RICHARD Barber saddled runners in three races at Larkhill on Saturday and won with all three - Urban Hymn, Thomas Brown and Barneys Mate completing a memorable hat-trick for the Seaborough trainer.
Graham and Jan Calder’s Urban Hymn made all the running under Will Biddick and already had the second division of the Maiden in safekeeping when Virtuoso Rouge fell three out.
Urban Hymn had fallen in both his previous outings, but has always been highly regarded at home. “He beats Frankel on the gallops,” joked assistant Ciara O’Connor.
“We always thought he was one of our better youngsters,” agreed Barber. “We wanted to wake him up today, although we left the tactics entirely to Will. The horse has finally done on the course what he does at home.”
Biddick doubled up when Thomas Brown maintained his unbeaten record in the Restricted contest.
“Paul Warren, Edward Dolan Abrahams and I bought him after he’d won at Ottery”, said Graham Calder.
“We stay at the Corse Lawn Hotel when we’re racing at Cheltenham. The hotel is run by Barbara Hine, who sponsors Thomas Brown and gave us her late husband Denis’ colours to race him in.”
Barneys Mate took his career tally to 19 under Martin McIntyre in the Novice Riders’ race.
The 13-year-old led entering the straight before holding Emily Rucker’s renewed challenge aboard Petit Lord.
Okeford Fitzpaine trainer Sally Alner took both the Open contests with Jayne’s Crusader and Master Medic.
Jayne’s Crusader and Matt Hampton finished alone after sole rival Osric pulled up three out after setting a ferocious gallop.
Master Medic put in a superb round of jumping to hold Quedillac, who damaged his chance with a penultimate fence blunder.
“Master Medic kept jumping his way to the front,” smiled Emily MacMahon.
“I said ‘slow, slow, slow’ at every fence, so he speeded up. He’s so scary that I’ll wear darker goggles next time so I can’t see the fences. My car can’t go as fast as him.”
Charlie Brooks and Tom Lacey may have suffered a reverse with Virtuoso Rouge, but their policy of using English point-to-points to showcase young horses produced another potential star when four-year-old debutant Knight Of Noir landed the first division of the Maiden.
The gelding was cautious at his early fences, but produced an impressive turn of speed when Sam Waley-Cohen asked the question after the second last.
Tony and Heather Kemp’s Bay To Go stormed impressively clear under Claire Hart to take the Connolly’s Red Mills qualifier from Little Cornham, the only horse apart from subsequent Cheltenham Foxhunter runner-up Divine Intavention to test the progressive Mendip Express this season.
Bay To Go is now unbeaten in both outings for Tony and Heather since being purchased from Andrew and Ruth Pennock at Brightwell’s Ascot February Sale for £6,000.
“Outsider of three” backers were rewarded when Charles Whittaker’s Starburst Diamond made all in the Hunt race.
“I let him find his own pace, got him to enjoy himself and he picked up when I asked him”, said Alice Mills, who has now ridden two winners, including former top chaser Taranis, from four rides for Whittaker.
The day's two pony races were won by the Seavington’s Ben Godfrey (age 11) riding Mocking Bird in the 138cm race and the Avon Vale’s Sophia Stainer (15) aboard Just Jack (148cm).