The former, fifth in the 2014 Cheltenham Foxhunter, finally wore down Cock Of The Rock (Harry Cobden) after jumping the last six lengths in arrears in third place. "He looks well, he's jumped super and he's won, but he's won ugly and that's disappointing, as he's a better horse than that. He actually looks like he needs a four-mile race at the moment," admitted Alan. Minella Theatre regained the lead from Barneys Mate after the last to give Albert Chandler, who works for Alan, a second career success.

Royal Artillery Hunt race winner Impact Area continued his rapid rise through the ranks by taking the Restricted race. Harriet Besent's nine-year-old grey gelding raced prominently under Louis Muspratt before drawing well clear over the final four fences.

Racecourse debutants took the two divisions of the 3-mile Maiden. The Jack Barber-trained five-year-old Charmix, a €3,000 French purchase in July, only needed to be pushed out by Will Biddick after leading four out in Division 1. "Will says they've gone no gallop so he had to get first run before one of the others did. Charmix is for sale now," said Jack, now on the eight-winner mark for the season. Tom Lacey's Village Mystic is also for sale after crossing the line with his head still in his chest under trainer Sam Drinkwater in Division 2. "He hasn't been out of first gear today," smiled Tom. "I bought him out of a field in Sussex and liked him so much I gave the owner the amount he asked for. I think he's one of the best horses we've ever had and hope to sell him in the next few days."

Rockmills Lad benefited from the application of a Grakle noseband to take the 2m-4f Maiden. "He wasn't finishing his races over three miles but the Grakle noseband has aided his breathing and the shorter trip has helped him get home," summed up New Forest owner-trainer Rob Sparks.

Turtle Boys, who showed the benefit of a first-time tongue tie, recorded his third Milborne St Andrew win when taking the Hunt race under Ben Clarke.

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