Preview of South Dorset at Milborne St Andrew

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The South Dorset Hunt at Milborne St Andrew – Sunday 3 February 2013

Byerley Bear can become the first horse to win three point-to-points this season by taking the South Dorset Ladies’ Open at Milborne St Andrew on Sunday. The Nigel Edmonds-trained ex-Irish eight-year-old, who has cruised home twice at Wadebridge, faces a strong challenge from William and Angela Rucker’s Kicks For Free, the consistent Armoury House, Master Medic, who came with a storming run to win at Larkhill a month ago and Rainbow Tree, a regular winner for West Buckland trainer Alex Dunn. The ex-Willie Mullins-trained Jayo, winner of seven races in Ireland, and Restezen D’Armor, a three-time chase winner for Charlie Longsdon, are interesting, but Byerley Bear is fancied to make all the running.

Larkhill Racing Club winner Mendip Express and stable companion Mustangsallyrally are among the 23 entries for the Men’s Open, along with Crank Hill, the winner of his four completed 2012 points and just touched off in a 4m-1f Cheltenham Hunter Chase. Consistent former Coronation Gold Cup winner Coombe Hill may be better suited to testing conditions than the progressive Certain Flight and gets the vote, with Mendip Express fancied to complete the frame.

Crank Hill is an automatic selection to retain the Hunt race trophy if connections take that option. The 2010 winner Gunner Be Quick – another who would relish a test of stamina – and Hackwood Park winner Doran’s Lodge may be the strongest challengers.

A total of 138 are entered for the seven-race card, beginning with the 2m-4f Maiden at 12.00 noon. Billy Biscuit and Full Shift could represent South Midlands trainer Tom Lacey, who specialises in these events, while Polly Curling has entered the ex-Philip Hobbs-trained Piroulet. The Richard Barber-trained pair Redlynch Rock and Scotch Dry And Ice may give the Lacey runner most to do.

Billy Biscuit, Full Shift, Piroulet and Redlynch Rock are among the 32 entries for the 3-mile Maiden, but Bold Commander and Robin Will are the two suggestions.

Former top class chaser Gone To Lunch may make a comeback in the Novice Riders’ race, which has attracted 23 entries. Battle Bridge, who was not disgraced behind Master Medic at Larkhill, Busy Isit who returns to the pointing field after a seven-year absence and six wins under Rules, Clew Bay Cove and Dashing John also catch the eye. Last year’s winner Barneys Mate is a standing dish in these contests but may find Gone To Lunch just too good here.

Little Cornham gave Mendip Express plenty to think about at Larkhill and can gain compensation in the Restricted. Champagne Rosie won well at the same meeting and looks the danger.

The course at Milborne St Andrew is just off the A354 midway between Blandford and Dorchester. First race: 12.00 noon. Admission is to either of two car parks at £15 or £25 per car (£10 or £20 for single occupants) and £5 pedestrians.

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