by Brian & Gill Armstrong

Spectators enjoyed an excellent day’s racing at the South Dorset Hunt’s point-to-point at Milborne St Andrew on Sunday. There was a double for rider Michael Miller and a dramatic finish to the Countryside Alliance Club Members Novice Riders race. 

The opening 12-runner Restricted race went to Out The Black, who led after the second last for a comfortable 10 length success under Dominic Alers-Hankey. The horse is one of nine horses trained by Caroline Keevil at Charterhouse and is owned by ex-Mendip Farmers Hunt Chairman James Drummond who bought the horse privately last summer.

Nick Mitchell won the South Dorset Hunt Members race for the tenth time when partnering Kestle Mill to a very easy success. Kestle Mill, who had benefited from a wind operation, is trained at Weymouth by John Roberts for Newquay holiday park owners Dave and Alison Gamble who were not present having just returned from their own holiday in Europe.

Charlie Strong looked to have the Ladies Open in safe keeping when blundering at the last and giving Polly Gundry no chance of staying in the saddle. This left market rival Ease The Pressure and Rachael Green to record an eight length success from Frank Byrne, with Wink And Whisper in third. Ease The Pressure, now unbeaten in his five point-to-points in this country, is trained at Seaborough by Richard Barber and carries the familiar white and pale blue colours of owner Ray Geddes.

The Men’s Open went to Jill Miller’s Miss O’Grady and Michael Miller, who headed longtime leader Badger Beer at the second last for a very comfortable 20 length success from stable companion Oscar Wilde who passed Badger Beer close home. This was a 14th career success for Miss O’Grady who may be in her last season with trainer Sally Alner before embarking on a stud career.

There was a dramatic finish to the Countryside Alliance Club Members Novice Riders race when leader Mouseski fell at the second last, hampering Kingston-Banker who unshipped rider Harry Wallace, and leaving Cherokee Boy well clear. However, Harry remounted Kingston-Banker, set off in pursuit and to great cheers from the crowd closed the gap to just 1¾ lengths at the line. Cherokee Boy was a second career win for 19-year-old Cattistock owner/trainer/rider Martin Atkinson, currently enjoying a gap year before going to University in October.

There was another close finish in Division One of the Confined Maiden when Captain Random headed The Sycophant close home with King Of Swing back in third. Captain Random is trained at Bineham by rider Jane Reed who owns the horse in partnership with Long Sutton’s Diana Bell, enjoying her first point-to-point winner. Captain Random runs in the familiar royal blue, red and gold colours carried with distinction by Mr Golightly in the late 1990s.

Michael Miller completed his double in Division Two on Dursey Island, who finished a distance clear of Emerald Mist and Let’s Rock, the only other finishers. Dursey Island, who has been hobdayed since last season, is trained locally at Milton Abbas by Sarah Clarke for Hilton farmer Michael Cox and Carol Williamson-Jones of Mappowder.