BARBURY Racecourse held the first of four point-to-point meetings this season as the Point-to-Point Owners & Riders Club meeting took place on Sunday.

The highlight of the card was the Mixed Open – sponsored for the first time by Equine Health Centre Ltd.

Top racing trainer Nicky Henderson was present to see daughter Camilla ride Ericht but the spoils went to Iberico, following up last year’s success in the same race and initiating a double for rider Sam Jukes and owners Clive and Eileen Bennett.

The 11-year-old scored comfortably by five lengths from Lilbitluso, with Big Casino eight lengths back in third on his debut between the flags.

“It was worth cleaning the cup after all,” said Clive Bennett.

“When we saw the entries, we thought we had no chance this year, but that was extraordinary. He’s 11 going on 12, but he’s still improving.”

Emma Alvis, owner-trainer of Big Casino, was responsible for the Bennetts’ and Sam’s second scorer – Chasforgold in the Tony Kemp Memorial Intermediate, a competitive 10-runner contest.

Despite a bad mistake at the fifth, he stayed in touch with the leaders before jumping to the front five out and repelling the persistent challenges of firstly Robin Des Bois and then the patiently-ridden Palmaria, holding the latter at bay by a length, with Robin Des Bois a neck back in third.

“I thought he’d run well,” said Alvis. “He was second in this race last year, even though he was still a maiden, and is stronger this year.''

It was also a second career double for rider Jukes.

Another hero of the day was 16-year-old Connor Brace, who rode his first winner over fences just seven days after having his first rides in points.

He was successful on William Money – on whom he was second last week – for his grandfather, long-time pointing supporter David Brace, in the 12-runner Dodson & Horrell Novice Riders race.

“That was fantastic – the most pleasure I’ve ever had from a race,” said David Brace.

“Connor rode a lovely race. He knows about pace from his pony racing, the horse stays forever and he always had the leader in his sights.”

“The plan was to jump off handy and blitz the others but I just sat quietly as I knew he’d keep galloping,” said Connor,who has ridden 45 winners in pony racing since the age of nine.

All six entries faced the starter in the Surrey Cook Conditions race, for eight-year-olds and over who hadn’t won for two years, and there was a red-hot favourite in the shape of Fran Nimmo’s Rendezvous Peak, with multiple champion Will Biddick in the saddle.

He hit the front at the eighth and quickened clear, however Solly Wood on Sentimentaljourney tracked the leader throughout, heading him two out and going on to score by 12 lengths, with Shangani eight lengths further back.

“It’s the first runner in my name, and our first winner,” confirmed owner-trainer Robert Varnham.

The first of the two Maidens on the card, for Mares and Fillies sponsored by the Jockey Club and NAF, had just seven declarations but plenty of early incident.

River Dun unshipped Darren Edwards going down to the start and was withdrawn, then Elska jumped into odds-on favourite One Big Love at the first – causing her to unseat – before refusing herself at the second.

This left just four to race two circuits and Pique Rock took full advantage of the jolly’s early departure, tracking pacesetter Act Like You Know before jumping to the head of affairs at the final cross fence. After that, the Juliet Minton-owned five-year-old was always in command and went on to win by an easy eight lengths, with Sackable Offence third, ten lengths behind her stablemate.

The final contest, the Valley Equine Hospital Maiden over two-and-a-half miles, saw 12 go to post and was won comfortably by 33-1 outsider Lily’s Got Wings, who was confidently ridden by Jack Andrews for Leamington Hastings handler Julie Wadland.

The next meeting at the track, the Barbury International point-to-point, is on Saturday, January 20, and advance tickets can be bought online at