Billy Biscuit and Full Shift shine in Milborne St Andrew point to point
The South Dorset Hunt, at Milborne St Andrew
CHIPPING Norton trainer Tom Lacey and jockey Sam Drinkwater scored a double with debutants Billy Biscuit (2m 4f maiden) and Full Shift (3m maiden) at Milborne St Andrew on Sunday. The former took advantage of a penultimate fence melee when favourite Scotch Dry And Ice fell, hampering Buster who unshipped Matt Hampton, while Grey Dream and Rock Of Fife fell and refused independently. Homebred by owner Tim Curtis, Billy Biscuit is from a good family including dual Cheltenham Festival winner Weapon's Amnesty, Grand National runner-up Black Apalachi and top chaser Weird Al.
Charlie Brooks' four-year-old Full Shift put in a deeply impressive performance to out gallop his 16 rivals. "We've always thought he was special and think he could be a real Saturday horse [capable of competing in the highest class races]", felt Tom.
Crank Hill came from way off the pace to retain the Hunt race trophy under Tim Hampton. "You never think he's going to catch them, then he does it so easily", smiled Thornicombe trainer Mary Tory. "He was even further behind at Bratton Down and Lockinge last season, but Tim knows him so well". Crank Hill is now unbeaten in his five completed points to add to his close second in Cheltenham's 4m 1f hunter chase in May.
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The Keith Cumings-trained Certain Flight was an equally easy winner of the Men's Open under National Champion, Will Biddick. "I would say that's his best race ever and proves he stays 3 miles as well as having lots of speed and acceleration", said owner Richard Dunsford. "It's his first win in an Open, but if he could win another he'd qualify for Cheltenham, which would be a real treat".
Master Medic defied unfavoured conditions to land the Ladies' Open under Emily MacMahon. Trainer Sally Alner said: "He'll probably go to Badbury Rings at the end of the month and we'll aim him at Wincanton's Lady Riders' Hunter Chase on 14th May".
Batu Ferringhi provided a real family success with his impressive win in the Restricted. "Trained by me and owned by me, my husband Ed and my father Mike Wright", beamed Claire Hitch. A hunter chase campaign is on the cards.
Barneys Mate won the Novice Riders' race for the third year running under Martin McIntyre.
Combined Services at Larkhill, Saturday 9th February
DIVINE Intavention is fancied to retain the Coronation Gold Cup Men's Open, one of the season's four national Classic races, at the Combined Services meeting at Larkhill on Saturday. Runner-up to Gone To Lunch in the 2011 contest, and a 25-length winner last season, Divine Intavention is ideally suited by Larkhill's right-hand course and the likely good going. The 14 entries include the Sally Duckett-trained Horse & Hound Cup runner-up That's Rhythm, but the progressive Mendip Express won well at Larkhill last month and he may be the one to challenge Divine Intavention.
Course specialist Description, runner-up to subsequent winner Master Medic here in January, looks the one for the Ladies' Open.
Tallow Fair, a good runner-up at Barbury Castle before finding conditions too testing at Chaddesley Corbett, is the selection for the Combined Services Club Members race.
Mendip Express and Parstara hold entries for the Novice Riders' Intermediate race and can fight out the finish if taking this option. In their absence, Chaddesley Corbett winner Trouble Digger gets the vote.
Gioiello won well at Barbury in December and can follow up in the Restricted. Dingley winner Intimate Whisper and Bellsinni Ron look the strongest challengers.
The card is completed by two Maiden contests. Bitofapuzzle and Mrs Firs are two for the Mares race. Subtle Sovereign was runner-up in a Wincanton hurdle race in October and can go one better in the Horses and Geldings event.
The card also includes the King's Troop RHA Club Members race and the Royal Artillery Hunt race, transferred from the abandoned Royal Artillery meeting. The former is best watched, with so little form available for punters. Stan and Sally Rawlins' Righteous Glory should retain the Hunt Members' race, although Lee Tibbatts' Insured, Harriet Besent's Deimne and Godfrey Maundrell's Minor Chord can give the favourite plenty to think about.
First race: 10.45am. The course is NW of Amesbury on Salisbury Plain.