The Royal Cornwall Showground hosted some excellent point-to-point racing last Sunday but the weather was a bit unkind. The massive barn proved the best refuge between races. Not many courses can house the bookmakers, trade stands, refreshments area, and jockeys accommodation under cover. Lashing rain was of the horizontal kind when facing the elements, driven by a gusty wind. It was enough to test even the most ardent enthusiast, and the Wadebridge going became softer as the afternoon wore on.

Men’s Open (Sponsor Moores St Wenn Ltd)

A good quality field of eight lined up with the prolific Southwestern odds on to make a winning start to the season. Fitness had to be judged quickly in the preliminaries as the rugs came off, but most of the runners looked forward enough at this stage of the season. Welsh challenger Ask The Thatcher (Evan David) disputed the lead with Ballydub (Josh Newman) for the first circuit, with Ellies Horse and Mioche D’Estruval close up. Southwestern and Roll On Rose were content to stalk the pack, but coming off the top bend the favourite made his move and was soon at the head of affairs. It was a two horse contest from the third last and it was heartening to see 12-year-old Southwestern battle up the hill in the gamest fashion to hold off the sustained challenge of his younger rival. Ballydub ran on strongly to finish a creditable third, ahead of Roll On Rose and Ellies Horse. The winner has given his group of owners called the Exmoor Partners so much pleasure over the years and this was his 22nd success. “That was amazing, I thought he was three weeks off full fitness,” said trainer Camilla Scott. “The plan is to follow a similar programme to last year”. If that comes to fruition he could be bidding for a fourth big Stratford prize to add to two Horse and Hound cups plus a John Corbet Cup. Regular jockey Neil Harris was obviously impressed. “I tried to settle him at the back but he was too keen really and a bit closer up than normal. I did not want to be there until the last.” Whatever the tactics the gelding has already proved himself to be a Westcountry legend.

Club Novice Riders’ (Home Furnishings (Wadebridge) Ltd

Monkerty Tunkerty was a convincing winner, coming home 15 lengths ahead of Perouse and Light Touch to repeat last years win in this race. The eight-year-old was always up with the pace and strolled clear down the hill for the final time. He is trained at Exford by 20-year-old Jess Westwood, and jointly owned by Jess and her parents Andrew and Sharon. “Jess had done a lot of work on him but we were not quite sure how fit he was,” said Andrew Westwood. The young jockey, who was riding the third winner of her career and retains her novice status this season said: “We may go hunter chasing later on and it would be nice to get to Stratford but that is a long way off”

Ladies’ Open (Peninsula Renewable Energy)

Sericina was long odds-on to record her fourth course victory and did so without much fuss at the expense of Wee Fly and Bucket Awl. Chloe Roddick was content to track Jasmine Hosgood on Bucket Awl until after half way, but soon had the race in safe keeping, drawing away from her rivals down the hill to score by an easy seven lengths. “I was very happy with that, she was fit enough,” said the rider who also trains the mare. “We will probably give the (Cheltenham) Foxhunter a miss unless it comes up soft. I am thinking of a couple of hunter chases and then the Punchestown festival in the spring,” she added.

Intermediate (The Point-to-Point Authority)

28-year-old Chloe Roddick completed her first riding double on a gelding with the dubious name of The Slug, who is also stabled with her at Wellow in the Mendips. The Slug is no slouch but would have had more to do if Gypsy Jack (Will Biddick) had not slipped badly and lost his momentum on the bottom bend. “The Slug is very speedy and would make a super Ladies’ horse,” she said, adding with a grin, “he works all over Sericina at home”.

Restricted (The Nare Hotel)

The Neil Harris ridden Lynx For Now was a well backed favourite but dropped out of contention after the final ditch. Total Containment took up the running at that stage but down the hill on the far side the race became a duel between Hilda Wild and Tamatown. This pair battled stride for stride from the last fence with Jo Buck’s mount Tamatown momentarily edging ahead, but Hilda Wild stuck her head in front where it mattered to gain a short head verdict. Her mud splattered jockey Suzy Berry remarked: “She is a real game mare and was a bit green, especially jumping the third last.” Five-year-old Hilda Wild won her Maiden for a syndicate from the yard of Marie McGuinness last season, but changed hands at Doncaster sales in May and now runs in the colours of Sara Biggins from Marie’s yard.

Open Maiden (South West Loos)

Division 1

A good performance from Brackenwood who made all the running under Jamie Thomas in a 13-runner field. Welsh challenger Knight Blaze looked a big danger at the second last, but 10-1 chance Brackenwood kept on dourly up the hill to score by three lengths with the remainder well beaten off. The winner is owned by Jimmy Frost and trained by his wife Nikki who also handles third placed Sweet Willow. “He is home bred by our stallion Morpeth and his dam won four times,” said Jimmy.

Division 2

The Spaxton yard of Marie McGuinness struck again when Not Many Know That came home 12 lengths ahead of Festive Present. Last years National champion novice rider Micheal Nolan was getting off the mark for the new season on board the fiveyear-old Winged Love gelding. Nolan said: “This horse is very immature and we ride him round the car park before racing. He is a bit above average though.”



A crystal clear blue sky, temperatures into double figures, and the return of pointto-point racing after the summer break all added to the air of expectation as the new British point-to-point season swung into action at Black Forest Lodge.

A total of 82 runners in seven races including several long distance travellers meant competitive racing to get the Devon & Cornwall season under way.

Open Maiden 4 and 5-year-olds only 2m 4f

Division 1 (Brightwells)

Plenty of drama to start the new season with the low morning sun causing the omission of two jumps on each circuit, and a pile up at the first ditch which put three of the 14 runners out of the race. Bach on Tow and Lucy Gardner made a bold bid to make all, but the eventual winner Shrewd Investment took command at the top of the hill and soon drew clear. The winner had shown a fair level of form under rules for Alan King and is now one of ten pointers trained by Laura Thomas who is based only one mile from King’s Barbury Castle yard. The five-year-old, “jumped fantastic and travelled well”, according to his young jockey Nico de Boinville, who works for Nicky Henderson. “I have ridden a couple of flat winners including one in Norway,” said the jockey afterwards, adding that he also rides out Gold Cup winner Long Run for his boss. Unfortunately the perpetual Devon & Cornwall Area leading rider Richard Woollacott sustained chest and shoulder injuries when My Runaway fell at the first ditch, forcing him to give up his remaining five rides on the day. A subsequent visit to hospital in Exeter revealed a punctured lung as one of his injuries and a day or two in intensive care. “I am waiting for x-rays to my shoulder but I am out of intensive care,” Richard told me on Wednesday this week (30 November). He is unlikely to be back race riding until the New Year.

Division 2 (Wilkinson Grant)

Will Biddick was quickly summoned as a replacement for the injured Woollacott on Sunset City and seized his opportunity by getting the five-year-old home in a tight finish. A walking wounded Woollacott at least trained the winner and said, “We got him out of a field in Ireland. I tried to sell him at my open day and he is now owned by Dick Westacott, who is one of my longest standing owners.” Sunset City was returned at 10-1 as punters went in big time for the John Heard trained Googoobarabajagal (is this a foreign language or just baby talk?) but Michael Heard’s first mount of the season ran disappointingly.

Club Novice Riders’ (Heltor)

I predict that a lot more will be heard about winning jockey Joe Hill who won this contest on his first ride in a point-to-point. Those of us of a certain age will recall his very tall father Alan winning the Cheltenham Foxhunter on Elmboy – and his mother Lawney partnering countless winners between the flags. Admittedly the sturdy seven-year-old Ravethebrave was probably a class above his seven opponents, and 16-year-old Joe Hill was able to coast home . “I probably paid too much for the horse at Doncaster in May,” quipped proud father Alan who bought Ravethebrave on the recommendation of his previous trainer Alan King for £23,000. All credit to connections who turned the gelding out as fit as a flea after a 6.45am start from their yard near Kingston Blount, Oxfordshire . “Back at my desk at school tomorrow,” sighed Hill the younger who is preparing for a different course – GCSEs at Cokethorpe School near Witney in Oxfordshire.

Restricted (Dyson, Quaintance and Strange Financial Management)

This looked a wide open 14-runner race with bookmakers going 7-2 the field. One of the joint favourites On My Living Life set a brisk pace alongside Hard To Tell as this pair raced clear on the first circuit. In the end On My Living Life gamely shook off all comers and eventually came home seven lengths to the good of Mister Trigger. The winner was found in Ireland by agent Aidan Murphy on behalf of owner James Drummond and is trained by Patrick Bryant at Motcombe near Shaftesbury. His 22-year-old jockey Dan Collins works for Paul Nicholls and was riding the 11th winner of his career. “This horse was very fit and he stretched away when I asked him. I ride out for Patrick Bryant and Caroline Keevil three days a week,” said Dan.

Mixed Open (Strutt & Parker)

Divine Intavention was clearly the form horse of the race and hardened into 6-4 on after a little 4-5. This tall gelding looked the part in the preliminaries and duly obliged after a spirited battle with runner up Khacaturian, who looks a winner in waiting. Awesome George was booked for a place until departing at the second last, and is also worth bearing in mind for the future. Divine Intavention, who won a hunter chase at Market Rasen in May, is owned and trained by Hugh Wilson at Banbury. “He shows nothing at home but saves it for the racecourse”, confided his popular jockey Mark Wall

Open Maiden 4-year olds and upwards; 3 miles

Division 1 (E Courtney & Sons, St Thomas, Exeter)

Black Forest rarely passes by without a Welsh trained winner, and this came on Sunday in the shape of the well made six-year-old Direct Line from the yard of David Brace. This shrewd Porthcawl based owner/trainer has made a habit of raiding Black Forest successfully over the years, and his Moscow Society gelding galloped on relentlessly after taking up the running with a circuit to go. Although no match for the winner, Bradley Brook ran on well and should win a maiden without too much trouble. Allerford Jack looked fit and started favourite but finished a well beaten third. “I bought Direct Line privately in Ireland and he has needed time to mature mentally,” said the winning trainer. His 19-year-old jockey Evan David works full time in the yard and was riding his eighth point-to-point winner.

Division 2 (The Farriers)

Money Tree proved to be another well backed favourite and landed a double for Alan Hill’s Oxfordshire yard. This five-year-old chestnut soon had his flashy white face to the fore and measured his jumps well. Jockey James Tudor had his mount glued to the rails throughout before easing clear to score comfortably. Formerly placed over hurdles and looking awkward on occasions for Donald McCain, Money Tree was acquired for £6,200 at Brightwells Ascot sales in July. “He was as fit as anything and that was James at his best,” enthused owner/trainer Hill who will soon seek a Restricted for his five-year-old.