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Burton scores on first ride at Bicester

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ANNABEL Burton made a dream debut between the flags when Earlshill gave her a winner on her first ride at the Bicester Hunt with Whaddon Chase meeting at Edgcote on Sunday's rescheduled Bicester fixture.

Burton was overjoyed to strike on the 12-year-old, owned and trained by her mother, Jane Burton, at Wormleighton, near Southam, in a match for the Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race, sponsored by Gade Homes.

Encouraged to take the reins by her older sister, Lucy, who also broke her duck on Earlshill when he was with Tom Ellis, Annabel tracked 1-4 favourite Kilbrew Boy and Charlie Case before producing her mount to challenge at the second-last and he held on gamely to win by a neck.

Annabel, 18, who works as a nanny, said: "It was absolutely brilliant. It was like going hunting, but not like hunting. It was so exhilarating. We train the horse from home. Lucy is normally the point-to-point rider and she said have a go on Earlshill. I have an old cob and I show and hunt him."

Proud mum Jane added: "It's fantastic to win the hunt race. We have been trying for a while. Lucy was second here last year on him. It's a bit of a dream."

Harry Arkwright was thrilled to be back in the winner's enclosure for the first time in four years after Muckamore took the PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 1), for Novice Riders, sponsored by Bentley, High Wycombe.

His last success had come at this track on Susquehanna River in 2019, but a recent second at Higham on Muckamore, who was completing a double for Francesca and Charlie Poste's Ettington yard, near Stratford, suggested his time may be near again.

Taking the initiative from Shoal Bay at the sixth-last, Arkwright kept up the gallop on the nine-year-old and although Oliver Boyden's mount rallied up the straight a mistake at the second-last put paid to his chance.

Arkwright, who drove out the gelding - owned by his parents Johnnie and Arabella Arkwright - to score by two lengths, said: "He went up that hill so well, but you don't remember how long the run in is, so it was a bit of a heart in mouth moment. It's been a long time. Charlie puts so much effort in and Fran even more. I thought I had to put in more and to get a result is a dream. It's awesome to be back here."

Charlie commented: "It has taken time for Harry and the horse to gel as a partnership. A return to a more galloping track suited him well and it's nice to see him get the job done. It's been a while between drinks for Harry."

The Postes' double had been initiated by Royal Infantry, who pulled victory out of the fire in the Tattersalls Cheltenham Four and Five Years Old Maiden to give Zac Baker a winner on his 29th birthday.

Having made much of the running on the son of Solider of Fortune in the 2m 5f contest, Baker looked booked for minor honours when Busby Way and Ballynaheer swept past coming up the home straight.

But Royal Infantry stayed on powerfully up the hill to collar the pair and score by a length and a half from Ballynaheer, with Busby Way, whose chance was compromised by a mistake at the second-last, a head back in third.

Baker said: "When they quickened past me, I thought they would come back to me because I had a target and he stayed on best. He is a big, raw baby. He is more a potato than a chip!"

Bought for £40,000 at the Goffs UK Doncaster Spring Store Sale last May, Royal Infantry has a wildcard entry at the Tattersalls Cheltenham April Sale on Thursday.

Francesca, who owns the four-year-old with her husband, added: "We have always loved the horse and we were gutted he got beat first time out and then he was brought down at the first last weekend."

Dale Peters took the day's riding honours with a double on All The Ammunition in the Six Years Old and Over Maiden, sponsored by Spratt Endicott, and Urban Grit in the Restricted, sponsored by Savills.

He appeared to have ridden a confident race on All The Ammunition for owner-trainer David Kemp with the 1-2 favourite picking off his rivals on the final circuit before taking it up going to the last to score by two-and-a-half lengths from The Borobudur and James Jeavons.

However, Peters revealed that was far from the case. "The horse got himself a bit worked up," he said. "He was never really going and when he was coming up the hill I was not as cool as it probably looked."

All The Ammunition had been second on his three previous starts - including on this card last year - since joining Kemp's Kilverstone yard, near Thetford, from Sean Doyle's Monbeg Stables in County Wexford.

Kemp said: "I think he ran really flat because he had a bad journey here. He came on his own and he shook all the way here and sweated up badly. He didn't give Dale any sort of feel on the racecourse, but his class came through."

Peters found things more straightforward aboard Urban Grit in the Restricted over 2m 5f with Alan Hill's six-year-old taking up the running at the second-last before easing clear to beat Secret Scripture and Harry Arkwright by four lengths.

Peters said: "He is a nice little horse. He liked it where it was better ground and will like good ground. He is a fun horse."

Urban Grit, winner of a Didmarton maiden on his debut, was continuing the recent revival of Hill's Aston Rowant stables following a tough season.

The owner-trainer commented: "It was basically the most experienced jockey riding the best race. He is for sale to stay in the yard."

Jack Andrews announced he's up for the battle in the men's championship after reducing Will Biddick's lead to one with victory on Super Dawn in a match for the Jockey Club Maiden for Mares and Fillies.

The former champion tracked Gotadance on Nigel Padfield's six-year-old before breezing home by four lengths after joining Huw Edwards's mount at the second-last.

Commenting on the title race, Andrews said: "It is going to be tough. Will is very strong at this time of year. The meetings in the west country keep going while they wind down in the Midlands, so I am up against it, but I won't be backing down."

Padfield, who is based at Abridge, near Epping, was delighted to see Super Dawn make it third time lucky since acquiring the daughter of Rule of Law through David Phelan out of Sam Curling's Skehanagh Stables in County Tipperary.

"I'm very pleased," he said. "She has been a little disappointing but has done it nicely today."

With the meeting having been rearranged and many of the horses which were intended runners having ran in the interim, the seven races attracted just 23 runners.

Unfortunately, the Edgcote Gold Cup Mixed Open, sponsored by Equine Bio Genie, produced a walkover with Dundrum Wood the only declaration for the 3m 5f contest, which was in memory of John O'Neill, the chairman of the meeting's point-to-point committee, who died last August aged 75.

The nine-year-old, trained by Tom Ellis and owned by Shona Westrope, provided Jemma Justice, 19, from Everdon, near Daventry, with a first career winner.

The meeting also saw a special presentation to secretary Kate Dalton, who is retiring from the role after 34 years.

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