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05 December 2011 Scene & Heard: Point-to-Point Owners' & Riders' Club Day 1 - Barbury Racecourse

by Carolyn Tanner

MASTER MEDIC: Returned to full health with a well-fought Mixed Open win
photo: Jackie Oliver

Master Medic, who was trained by Robert Alner to win several Chases and is now in the care of his wife Sally, returned from illness to take the Mixed Open from another former useful Rules performer The Polomoche, who failed by just a head to peg back his rival on the run-in.

"He was a very sick horse with muscle enzyme problems all of 2010," explained Sally, "and he didn't really come right until February."

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The ten-year-old, who still carries the colours of Jim Chromiak and Pell-Mell Partners, for whom he won under Rules, was a 50th success between the flags for jockey Sam Allwood, who knew his mount well from the time he spent as the Alners' stable amateur. Sam now has half a dozen Pointers to train at his yard in Shropshire, and in addition to Sally's string will also be riding regularly for Oliver Greenall.

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Master Medic was led up by J D Moore, the National Novice champion in 1998 when he too was based at the Alner yard. The son of Irish trainer Arthur Moore, though, left Sally tearing her hair out when he took his charge from the paddock before the "horses away" signal. "He's b.....ed off with my horse!" she exclaimed, only to be laughingly told "Don't worry, that's the way they do it in Ireland!"

The following day J D, who is currently based at East Garston, near Lambourn, had his first Point-to-Point ride in Britain since 1999 when partnering the Sally Duckett-trained Calusa Shadow into fourth in Division Two of the Horses & Geldings Maiden.

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Will Biddick combined with trainer Richard Barber to complete a double, although there were some who felt there was doubt about the result of the first leg, the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate, in which the jockey and his partner Trueflyingcolours parted company virtually on the post, but the outcome of a stewards' enquiry, held to ascertain whether Will had hit the ground prior to crossing the line, left the original placings unaltered.

"I've never experienced anything like it," said Will. "He headed straight towards the lorry park when he hit the front, then when we were past it he still wanted to head backwards to it!"

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The queue of people wanting Trueflyingcolours when he retires may have to wait awhile yet, as the son of Dushyantor is only a five-year-old. "He's a fun little horse, and I wouldn't like to see him carrying 12.7 in a Men's Open," said owner Bill Dupont, who considered that Ladies' races might be an option for the winner on account of his size.

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Sam Waley-Cohen, third on Rumbavu, then headed off to Sandown where he finished fifth in the listed Handicap Hurdle on his father Robert's home-bred Rajdhani Express.

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The former successful hurdler/Chaser According To John, making his debut for owner Ray Geddes, provided the second leg for the Barber/Biddick combination when taking the Club Members Conditions. "Ray's had to be patient for two years," said Richard, explaining that According To John had been kept off the course the previous season due to a minor problem with a hock.

The trainer was sporting a black eye, the result of one of his charges throwing its head back and smacking him in the face the previous day.

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"I sent for an entry form for Ascot Sales," admitted Ray, "because I thought that if he drags round at the back he can belong to somebody else."

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"He was third to Denman in the Royal & Sun Alliance when God was a kid." Ray again, recalling one of According To John's finest hours.

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One who could have a sales date sooner rather than later is the Restricted winner Kiss Me Twice, who trainer Tom Lacey said may have an entry at Cheltenham on Friday. "He got kicked on the elbow in the field at the end of last season. It knocked him sideways and he's taken a long while to get over it," reported Tom, adding "He's better than a Pointer."

Owner Marc Jonas was absent, as he had been when Kiss Me Twice won his Maiden on this track in April. This time he had preferred the lure of a day's shooting.

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"He was very green and kept looking round when he hit the front so I had to keep him up to his work," said Kiss Me Twice's jockey Sam Drinkwater, who rode as a Conditional for a few months this year before reverting to amateur status in October. "I'd hoped to stay professional," he admitted, "but things didn't work out."

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Declarations for the Brightwells 2m4f Maiden for four and five-year-olds reached the maximum of 16, but the stewards chose not to use their discretion to divide. This was considered by many to be a surprising decision, especially with so many inexperienced horses involved, and also the fact that racegoers may have felt short-changed with only five races scheduled

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Victory went to Zac Baker on Topthorn, owned by trainer Sarah Bosley with breeder Ian Stephenson, Lucy Vollaro and Anne Ballard. The plan had been for the grey to sit fifth or sixth, but his jumping had taken him into the front rank early in the race. His only blemish came at the last, where Zac was forced to make a fine recovery when thrown up his mount's neck.

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"When I first saw him he couldn't even trot," said Sarah. "He was a big backward baby in Bumpers, and it was always the intention to go Pointing. He's very boisterous," she continued, "like a playful 18-year-old thug, or a big Labrador puppy."

One thing about which Sarah is adamant is that Topthorn will not be transferred to her husband Martin's licensed yard this year. "He's staying with me for the rest of the season," she stated firmly. "We want him to have lots of fun."

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Sarah was full of praise for Zac, who works for Martin and who had done all the schooling with Topthorn. The 17-year-old, who has been riding out for the Bosleys since the age of 12, was cheered on by his brother, flat jockey George, who is still sidelined after breaking his arm. "He lives near, so I told him to come and watch," said his younger sibling, who uses the saddle on which Martin, Sarah and George have all ridden winners.

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There were some heavy falls on both days of the meeting, but luckily the riders escaped relatively unscathed. The main sufferer was Heather Kemp, who sustained rib injuries when Or Bleu came down in the Conditions race, but although moving somewhat gingerly she was able to be present the following day to watch Gidam Gidam finish third in the AGA Ladies' Open under Claire Hart.

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