Written by: Donna Harris
The weather forecast was true to form at Sunday’s Axe Vale Point-to-Point meeting, when rain started to fall heavily on the course before the first race. With the stall holder Farmers Friend having an early rush on with people buying up his stock of waterproof clothing of which they reported to have sold 30 pairs on the day. The crowd may have been limited to less than normal capacity with many picnic fans choosing to stay at home, however those race followers who did turn up were treated to some thrilling action.
Leading national trainer Jack Barber scored a treble on the day, the first coming in the way of Athreeothree in the J & F.J. Baker-sponsored Confined race. Having been sent off 6/4 favorite under jockey Will Biddick , who rode a patient race producing Athreeothree over the last to take the lead from Creative Inerta and go on to win by half a length. “It was a perfect ride from Will who did exactly what he was instructed,” commented the trainer. Athreeothree had been an unlucky faller at Larkhill in January, having previous season wins at Charlton Horethorne and Lower Machen.
The second part of team Barber’s treble came in the Hammett Associates-sponsored Restricted race, when odds on favourite Cereal Killer led for most of the race and produced an exciting turn of foot under jockey Will Biddick when challenged before the last by Lizard King, with Cereal Killer going on to steal the race by 15 lengths. This five-year old Buck’s Boum-sired gelding had previously won his maiden at Cotley with a 25 length win and looks one for the future. “He is a lovely young horse, we may turn him away for now but I will have a chat to the owner Colm Donlon,” stated Jack. Jockey Will Biddick, who is now on winner 32 for the season added “He is a genuine young horse, he just needs time, and he gallops and jumps.” Will has set up his own small yard at Alhampton, where he takes a few breakers and pre-trainers for his winter project. He is close enough to use the gallops at Ditcheat, where he also rides out.
Martin McIntyre got the leg-up on the Barber team’s third winner of the day, when the four-year old Robin Waters, also owned by Colm Donlon, took the Open Maiden race in equally stylish fashion. Seven horses contested the race, with McIntyre riding a patient race and gradually picked off the leaders If It Be Your Will and Pistol Shoot, kicking on the odds on favourite Robin Waters over the second last and going on to win the race by 20 lengths. Jack Barber had a couple of horses on the lorry to contest this race and was delighted he chose this youngster “He came out of Dan Skelton’s yard to go pointing for a season and to give him time to mature.”
Another favourite to rock the bookies was the odds on winner of the first race of the day Master Baker under jockey Jo Buck, in the Beviss & Beckingsale-sponsored Member’s race. With only three entered, Jo Buck set off with a bold catch me if you can tactic setting the pace. With only a brief challenge from Over Africa on the final circuit, Master Baker won the race by three lengths. Trainer Lisa Jefford explained “I was hoping to run him before today but it didn’t work out. We had to get the physio Piers Wilmot in to sort out a hamstring problem he had. I hope we can find a Hunter Chase for him or maybe go to Trebudannon.” Jockey Jo Buck added “It was a bit of a lonely race, he was looking around for company. He is a super horse to sit on.”
The bookies got their own back when Third Chance under jockey Katy Lyons overturned the favourite Tom Barton in the Lee Clifford-sponsored Mixed Open race. There were three in contention over the last with Doyen Dynamo joining in the party with Third Chance and Tom Barton, but it was Third Chance who responded to his jockey’s riding and went on to win by five lengths. “We almost got taken out by a loose horse, but I was able to give him a breather by tracking the others and he winged the last,” explained the 27 year-old jockey, who runs a breaking yard at Lockinge with her partner.
The Martin Diplock-sponsored Intermediate race had favourites Inch Rock and Apple’s Queen dominating the race. Apple’s Queen is lying second in the Subaru Restricted points table, and with top novice jockey Lorcan Williams on board it was inevitable they would put on a bold show. Inch Rock under Will Biddick challenged up the final straight but it was a race for the Sally Alner-trained Apple’s Queen to take the by six lengths. “I’m delighted, we will now hopefully find a Novice Hunter Chase for him at Fontwell and Lorcan will retain the ride,” quoted Sally
In the Lentells Novice riders race it was Posh Totty under young jockey Christopher Barber who was sent off favourite, but never seemed happy with the rain soften going. Rex Dingle aboard Top Chief rode a cunning race, being well placed in mid division of the seven runners, stalking the leaders. Posh Totty rallied and tried to make an impression up the home straight, but had to settle two lengths second behind eventual winner Top Chief. Trainer Stuart Sampson stated “I bought the horse for joint owners, Terry Hamlin and John Gardener out of Gordon Elliot’s yard.”