GRANVILLE TAYLOR GIVES HIS RACE-BY-RACE ANALYSIS
Spectators were treated to some star performances, and those lucky enough to be present saw Polly Gundry ride her 303rd and final point-to-point winner in the Ladies’ Open to complete a treble on the day. The champion lady announced her retirement from the saddle just this week.
The predicted showers turned into an early drenching which eased the going to soft at Great Trethew as the afternoon wore on. A healthy total of 73 runners lined up for the eight races.
The Cornish mare Wee Fly is still on the upgrade and gave Polly a memorable final ride. The nine-year-old mare gave an authoritative display here to beat Doof and Ha Ho MacGregor. Polly Gundry sent Wee Fly ahead of the front running Doof (Jo Buck) at the 15th fence, and eased clear of her main rival in the final half mile. “They went fast early on and I got a bit squeezed up on the top bend. She flew the smaller fences here and kept wanting to go on,” said Polly. Owner/ trainer Ross Oliver will probably take his mare to the Dartmoor at FletePark next, where she could lift her career tally into double figures.
Open Maiden four to seven-year-olds only, two miles and a half.
The eight times champion lady rider initiated her treble on the six-year-old mare Best Bette, who had shown promise on her pointing debut at Wadebridge last month. She was always in the front rank and went on up the hill on the far side. Newcomer Winds and Waves looked a threat coming down the hill, but Best Bette ran on well up the final climb to score by three lengths. “She is owned by Susie Goodall and came to us from Alan King’s yard where she only ran once and was not right like a lot of Alan’s horses last season.” explained Polly.
Division 2 (G & A Tomkies & Son, Gunnislake)
Nobody has ridden young pointers better than the champion and she came out on top again in this 13-runner Maiden with five-year-old Georgie Whale. This Milan mare was making her second racecourse appearance and just got the better of runner-up Molland Gayle in the closing stages. “She has a big engine and is amazingly green,” was the jockey’s post-race summary. The mare was bred by her owners Andrew and Gillian Snowden, and is a half sister to former Trebudannon winner Flying Whale. Westcountry regulars might recall their dam Baby Whale winning a Kilworthy Ladies’ Open some ten years ago amongst her five pointing wins. Both Georgie Whale and Best Bette are in Ed Walker’s pointing yard and each has an appointment at the sales next.
Only three of the 13 runners completed the course as the race developed into a procession over the final three fences. Hilda Wild drew clear under Suzy Berry at the top of the hill, and was followed home at a respectable distance by her stable companion Erehwon and Tara Bloom. Spaxton trainer Marie McGuinness was saddling her second winner of the season and commented,“We’ve had several placed and lots of my 15 inmates are babies”. Marie bought the winner privately from Yorkshire and she runs in the colours of the aptly named Only Fools Own Horses syndicate.
It is good to see Southwestern return to his best form this spring. His third consecutive win of the season here lifted his career tally to 19, and he looks ready for a few more yet. Yufo and Quizzling gave brave chase, but they were just playing for places from a long way out as Neil Harris had the luxury of looking round for non-existent danger in the final stages. “He is enjoying himself in point-to-points, but could go for the Horse and Hound Cup at the end of the season,” remarked the veteran jockey, who thinks that his number of wins on board Southwestern now exceeds his previous best total on Butler John a decade or so ago.
Special Account completed a double for jockey Neil Harris and trainer Camilla Scott. Lucette Annie made the running, but was quickly outpaced by the winner who sailed past the mare going down the far side. Special Account drew right away from the third last in the style of a progressive pointer to beat Lucette Annie by 12 lengths, with Mayfair Lastchance a well beaten third. The winner is owned by Jenny Perry and now seems a bargain at £5,500 at Cheltenham sales last May after winning his Maiden in Ireland.
Sarika got back to winning ways after running out at Treborough Hill last month. Starting 11-10 favourite, five-year-old Sarika ran on gamely under Lizzie Kelly to hold Lynx For Now and Lizzy’s Lass in the tightest finish of the day. I regard this form as solid. Sarika had beaten subsequent winners Colin’s Desire and Tans Hill over a shorter trip on this track in February, and had looked an unlucky loser on two previous occasions. A tall gelding, described by his owner/trainer Jane Williams as, “a bit of a thinker,” Sarika is related to jumps winners in France and no doubt his longer term future lies under rules. Teenager Lizzie Kelly is gaining confidence with every ride but she may need the benefit of outside rides to maintain her position as leading National Novice rider. The runner up Lynx For Now caught the eye. He won a good Irish Maiden at Tinahely this January and should pick up a Restricted before long, a remark which also applies to Lizzy’s Lass.
An eleven-year-old Maiden with a string of letters in his recent form (urururur ) would not normally inspire confidence, but Big Fun was laughing at his eight rivals throughout the final circuit and won by the length of the run-in. The truth is that Big Fun has been carrying his owner Marcus Chambers with around two stone overweight in his quest to complete a point-to-point course. This time Jo Buck must have seemed like a feather on his back. “He is a real family horse who was hunting all winter with the Taunton Vale,” said trainer Leslie Jefford. The owner had the misfortune to break his wrist badly whilst team chasing, but is determined to get back into action on the racecourse. Big Fun limbered up for this contest by winning a charity flat race at Kingston St Mary last month with the owner’s 14 year old son Barney in the saddle.
POLLY GUNDRY HANGS UP HER BOOTS
Eight times lady champion point-to-point jockey and reigning Devon & Cornwall title holder Polly Gundry announced her retirement from the saddle a few days after her sparkling treble at Great Trethew.
Polly rode her first winner on her fourth ride as a 16-year-old in 1992, and it was apt that she should partner her 303rd and last winner in the saddle on Wee Fly for Ross Oliver. She also rode over 50 winners under rules.Reflecting on her riding career she said, “It’s a good time to stop. I have ridden for some loyal owners and thoroughly enjoyed it.”
She achieved her 300th point-to-point winner on Wee Fly at Wadebridge last month, and had partnered over 20 winners for the Trebudannon based owner/trainer.
“I have ridden for some fabulous owners and one of my most memorable successes came when Torduff Express won the Aintree Foxhunter.” Having now obtained a jumps licence she has four horses in training under rules, and her partner Ed Walker looks after their 30 pointers at their Ottery St Mary yard.
NINE OF THE BEST
Richard Barber entered the record books by saddling nine point-to-point winners over the weekend. The Seaborough, Dorset trainer, whose CV includes Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunter winners, won with three of his five runners at Larkhill on Saturday, and followed up with a staggering six winners from eight runners at Cotley Farm on Sunday. Ryan Mahon partnered five of the nine, with Will Biddick riding a couple, and novice riders’ Harry Derham and Martin Cooney riding one apiece.
MONEY TALKS – PUNTERS 7: BOOKIES 1
Punters had the best of the exchanges on Sunday with seven winning favourites in the eight races. The only exception was Big Fun, but even this giant was backed from 8-1 into 9-2 before his easy victory.
The younger horses’ Maidens provided three well backed winners. Best Bette was cut from 11-10 against to 11-10 on in the first, and stable companion Georgie Whale hardened from 3-1 to 7-4 before her success. Mares made a clean sweep of this event when Hilda Wild landed bets from 3’s into 9-4 in the final division.
There was no respite for the layers in the Open races with Southwestern and Wee Fly justifying odds-on support.
Acting Tougher was backed from 10-1 to 13-2 to give her owner/trainer Ross Oliver a double, but the mare found this Restricted a bit too hot. A mistake on the far side did not help, but she should not be forgotten.