ANOTHER thrilling Point-to-Point season came to a close last weekend, when the Torrington Farmers hosted their meeting at Umberleigh on Saturday.
Sizzling sunshine welcomed the large crowd, who were treated to some first class horse racing action. The drying conditions had favoured the horses who relished the faster going.
The Devonshire Motors of Barnstaple-sponsored Confined race headed up the action, with all eyes watching the two leading ladies, Bridget Andrews and Jacqueline Coward who was just one race behind in the National table. Bridget Andrews had taken up the ride on Checkerboard , from the Devon based Kayley Woollacott’s yard, and set the pace early on. Right Enough had been sent off odds-on favourite, but a mistake at the ditch under jockey Tom Chanin took them out of the race. Jacqueline Cowards mount Meilyr was unable to challenge, and a heavy fall on the final circuit, resulted in Jacqueline heading off to hospital with a suspect dislocated and fractured collar bone, and out of the title race. In the final circuit Nicto De Beauchene under Josh Guerriero, chased the leader over the second last, but Checkerboard loving the going, was pushed out to the line to win by a short head, to give jockey Bridget Andrews the National leading lady title.
Delighted Bridget Andrews quoted ” I had an easy lead, I was given a tip to be in front at bottom of hill.” Bridget only had confirmation of her ride on Checkerboard the day before, from regular yard jockey Jamie Thomas. “One day Jamie might get the favour back,” Bridget said beaming.
Checkerboards trainer Kayley Woollacott said “He is a different horse this week, he hates the rain, it is the first time this year he has had sunshine on his back and the ground he likes.” She added “He is now up for sale, an ideal novice ride, he even got me around safely early on in the season!.”
There was a delay before the Capt.Tim Forster Memorial Restricted race sponsored by Kivells, whilst awaiting a replacement ambulance to arrive, and the injured Jacqueline Coward to be ferried to hospital. It was a disappointing day for her team, having traveled three of her own horses down from Yorkshire. Once the Restricted race started the well fancied Zakopany from the Luke Price team was sent off favourite, but soon struggled. As the race unfolded, the Maria Lewis-trained Kawana Cove was making eye catching progress under Jamie Thomas, having survived a mistake at the ditch, he took up the running two out. His nearest pursuer Pasternak Jack was ridden by Heidi Lewis, who normally has the ride on her family owned horse Kawana Cove, but had stayed loyal to Pasternak Jack’s connections. A brilliant jump at the last saw Jamie Thomas take the race on Kawana Cove four lengths ahead of the Heidi Lewis-ridden Pasternak Jack.
“Heidi does all the work at home”, stated father David Lewis, “We bought him as a schoolmaster from Richard Barber, we cant believe he was 66-1 last weekend, and has won this as 2-1 second favourite”, Mum Maria had been watching up in the video tower, and was thrilled to see her horse Kawana Cove come home first, but was also willing on the second place Pasternak Jack under daughter Heidi.
Findlay’s Find justified favourtism under jockey David Mansell, in taking the Men’s Open race by ten lengths with a comfortable win, leaving Gallaflynn heading the chasing pack, taking second place under jockey Matthew Barber. Findlay’s Find owner, Paul Miles stated ” We had bought him for £450 and a pony, we turned down an offer of £50,000 when he was five after he won a three and a half miler at MerthyrTidfil, we are considering race options for the future.”
Leading area lady jockey Bryony Frost took the Ladies’ Open race, sponsored by E.J.Snell & Sons, on Templer. This race involved a pile up, seeing two of the challenging horses taken out of the race on the final circuit, by a loose horse. Bryony had ridden a patient race and had managed to avoid the crash, getting Templer, trained by mum Nikki at Buckfastleigh, home seven lengths ahead of Rock Of Fife ridden by Chloe Swaffield. Jopero under Hannah Welch and Florence Mary under Lucy Mager were the two which were hampered by the loose horse bringing them both down and out of the race.
Jockey Bryony Frost stated ” I was able to miss most of the trouble, I was pushed out into corn field, but just growled at Templer and he picked up again,” she added “I was confident coming up the hill and we were ready to challenge.” Bryony’s father Jim said “Templer won the Isle of Wight Grand National with Haddon, he had previously won eleven National Hunt races, he fell out of love with racing, and a change of yard cheered him up. He now deserves retirement, and will go team chasing for new owner Mike Smith”.
Claire Howarth of The Barum Stud-sponsored the Intermediate race. Of the four runners, Rainbow Trout under Mark Wall was sent off odds-on favourite, but was no match for Bathwick Scanno under jockey David Noonan. Seeing the Novice Men’s title within reach, Noonan kicked on up the final hill, and was eight lengths clear two out, finishing to win by 16 lengths, with Rainbow Trout in second. This put David Noonan needing a win in the Maiden race to snatch the Novice Men’s title from leader Chester Williams.
Bathwick Scanno is owned by the Rising Sun Partnership based near Taunton. Joint owner Norman Cossey stated “We bought the horse through Gerry Supple, he is a very kind horse, very small, only a pony, but loves the firmer ground, all credit to Teresa Clark our trainer.”
All was set with the final Point race of the season, The Smallridge Bro-sponsored Open Maiden race. David Noonan got the leg-up on Grey Dream, another trained by Teresa Clark, and was in with a real chance to follow-up on his second at Bratton the weekend before. All was going Noonan’s way leading the fifteen runner field on the final circuit, but then came the challenge of Redbridge Rebel under Matthew Barber, taking over at the last to win by three lengths, with the gallant Grey Dream in second, and a good run by Kilcolman Wizard under Michael Heard third.
Jockey Matthew Barber quoted ” It was a bit of a tactical race, Redbridge Rebel just took me there, I was a passenger, I thought at the last it was fly or die.”
Trainer Marc Barber said “We plan to give him a couple of weeks off and then may bring him out in July if we can find a Handicap Chase for him.”
Two pony races finished the day’s events. The 138cm went to Cornwalls young Tyler Heard on the five year old The Jobs Not Straight. The 148cm race going to sixteen year old Theo Gillard on Hawksfield Flyer, a talented young jockey who would be well worth following if progressing onto horses next season.
After the summer break, Point-to-Point action for the 2014-2015 looks to start again at the end of November, keep an eye for fixture list on www.horseraces-dc.com
Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at www.westcountryvideos.co.uk
The following professional and amatuer photographers were at the meeting: Baths photographic (Marcus Bath), Brian Armstrong, David Strange, John Beasley (Big Green Annual), Helen Stoneman, Tim Holt & Turfpix (Tracy Roberts)