A HUGE turn-out of runners was the feature of the Larkhill Racing Club meeting.

The racing was of a very high standard despite the chilly conditions and this certainly kept those who had braved the elements to the end of a total of nine races.

The highlights were a scintillating return to form of Cousin Pete in the Men’s Open, a double for owner Clive Bennett and his rider Sam Jukes, a double for owner Tom Lacey and his rider Tommie O’Brien and a first riding success for Meisha Micklewright on her first ever ride.

The day began with a narrow victory for Chasforgold, owned by Bennett, trained by Emma Alvis and ridden by Jukes in the first division of the Conditions Race.

Boygojumping ridden by George Hiscock had outjumped his rival and looked the likely winner but Chasforgold does stay well and he responded to his rider’s urgings to get up on the line to win by a head.

The second division of the Conditions race was won impressively by the David Brace-owned and trained Pink Eyed Pedro, ridden by his promising grandson Connor Brace.

The Ladies’ race was a high quality event with Caid du Berlais stamping his class on the 11-strong field.

Successful at the previous meeting this was a much stronger race with several of his rivals boasting wins in hunter chases and steeplechases but the result was the same with the former Paddy Power Gold Cup winner outstaying Dabinett Moon and Dicky Bob.

The first division of the Maiden was a maximum field of 18 horses and the youngest horse in the field came out on top.

Tom Lacey often introduces a promising sort at this meeting and the vibes about Energumene proved correct with the gelding running out a two-length winner under O’Brien.

The second division was split on the day but the first part of the race was declared void for safety reasons as there was an injured horse on the bend approaching the last fence.

At the time before the race was abandoned, Arcal Fifty, ridden by Jamie Thomas and Swincombe Toby, with Lorcan Williams on board and trained by Sally Alner, were duelling for the lead and would probably have fought out the finish.

The second part of the race proved to be the second winner on the day for Lacey and his rider O’Brien with another newcomer Sebastopol.

The Men’s Open race attracted another huge field of 19 horses with numerous previous winners in the line-up.

Monsieur Gibraltar was fancied to follow up his success at the previous meeting but he could not cope with a resurgent Cousin Pete trained by Elizabeth Brown and ridden by Nick Phillips.

Unbeaten in point to points in 2016 and the winner of a hunter chase at Cheltenham in April of that year his form last season consisted on two non-completions and all was clearly not well.

After much time and investigation an allergy to straw was found to be one factor and he now lives on shavings.

Although he came back into work in August he has been living in a field up to Boxing Day to get the benefit of fresh air.

Clearly back to his best on this evidence connections are considering a tilt at the Cheltenham Foxhunters for their home bred Kayf Tara gelding.

Another maximum field of 18 took part in the Restricted race and this time the judge could not separate Irish Legionnaire and The Well Road declaring it a dead heat at the winning post.

There was a fairy-tale ending to the final race the Novice Riders’ Conditions when in a close finish between Real Milan, Tolkeins Tango and L’Eldorado the last named prevailed to give 24-year-old Micklewright a first winner on her debut ride.