AT last a lovely warm, sunny day which saw a massive crowd enjoying the best that point-to-pointing can offer in the picturesque setting of Flete Park.
The featured Lord Mildmay of Flete four miles Mixed Open attracted a quality field of eight stayers, with last year’s winner Wee Fly and Gershwinner sent of 3-1 joint favourites. 7-2 chance Faasel soon had his head in front though, stalked by Gershwinner for the first three miles. Wee Fly jumped into second place at the top of the hill, but despite the best efforts of Bryony Frost, the prolific mare could not get past the game Faasel.
Michael Heard was partnering his eighth point-to-point winner of the season in a year which has also seen his career under rules taking shape. Now 12-years-old, Faasel is a grand Heard family-owned veteran who has grade 1 winning form to his credit in his younger days. “He is quite a lazy horse at home. Hopefully we can go for the Eggesford four-miler on our own track (Upcott Cross) on May 6,” said John Heard.
Bryony Frost had earlier won the Hunt race on Susan Roe’s promising six-year-old Railway Vic. “He is quite clever and just does enough, I knew he would have the speed when he was challenged,” reported Bryony, who celebrated her 18th birthday a week ago and is still in the lead for the National novice riders’ title.
Josh Guerriero has a great chance of landing the Devon & Cornwall jockeys’ championship and partnered his 15th winner of the season when Ann’s Lottery just pipped Gontdevon in the 14-strong Restricted. A lonely looking Tim Dennis had saddled this winner on behalf of his mother Jill and explained, “My sister Lucy had a baby girl last Tuesday and mother is away with her. The owner is on holiday in the West Indies.” Seven-year-old Ann’s Lottery was scoring for the second time in the colours of lottery winner Ann Young and could be seen under rules in the summer.
Print The Money and Josh Guerriero just failed to follow up for the Dennis yard in the Confined, just succumbing to Michael Legg’s mount Swansbrook, with Pauillac and Tamatown hot on their heels. This was quite a controversial race which kept the stewards busy and the outcome in abeyance for 20 minutes. The Sue Popham trained Swansbrook, a model of consistency this year, had just drifted across Print The Money on the run-in. The stewards considered any interference to be accidental however and the result was certainly not affected. At the same time however a void race looked a possibility. Most eyes will have seen the whole nine-strong field waved to the right around the ninth fence to avoid an ambulance picking up a fallen rider, and waved to the left at that obstacle on the final circuit. It was eventually decided that as the whole field had been diverted on safety grounds there is a rule to permit by-passing both sides of a jump and the result stood. Phew!
The two Maiden races were each divided on the day. The two and a half miles version for younger horses saw close finishes to each section. Jennys Layla gave Leanda Tickle her third winner of the season when just holding Raffa, who had looked dangerous when pecking at the last. “I bought her for £750 at Ascot sales and there are eight or nine in the owning syndicate. She wants give in the ground,” remarked Lydford trainer Pauline Geering.
The other division proved memorable for jockey Jake Bament who partnered his first winner on his third ride in a blanket finish of heads and necks. The young rider refused to be flustered as his mount Pasternak Jack was challenged by the fast finishing Gingers Reflection and Flood Tide inside the final 100 yards. “I just can’t believe it,” was the first reaction of yet another successful pony racing recruit, who had his 17th birthday two days previously. “He came to us last year and did well at the racing school at Newmarket, he looks a natural”, commented the winners trainer Kayley Jones.
Five-year-old Punter Friendly, a Doncaster sales purchase last August, lived up to his name in the first three miles Open Maiden. Owned by Richard and Sylvia Francome, this well backed 6-4 favourite had a sound recent form line on his CV and was always travelling well in the hands of Ed Barrett.
The new Flete Park clerk of the course Sam Holdsworth can be proud of the fact that a total of 75 runners turned out for the eight races on near perfect going. Sam was not going to be left out of the action on the track, and saddled his family owned and bred Music of Time to a very easy victory in the final Maiden in the hands of Tom Chanin.