TARA Clegg ended her four-year wait for a first winner with victory aboard Zakeeta as the curtain came down on the South Midlands Area season at Kingston Blount, near Chinnor.

Clegg, 25, who hails from East Hendred, brought the five-year-old mare home eight lengths clear of odds-on favourite Caught In Time in a match for the members’ race.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I never thought it would happen. “It means the world, and she is going to be retired (to stud) now because she is an absolute nightmare to train.”

Clegg lives in Lambourn now where she trains Zakeeta and works at Jamie Osborne’s stables, having spent three seasons with West Lockinge handler Henrietta Knight after leaving Our Lady’s Convent School, Abingdon.

Aston Rowant handler Alan Hill retained his South Midlands trainers’ title and was also crowned the area’s leading owner thanks to the exploits of Fly Direct.

However, he experienced a frustrating day with three seconds and a third.

Viel Gluck, ridden by his son, Joe, who added the area novice rider’s title to his national success in the Wilkinson Sword competition for riders aged under 21 without a winner at the start of the season, found Medic a length too good in the intermediate.

The 11-year-old was ridden by Tom Ellis, who sealed the area men’s riders’ title.

More Trouble, from Hill’s yard, finished second to Ned The Post in the men’s open for the second successive year with a head separating them at the post.

The pair were left to fight out the finish after She Is A Cracker slipped up on the bend approaching the second-lastwhen looking to be going best.

Hill’s hat-trick of runner-ups was completed by Kayandson, who was unable to peg back Dancing Jack in the restricted, with the winner making all the running under his trainer-rider Philip York.

Balladeer was sent off the 4-5 favourite to repeat last year’s win for Hill and Emily Harbour in the ladies’ open.

But the 14-year-old could only stay on to be third as Cutlass Silver, from Chris Loggin’s Hinton-in-the-Hedges yard, near Brackley, reversed placings from the last King-ston Blount meeting, with Network Oscar splitting the pair.

Rider Claire Wills was making a winning comeback after three months on the sidelines with a broken wrist and ankle following a schooling fall.

Oliver Garner ended his days as an amateur before becoming a conditional rider with victory aboard the giant Bloodyburn Bay in the open maiden.


Members: 1 ZAKEETA (T Clegg) 7-4, 2 Caught In Time 2-5 fav. Trainer: T Clegg. Dist: 8l. 2 ran.

Intermediate: 1 MEDIC (T Ellis) 5-2, 2 Viel Gluck 13-8 fav, 3 Cavite Zeta 25-1. Trainer: F Hutsby. Dist: 1l, 2l. 8 ran.

Men’s open: 1 NED THE POST (E Barrett) 7-2, 2 More Trouble 11-10 fav. Only two finished. Trainer: E Walker. Dist: hd. 3 ran.

Ladies’ open: 1 CUTLASS SILVER (C Wills) 10-1, 2 Network Oscar 100-30, 3 Balladeer 4-5 fav. Trainer: C Loggin. Dist: 3l, 1½l. 11 ran.

Restricted: 1 DANCING JACK (P York) 5-1, 2 Kayandson 5-4 fav, 3 San Siro 6-1. Trainer: P York. Dist: 6l, 2l. 6 ran.

Open maiden: 1 BLOODYBURN BAY (O Garner) 4-1 jt fav, 2 Pathlow 7-1, 3 Coka 5-1. Trainer: S McPherson. Dist: ¾l, 10l. 11 ran.

SOUTH MIDLANDS AREA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Final standings) Owners: 1 A Hill (Fly Direct) 40pts, 2 D & P Harkin (Doctor Kingsley) 30, 3 T & H Kemp (Or Bleu) 25.

Trainers: 1 A Hill 118pts, 2 F Hutsby 78, 3 H Kemp 59.

Men riders: 1 T Ellis 40, 2 J Hill 24, 3 P Mann 19.

Lady riders: 1 H Kemp 22, 2 C Hart 16, 3 R King 11.

Novice rider: 1 J Hill 4 wins, 2 J Martin 2.

Mares: 1= Trifollet, Kahlua Cove, Briery Star 13pts.