Star of the show at Sunday’s Grafton Hunt point-to-point meeting was Dabinett Moon.
Fran and Christoper Marriott’s ten-year-old took the feature race at Edgcote, the John White Funeral Directors Mixed Open, as a long odds-on favourite should.
Three runners resulted in a slow early pace, but she asserted her authority after the first circuit and was never headed thereafter. Second favourite Toby Lerone was close enough for most of the race but mistakes six out and four out put paid to his chances and the clean-jumping Dabinett Moon won hard-held, coming home 25 lengths clear with We Never Give Up completing for third, 30 lengths away.
The wonderful mare, ridden as she almost always is by Claire Hardwick, was winning for the 16th time in 31 starts.
The Chipping Norton handler said: Didn’t she do well under that weight? It was a five star performance, Toby Lerone’s not a bad horse.”
As far as future plans are concerned, the Marriotts are keen on a repeat visit to Stratford for the Skinners Ladies Open Final, which she won last year. Dabinett Moon is the only inmate of their Chipping Norton yard and Fran explained the secret of their success.
She added: “We let her do what she wants to. She goes out in the field and Christopher rides her every day. He’s a help, not a hindrance as long as he does what the trainer says!”
Hardwick, looking to finish second in the lady jockeys title race, added: “She’s so lovely. It was tricky with just three runners, we never make the running but I had to do something. I hope she’ll stay in training next season.”
Benefit Of Luck was an impressive winner of the seven-runner Savills Intermediate over the shorter distance of two miles five furlongs.
Winning his third start on the bounce for trainer-rider Dale Peters, who always had the improving six-year-old handy. Although Dave Mansell on Joey Kangaroo took the fight to the odds-on favourite, the result was in no doubt when Benefit of Luck got his head back in front jumping two out.
He went on to score by a comfortable eight lengths.
Tim Underwood completed a double with two of his four runners.
The owner-trainer opened his account in the Beachborough School Novice Riders race with Tempelpirate, scoring for the 21st time in his 35 starts.
The Underwood double was completed in the concluding Framptons Planning Conditions race for ten-year-olds and over, which Phil York won on Presenting Beara.