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By Jamie Arrowsmith Thursday 03 January 2013 Updated: 10/01 16:38
THE HARKAWAY Club defied the weather to stage their point-to-point meeting at Chaddesley Corbett on Friday morning, on a day when the stamina of spectators was tested as much as the horses.
Himbleton jockey Phine Banks and Horsham Lad scored a shock victory over the odds on favourite Promising Anshan in the AGA sponsored Ladies Open.
There was not much between the five runners at the final open ditch but the race developed in earnest as they climbed the hill where Big Game Hunter, Horsham Lad and Promising Anshan settled down to fight out the finish.
Horsham Lad was relishing the muddy conditions and had seen off the challenge of Big Game Hunter at the second from home but as he started to drop back Gina Andrews was poised to make her challenge.
The confidence of favourite backers quickly evaporated because Promising Anshan could not summon up sufficient reserves to pass Horsham Lad who stayed on dourly to prevail by a length.
“Horsham Lad was Fergal’s first winner when he started training under Rules, so the horse is special to us,” reported winning trainer Jelly O’Brien. “Phine rode well and did exactly what we agreed prior to the race.”
With her daughter weighing in, the jockey’s mother Christine explained: “We acquired Horsham Lad after we asked if we could have first refusal if my sister and brother-in-law William and Angela (Rucker) decided to sell.”
Miss Banks works for the Ministry of Defence and as owner/rider the 24-year-old picked up a plethora of AGA goodies from their representative David Simpson after the race.
Race times had been brought forward 30 minutes in anticipation of multiple divisions later in the day, but due to the conditions these failed to materialise.
Gloucestershire jockey Sam Drinkwater enjoyed a successful day with two seconds and a winner and he could be a major player in this years Riders Championship.
Drinkwater used similar tactics on all three occasions and as a result he returned with his colours in pristine condition while everybody else was covered in mud.
He sent Le Burf to the front from the start of the Conditions until they were passed by Silver Token in the home straight and then fought back bravely to get within three-quarters of a length of the winner as they passed the judge.
Drinkwater went one better in the following Restricted when Trouble Digger fought off the persistent challenge of Prof De L’Isle over the final two fences before another second place was secured by Dammam in the Mens Open.
Dammam finished runner-up to Cottage Oak and that horses connections were dreaming of Cheltenham glory after the race. Co-owners Richard Hewitt and Cheshire trainer Joe O’Shea fear nothing with this nine-year-old son of Flemensfirth and have an ambitious programme mapped out for the future.
Zara Phillips was out of luck with her two runners. Fiddle Faddle was pulled up in the Non-Rules Runners Maiden which went to I Believe while stablemate First Watch went at the final open ditch in the open Maiden which was won by Bringinthebranston the second leg of a double for Welsh owner/Trainer David Brace.
Results: Harkaway Club Members Conditions - 1st Silver Token 14/1, 2nd Le Buef, 3rd Vic Venturi; Harkaway Club Members Restricted - 1st Trouble Digger 7/1, 2nd Prof De L'isle, 3rd Roseyroo; AGA Ladies Open - 1st Horsham Lad 7/1; Promising Anshan, 3rd Big Game Hunter; Mens Open - 1st Cottage Oak 5/2; Dammam, 3rd Officier De Reserve; Harkaway Club Members Non-Rules Runners Maiden - 1st I Believe 14/1, 2nd Shales Rock; Harkaway Club Members Maiden - 1st Bringinthebranston 6/1; 2nd Aboo Dreamer.
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