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.”