After Sunday I know why they don’t have horse racing at the North Pole. Yes, they have sent us their arctic weather with snow and temperatures of minus this and minus that. Thank goodness the organisers of the first British point-to-point of the new season were prepared. It isn’t easy for racing to defeat sub-zero temperatures, but the organisers of the Black Forest Club meeting are a determined lot and somehow the show went on despite the icy blast.

Whoever thought of the innovation of utilising thick duvets around the jumps to afford frost protection should think of applying for a place on Dragons Den. Senior jockeys told me that on the racing line the ground was riding on the fast side of good.

A well muffled, reasonable sized crowd for a November point-to-point saw 80 horses from far and wide contest the nine races with some stirring finishes.

Black Forest Club Members’Novice Riders’ (Sponsor: Heltor Ltd)

Fully Loaded gained the first of his nine wins last season in this race ridden by Emma Pugsley. Andrew and Linda Pugsley’s ten-year-old gelding went on to take the National Leading Horse award with Emma and her sister Lucy taking the rides. Emma, now in her second year at Plymouth University, is still qualified as a novice rider and rode a confident race here to see off the late challenge of Paddy the Piper.

Emma’s grandfather Gerald Greenway had Fully Loaded looking fit and well for his seasonal debut and looks to be plotting a similar route to last season. “He will not be going hunter chasing and may run at Wadebridge next month”, said the trainer.Paddy the Piper ran his usual solid race under young Michael Heard and this combination look sure to gain consolation before long.

Mixed Open (Wilkinson Grant, Exeter)

Le Duc started a shade of odds-on, with former useful rules performer Simon and Huntingdon hunter chase winner Blaze Ahead the next market choices. Blaze Ahead and Cinaman set off in front, but outsider Surenaga took the race by the scruff of the neck coming off the top bend. The 12-1 chance strode clear at the third last, with Le Duc coming from well off the pace to finish runner up. The winner was astutely ridden by his trainer Sally Randell who is based near Bridgend. This good topped gelding, twice successful on good to firm ground when trained in Ireland was acquired recently. “He had got a bit stale in his previous yard. I wasn’t sure that he was ready but he started to freshen up this week” explained connections.

Open Maiden 4 & 5 -year-olds only. Two and a half miles

( Division 1 The Point-to-Point Authority and Brightwells Ltd)

The honour of winning the first race of the new season went to five-year-old Snope. Owned and trained at Chepstow by Michelle Harris, this small gelding was ridden by the owner’s 22-year-old son Josh Harris, who started his career with Richard Barber and now works in the Evan Williams yard. Snope took the lead from flag fall and despite jumping continually to the left kept in front until headed by Satisfied round the last bend. A great leap by Snope at the last fence saw him regain the lead, and he ran on gamely to hold off the late challenge of Hard to Tell. Snope has had a job to find a permanent home until now. He joined Nicky Henderson’s yard for £18,000 as a three-year-old and has since resided with Jamie Snowden and Polly Gundry. Current connections got him for £3,200 at Doncaster in August.

(Division 2 – Philip Saunders Building Contractors Ltd)

Son of Flame seemed to lack stamina in his races last season, but turned in an authoritative display here over this shorter distance. Richard Hawkins sent the five-yearold clear off the top of the hill to score comfortably despite fluffing the last. “He is a nice horse but pulled hard and would be better left-handed”, reported the 21-year-old jockey who partnered nine pointing winners last season. Trainer Keith Cumings has fond memories of the winners dam, Flame O’Frensi who won 24 times for the yard Son of Flame was the jockey’s first ride since a crashing fall at Cheltenham last month put him out of action. “I actually fractured two small bones in my neck when Cornish Sett fell, but rode out again this Thursday and passed the doctor two days ago”. These boys are tough.


(Division 1 – Dyson Quaintance & Strange Financial Management, Newton Abbot)

The winner Timeshift looks to be a bright prospect. Looking very fit in the preliminaries, he was always travelling easily under David Mansell and won as he liked in the fastest time of the day. A sturdy six-year-old trained by Zoe Hammond in Worcestershire, he had won his Maiden by 20 lengths two seasons ago and has been runner up in two bumpers. “We got him originally from Roger McGrath in Cork”, said owner Don Constable who outlined a plan to go for the Red Mills Intermediate Final at Cheltenham.

(Division 2 – Gingerland Livery)

Jimmy Cole’s forcing tactics on his six-year-old Furmagiatt nearly paid off, but in the end he had to give best to 4-1 chance Busy Times. Winner of an Irish Maiden last year, Busy Times is trained at Ross on Wye by Glyn Watkins and was giving a first success to his owner Lorna Vaughan. Busy Times was ridden by 28-year-old Kevin O’Keefe who rode the first of his three pointing winners last year and rides out for Venetia Williams.

Open Maiden Three miles

(Division 1 – Bonhay & Eagle Propert Company Ltd)

I cannot imagine a worse name for a racehorse than The Slug. Anyway this six-year-old was anything but sluggish in the hands of his trainer Chloe Roddick and turned in the faster time of the three divisions. Tough Cookie made most of the running, but The Slug took over at the second last and went on to score readily. Ther winner’s form in Ireland was distinctly moderate, but at least current connections spotted his potential at Ascot sales in June where he was acquired for £2,300

(Division 2 – Hi-Line Contractors SW Ltd, Exeter)

The third Welsh trained winner of the afternoon came in the shape of Washed Out (a marginally better name than The Slug?). Patiently ridden by Isabel Tompsett in the early stages, Washed Out crept into contention half a mile out and took command at the penultimate fence to score comfortably from the favourite Ace High Blue. A stoutly bred gelding who once changed hands for 20,000 euros, the winner showed a glimmer of ability for Paul Nolan in Ireland before being bought by owner/trainer Kim Thomas who is based in the Rhondda Valley.

(Division 3 – The Farriers)

Lucy Gardner has not enjoyed the best of luck having suffered injuries which have curtailed her last two seasons. It was good to see her back on song here with a smooth success on Craig Brian’s Diamond Supreme. King Dick looked a big danger rounding the final bend, but Lucy got a good run out of her mount to win going away. The winner failed to sparkle for former trainer Henrietta Knight and was picked up for £3,000 at Brightwells sales in April.