GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – AXE VALE HARRIERS

“The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.”

The Two Gentlemen of Verona – William Shakespeare

There is something special about the Axe Vale Harriers point-to-point at Stafford Cross. This pleasant compact course has a garden party atmosphere, and often attracts good class horses.

The first ever fixture organised by the Axe Vale Harriers was held on
Thursday 24th April 1947 on a course across the main road (A3052) from today’s venue. From 1950 until 1993 the fixture was held on Wednesday’s. The switch to the current Stafford Cross course, much flatter and sharper than its predecessor, took place in 1966.

I must admit that I preferred the Wednesday meetings which always seemed to attract big crowds and runners from outside the area. East Anglian raiders David and Josephine Turner were regular visitors as they gathered winners towards their numerous National riders’ titles in the 1970’s on pointers trained by their father Joe Turner.

Another long distance traveller was Graham Pidgeon who sent horses from his Northamptonshire yard and would back them fearlessly. His daughter Jenny collected four national lady jockeys’ titles in the 1980’s.

I remember Robert Alner riding three winners at the final mid week meeting. Also, leading trainer Richard Barber, who regularly saddled a clutch of winners at the Axe Vale over the years, including five in 1995 which were all ridden by Polly Curling. Sadly both Robert and Richard have passed away in the last few months.

There are too many horses to mention, but a regular was locally trained Culmleigh Padre who seemed to run every year and won the Members’ as a 17-year-old, ridden by Martin Sweetland, about the same age as his mount

My short trip to Stafford Cross each year always brings a few things to mind if you will forgive a few personal anecdotes. My memory insists that racing invariably took place on sunny and warm April afternoons. In practice it was not always so. I cannot recall the exact year, but it poured with rain and deep pools of water gathered outside the paddock. In those days I used a mini tape recorder for my race reading job. When I got home and tried to replay the tape it was so soggy it wouldn’t work. For me one of the worst things that can happen is to find all your vital information literally down the drain.

Another weather related incident came in 1985 when thick fog descended on the course, which is only a few miles from the coast. Once again it was a race reading nightmare, but on this occasion I “sprinted” across the course from one side to the other four times to get a view of the action and pick up what I could see. What a relief when the meeting was called off after Tabitha Cave had won the fourth race on Ballytartar. Nowadays I use a more reliable digital recorder, but my days of athleticism are a thing of the past.

The 1989 fixture will always be remembered for a major betting coup at this little country track which would not have been out of place in a Dick Francis novel. The Welsh trained Open winner Katesville, with no recent form to his name, “landed a punt of astronomical proportions from 25’s to sixes” relates the form book. Bookmakers were said to have been stung for over £25,000. Suffice to say an air of suspicion and gossip hung in the air for the rest of the afternoon as Katesville’s horse box plus connections whisked themselves away. The winner’s registered pedigree was later amended.

RESULTS

AXE VALE HARRIERS AT STAFFORD CROSS

WEDNESDAY APRIL 29TH 1981 Going Good

HUNT

1 Sinsinawa VI (Michael Williams)

2 Roman Lily (Chris Down)

3 Culmleigh Padre (B Stevenson) SP evens fav

4 ran; 6l;12l; 6m 32s; SP 1-3 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS’

1 Piping Reed (Michael Williams)

2 Romany Heath (Eddie Whettam)

3 Smart Kid (Nigel Dunn)

8 ran; 5l; 10l; 6m 9s SP evens fav

OPEN

1 Spider Legs (Grant Cann)

2 Grey Granite (J Bishop)

3 Macturk (Tony Harris)

9 ran; 12l; 6l; 6m 10s SP 3-1

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Withen Wood (Rosemary White)

2 Kara Pops (Miss J Woodhouse)

3 Decoy (Janine Mills)

8 ran; 8l; 6l; 6m 6s; SP 11-10 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS’ RESTRICTED

1 Hewish Rocket (Robert Alner)

2 Culm Port (Chris Down)

3 Polly Bird (Eddie Whettam)

11 ran; 4l; neck; 6m 14s; SP 6-4 fav

RESTRICTED OPEN

1 Fire Port (Peter Hobbs)

2 Ali’s Chandy (Jimmy Frost)

3 Sulimnos (Robert Alner)

11 ran; 2l; 4l; 6m 13s; SP 3-1

The Hunt race winner Sinsinawa VI was a genuine mare who won seven races in her career. She was owned and trained by Martin Salter who farmed the land at Stafford Cross. He quickly completed a double when Piping Reed won the Adjacents Hunts’ race, each ridden by Michael Williams. Sinsinawa was in top form in 1981 and had little difficulty here when coming clear of Roman Lilly in the home straight. Stewart Pike’s Roman Lilly subsequently foaled a very good horse called Proud Sun. Culmleigh Padre lost touch down the back straight. He fared better winning this race eight years later.

Piping Reed was a consistent gelding in his grade and won four times in 1981. He finished with his usual flourish to beat Romany Heath who was in touch until the final bend. Smart Kid was not an easy ride but gave useful experience to his rider Nigel Dunn.

Grant Cann was one of the most successful riders of his generation. He rode his first winner (Chancellor) at the Mid Devon when they raced at Moretonhampstead in 1961. When he eventually retired he had a total of 217 winners to his name. Ten of those winners came in 1981, including three on the easy Axe Vale Open winner Spider Legs. Runner up Grey Granite was a proficient jumper but lacked pace. Macturk was left a moderate third when Just Fay departed at the last. He ran in the colours of Roger Penny whose good jumpers in later years included dual Cheltenham Foxhunter winner Earthmover.

Withen Wood was one of a string of successful pointers bred by owner/trainer Raymond Winslade. This big gelding started the season as a maiden and ended it with four wins. On this occasion he was ridden by Rosemary White, who will be remembered for her association with the brilliant mare Horoscope. Kara Pops was a good horse for the Turner’s in his day, but he acted as a schoolmaster now. John Lister’s Decoy was outclassed here despite the assistance of Janine Mills.

Three of the top riders in the area filled the places in the Adjacent Restricted. Robert Alner’s mount Hewish Rocket might have been a lucky winner. Tula Lad was in front when he ran off the course into the spinney on the bend into the home straight (not the only horse I have seen taking this diversion). The eventual runner up Culm Port and Chris Down had won their Maiden at Bratton Down on the previous Saturday. She was a tail swisher, but utterly genuine and went on to win races under rules. Eddie Whettam was another fine rider and steered Polly Bird into third place. This mare was a thorough stayer, ill at ease on this sharp track.

I felt like running into the spinney myself after the last race. My nemesis was called Ali’s Chandy. Jimmy Frost was booked and I remember waiting patiently all afternoon for a decent bet in the Restricted. Although she was a bit wayward, she had run well in fair company at Ottery, and with blinkers now applied the joint editor of the Hunter Chasers and Point-to-Pointers annual and me needed little encouragement. I won’t bore readers any more, but you don’t get paid out on seconds…..the worthy winner was Fire Port ridden by Peter Hobbs.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  • Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers – MacKenzie & Phillips, MacKenzie & Selby – various years
  • The Pointer
  • Sporting Life

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – FLETE PARK

I was looking forward to reporting on the Dartmoor point-to-point at the idyllic setting of Flete Park last weekend. For one reason, it was to be the 40th anniversary year of the first meeting at that venue.

The majority of Dartmoor point-to-points for the first half of the 20th century had taken place at Wrangaton near Ugborough, and Stippadon, near South Brent, which closed in 1962. The old Buckfastleigh racecourse hosted the fixture from 1963 until 1977. It was held at Kilworthy in 1979. The inaugural fixture at Flete Park in 1980 was a joint meeting of the Dartmoor and Modbury Harriers. In current circumstances we will have to be content with a few reminiscences from that first meeting.

A dry spell meant that the ground at Flete in 1980 was officially “hard”, hence a scarcity of runners, plus the fact that 11 other point-to-point meetings took place on that Saturday, just three days after the Axe Vale at Stafford Cross.I had alternatives of Bratton Down or Larkhill on that Saturday, and it was probably curiosity which took me down to the new course of Flete Park. It must be said that watering at Flete these days ensures decent going for every fixture there. The hill side overlooking the splendid parkland course of Flete Park is generally packed, and the late spring dates for the two fixtures now held there are ideal for picnics.

One or two changes have taken place to the actual track over the years, including a wider downhill run after the third last, but the course still goes round the tiny cricket field just past the winning post where I always visualise myself smacking a few sixes. David Trundley’s limited edition entitled “Catching the sun, Flete Park” superbly illustrates the ambience of Flete Park races, including the cricket pavilion in the background, doubling nowadays as the weighing room, declarations area and lady riders’ changing room.

RESULTS

DARTMOOR & MODBURY HARRIERS 26 APRIL 1980

Going Hard

HUNT

1 Hot Fancy (George Welch)

2 Helset (Jimmy Frost)

3 Wistman (Elizabeth Pinsent)

6 ran; 2l; 5l; SP 2-1

ADJACENT HUNTS’

1 Langton Way (John Britton)

2 Frevolity (Nick Fell)

3 Double Lodge (Jimmy Frost)

6 ran; 1/2l; 8l; SP 4-1

OPEN

1 Devon Spirit (Keith Pook)

2 Quisloo (Nick Fell)

3 Grey Granite (John Symons)

4 ran; 7l; 1 1/2l; SP evens jt fav

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Hidden Treasure (Miss Pip Fisher)

2 Goodness Me (Miss C Warwick)

2 ran; 8l; SP 1-2 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS’ MAIDEN

1 Beelzebub (Jimmy Frost)

2 Mary Felicity (Reuben Chapman)

5 ran; only two finished; won by a distance; SP 4-6 fav

I cannot remember what the weather was like on 26th April 1980, but I distinctly remember the weather the previous year when the Dartmoor & Modbury Harriers raced at Kilworthy. It was absolutely atrocious with the tents almost taking off in high winds and lashing rain which was sometimes par for the course on Dartmoor in April. Such luminaries as reporting colleagues Iain MacKenzie and Terry Selby gave me a lift that day, as we saw Hargan at his best lifting Pip Fisher towards her ladies’ title; Village Mark and Grant Cann win their second Maiden in three days (yes it was possible then); Moonstep and Mike Biddick, and Joe’s Farewell all successful.

That grand campaigner Devon Spirit was pulled up with an injured foot that day, but Diana Pook’s 15-year-old took the Open at the opening Flete Park meeting in 1980 under his regular rider Keith Pook. They don’t make them like Devon Spirit any more. Home bred, by Spiritus out of the winning mare Seventh Stmphony, he had won a total of 33 point-to-points and five hunter chases and was in the places 89 times when he retired as a 16-year-old.

The other star on show in 1980 was the Frost mare Armagnac Princess, who had already achieved her hat trick that year but showed her disdain for fast ground at Flete and was pulled up. She went on to win the prestigious Jeep Christie Mens Championship Hunter Chase (£4,425) at Chepstow the following year under a masterful ride from Jimmy Frost.

Paul Tylor’s mare Hidden Treasure was on the downgrade in 1980 after being near top class in her heyday, and did not have to be at her best to beat Goodness Me in a match.

Although Langton Way was only small he was very tough and won over a dozen points for the Britton family. Now a veteran, he ran on like a train down the hill and got up to beat Frevolity close home. Double Lodge was a well bred promising youngster from the Paul Tylor yard who sadly lost his life at Crimp on his next appearance

The Hunt race winner Hot Fancy (George Welch in the saddle) won her share of points for the Welch family ( won this race again two years later) and it is good to see George and his family so well involved today in Westcountry pointing and National Hunt racing.

I cannot leave these notes without reference to Lord Mildmay of Flete. He was without question the best amateur National Hunt jockey of his generation. His first winner in the saddle came in the Dartmoor Members’ race at Wrangaton when he was an undergraduate at Cambridge University. He came close to winning the Grand National in 1936 when his mount Davy Jones ran out when leading at the penultimate fence with a broken rein. After war service with the Guards Division he finished third in the 1948 Grand National on Cromwell.

Anthony Mildmay had inherited the title of Lord Mildmay and the ownership of the Flete estate when his father died in 1947. Dividing his time between his Flete estate and his trainer Peter Cazalet’s stables in Kent, he rode many winners after the war. including at the local tracks such as Buckfastleigh, Newton Abbot and Devon & Exeter. Sadly, Lord Mildmay drowned when taking his regular swim off the local coast in May 1950. He had ridden his last winner on his hunter chaser Prince Brownie at Wye a few days before he died.

His nephew Anthony Mildmay-White is still involved today with Dartmoor point-to- points, and rode the winner of the Dartmoor Hunt race in 1970 on Gold Dust VI before a successful career as an amateur under rules. His brother Richard was narrowly beaten on Ross that day, but went on to win on the same horse at the Mid Devon on the day that Devon Spirit won his Maiden.

As an obituary to Lord Mildmay, brief extracts from a leading article in The Times stated:- ….”All over the country, thousands of people who have never even betted on a steeplechase, let alone seen one run, are vaguely aware that by his death the country has suffered a particular loss…There never was a harder rider, a better loser or a more popular winner….”

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

  • Hunter Chasers and Point to Pointers- various years, Iain MacKenzie, Terry Selby & David Phillips
  • Horse and Hound Year Books – various years
  • Buckfastleigh & South Brent Races- Peter Wakeham
  • The Pointer
  • The Times
  • Anthony Mildmay-White
  • Michael Kutapan (Jumping for Fun Forum)

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES NORTH CORNWALL & FOUR BURROW 1983

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES

EASTER 1983: NORTH CORNWALL & FOUR BURROW

“Oh to be in England now that April’s there”

Robert Browning 1812 – 1889, English poet, died in Venice.

I would normally agree with you about the month of April Mr Browning, but things have changed a bit in 2020. No point-to-points, no racing, no cricket, no soccer, no golf, no tennis, no sport at all. We are all locked up and I haven’t even got an Easter egg.

So I have delved into my scrapbook again to look back to the Easter holiday of 1983. I was lucky to attend two Cornish meetings on the Saturday and Monday – what marketing people would now promote as a “Cornish Easter Festival”. Each of the courses involved have long since been closed.

The Saturday North Cornwall fixture was held at Trewornan Farm, Wadebridge. I seem to remember that it was located on the opposite side of the A39 (and the Camel Estuary) from the Royal Cornwall Showground, where the Wadebridge fixtures take place nowadays. Racing at Trewornan Farm had been held on this right handed, undulating track since 1965. It closed twenty years later in 1985.

NORTH CORNWALL AT TREWORNAN FARM, WADEBRIDGE, APRIL 2ND 1983

Going; Soft

HUNT

1 Swedish Beau (Stephen Long)

2 Harmony Way (Pat Cole)

3 Freeway (Mike Biddick)

4 ran; 3l; distance; 8m 50s SP 4-5 fav

MENS OPEN

1 Frevolity (David Wonnacott)

2 Four Tens (Richard Long)

6 ran; only two finished; won by a distance; 7m 39s SP 1-2 fav

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Hargan (Miss Pip Fisher)

2 Moonbribe (Miss Katie Halswell)

3 Bubbling Spirit (Mrs Jane Wickett)

4 ran; 4l; distance; 7m 58s; SP 1-3 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS’

1 Northern Star (David Wonnacott)

2 Hillie Billie (Grant Cann)

3 Monk’s Flyer (Pat Cole)

8 ran; 1/2l; 6l; 8m 6s SP evens fav

ADJACENT HUNTS’ MAIDEN

1 Golden Singer (Miss Mandy Turner)

2 Phil Grey (J Wright)

3 Sorcerer (Chris Crosthwaite)

11 ran; 1l; 1/2l; 8m 6s; SP 11-10 fav

My journey to the racecourse that day was via the Cornish pasty shop in the centre of Wadebridge, a culinary habit that has continued to this day. A few winning jolly old favourites soon covered the cost of the pasty.

The Hunt race was a bit of a farce taking nearly nine minutes. The winner Swedish Beau had previously shown some form at the Lamerton, and won this event easily enough. His rider Stephen Long was sometimes associated with the excellent Dicky Blob in that era. Swedish Beau’s main rival Harmony Way had refused early on before continuing tailed off.

Frevolity was the only one to jump round this tough track in the six-runner Men’s Open, beating the remounted Four Tens very easily under David Wonnacott. He was probably the best of Rame Fell’s decent string of pointers at the time, winning over 20 races. It was a very dark day which still sticks sadly in my memory when he met his end at Kilworthy the following season.

The Ladies’ winner Hargan was another ultra consistent pointer who was a star of the Westcountry Ladies’ scene in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Well bred, by Harwell out of a Vulgan mare, this strong chestnut mare was owned and trained by Paul Tylor, who travelled his horses’ miles from his base on The Lizard, the most southerly point on the British mainland. Hargan, who loved heavy ground, was the Grand Marnier champion when winning seven times in 1979, contributing significantly to Pip Fisher’s National Ladies’ championship that year. Eventually the winner of 36 races, and with her regular rider up, she kept her form well and had little difficulty in beating John Weldhen’s Moonbribe on this occasion at Wadebridge. Bubbling Spirit was a headstrong mare who had no chance of staying this trip after leading early.

Northern Star was completing a double for trainer Rame Fell and jockey David Wonnacott when setting up his seasonal hat trick in the Adjacents Hunts’. Northern Star just got the better of Grant Cann’s mount Hillie Billie after jumping the last. The winner was evidently hard to train, though he did win twice in the same day (including a walk over) under Gordon Edwards at Kilworthy in 1985. It is good to see Millie Wonnacott upholding the family tradition in the saddle today (her mother Claire was also an accomplished rider). John Squire’s Hillie Billie never seemed to fulfil his potential. He did manage to win the Bolventor Members’ under Kelvin Heard two years later. Monk’s Flyer was hard to win with, but his gallant veteran rider Pat Cole eventually won a couple of modest races on this non stayer after years of trying.

Golden Singer led all the way to win the Maiden, well ridden by Mandy Turner (now Mandy Hand). He didn’t progress much afterwards, but the runner up Phil Grey certainly did. The five-year-old failed to complete on his first two runs but his promise here was soon fulfilled and he went on to win over 20 races, including four hunter chases. Sorcerer was quite a modest pointer and went on to win the Hunt race at this meeting the following year.

A profitable day if my memory serves me correctly, with enough left over for a couple of nights stay in Newquay.

FOUR BURROW AT OLD MERROSE FARM, TEHIDY, EASTER MONDAY APRIL 4TH 1983

Going Good

HUNT

1 Fyghame (Mike Biddick)

2 Silvers’s Pet (D Harris)

3 Tombstone (Miss T Congdon)

4 ran; 2l; 10l; 7m 37s

MENS OPEN

1 Happy Klondyke (S Williams)

2 Viewfinder (Pat Cole)

2 ran; distance; 7m 39s

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Moon Step (Miss Katie Halswell)

2 Hargan (Miss Pip Fisher)

3 House Breaker (Miss Tracy Turner)

5 ran; 1l; 2l; 7m 29s

ADJACENT HUNTS’ RESTRICTED
1 Presceena Wood (Miss Pip Fisher)

2 Monk’s Flyer (Pat Cole)

3 Sandy Leys (B Webber)

7 ran; short head; 1l; 7m 26s

ADJACENT HUNTS’ MAIDEN

1 Fisher Folk (S Williams)

2 What A Chance (David Wonnacott)

3 Moonbribe (Miss Katie Halswell )

8 ran; 15l; 1/2l; 7m 24s

After writing up Saturday’s notes in Newquay, it was only about 20 miles down the road to Tehidy, near Camborne, for the Easter Monday fixture. The course was a bit rustic from what I can remember. Right handed, undulating, with some plough over a distance of about three and a half miles which suited strong stayers.

It was only the jockeyship of Mike Biddick that got the favourite Fyghame home to win the Members’ after a sloppy display of jumping. The runner up Silver’s Pet, fresh from finishing fourth in the Maiden at Wadebridge, led until the last in what was a moderate race.

Happy Klondyke had the race won when he blundered two out in a disappointing match for the Men’s Open. This was his best season though and he notched up four wins, culminating in a commendable third behind Cheekio Ora at Cheltenham’s hunter chase evening meeting. Viewfinder was a veteran by now and was well behind from half way.

Hargan turned out again for the Ladies’ Open after her success two days previously. She looked the winner until giving best to Moonstep approaching the last. These were two of the best Ladies’ horses in the area and John Weldhen’s Moonstep was completing a five-timer at the Four Burrow.

Hargan’s rider Pip Fisher took the next race when the grey mare Presceena Wood just held on to beat Monk’s Flyer by a short head. Presceena Wood went on to win a couple of races under rules in Paul Tylor’s colours. Monk’s Flyer was also turning out quickly after Saturday’s effort and ran probably his best race of the season. He had led until two out and rallied well close home. Sandy Leys was a fine jumper who eventually won races under Frank Edwards from the yard of Keith Cumings.

Fisher Folk won the Maiden very easily but did not really progress afterwards. Moonbribe was made favourite on the strength of his fine effort at Wadebridge, but lay well off the pace and was never a threat. It was fully a year before he broke his duck at the 19th attempt. What A Chance went on to win his share of minor races and became something of a Flete Park specialist.

The Old Merrose Farm track at Tehidy closed after the 1985 meeting. The Four Burrow fixture moved to the new Wadebridge course on the showground until 2000 when the meeting became established at Trebudannon.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

MacKenzie & Selby’s Point-to-Pointers and Hunter Chasers

Horse and Hound Year Book

The Pointer

Sporting Life

Sporting Chronicle

Mr Michael Kutapan (Jumping for Fun forum)

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES: SPOONER’S & WEST DARTMOOR

For those of you looking for my normal on the spot report from the Cherrybrook meeting scheduled for this weekend, I am sorry but for reasons beyond my control there isn’t one……

However, all is not lost. Instead of the meeting scheduled for April 5th 2020, this week’s trip down memory lane takes us back to the Spooner’s & West Dartmoor fixture held at Kilworthy 41 years ago.

For Westcountry aficionados, I have added a few notes at the end about the past history of this particular point-to-point.

RESULTS

SPOONER’S & WEST DARTMOOR AT KILWORTHY APRIL 14TH 1979

Going; Good to soft

HUNT

1 Bararden (Nick Fell)

2 Snake Dance (Michael Williams)

3 Cornish Butterfly (P Lane)

6 ran; 12l; 4l; 7m 1s SP 4-1

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Wiener Chic (Mrs Sue Reynard)

2 Tam Rating (Miss Pip Fisher)

3 Lady Christine (Miss Doreen Hutchings)

8 ran; dist; neck; 6m 57s SP 2-7 fav

MEN’S OPEN

1 French Garcon (John Symons)

2 Hidden Treasure (Martin Keenor)

3 Uncle Arthur II (Jimmy Frost)

8 ran; head; dist 6m 59s SP 1-2 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS’

1 Trentishoe (Jimmy Frost)

2 Moon Step (Mike Biddick)

3 Moorland Lassie (Mark Reeves)

15 ran; 5l; 8l; 6m 57s SP 3-1

ADJACENT HUNTS’ MAIDEN

1 Raucous (RJ Reddaway)

2 Goodness Me (Jimmy Frost)

3 Used Notes (MF Hill)

14 ran; 1l; 5l; 7m 9s SP evens fav

Rame Fell’s bonny grey Bararden made all the running to win the Members’ ridden by the owner’s son Nick. This regular front runner was a Kilworthy specialist and improved further to win a Taunton hunter chase the following season. Snake Dance was a game and consistent staying mare who was one of the few pointers to win two Maiden races before the rules were changed. She won a total of 10 point-to-points in her career. Cornish Butterfly had not won since 1974, but finished well to take third just ahead of Kasim Baba and Amatol. Age had caught up with Kasim Baba, who was running his last race aged 14. He was unbeaten in six races and the third top rated pointer in the land in 1973, but very lightly raced afterwards.

Baraden winning at Wadebridge

The Ladies’ winner Wiener Chic was a high class German bred point-to-pointer and hunter chaser. He had won hurdle races for Fred Rimell in his younger days, but was not straight forward and was purchased for 750 gns. He soon notched up a string of pointing wins for Sue Reynard, and sailed home a distance clear of a decent field on this occasion. Tam Rating was a hard ride and the talented Pip Fisher drove him into second, ahead of such good pointers as Lady Christine (Doreen Hutchings) and Galloway Fabulous (Katie Halswell). Kilworthy specialist The Vee was in touch when unseating Belinda Fuller (now the Lamerton Point-to-Point secretary) after half way. It is worth noting that Wiener Chic, ridden by Sue Reynard, went on to finish third in the Cheltenham Foxhunters in 1980.

French Garcon was a highly rated pointer from the family of Arkle. He was winning for the fourth consecutive time, and had just beaten Panmure in a hunter chase at Devon and Exeter, albeit receiving weight and with Jimmy Frost up. His owner/rider on this occasion, John Symons, is no Jimmy Frost, and he made heavy weather of beating Paul Tylor’s mare Hidden Treasure (Martin Keenor). Michael Ogle’s Uncle Arthur II was fresh from beating Bararden at Wadebridge (the old course at Trewornan farm), but finished a tired third.

I remember the Adjacent Hunts’ winner Trentishoe as one of my favourite horses in those days – probably because she did me a few favours in the betting ring. A small mare by Romany Air, with the heart of a lion, she was owned and trained by Gail Harrison. She had the assistance of Jimmy Frost in the saddle, and ended a successful season by winning the John Corbet Cup at Stratford. John Weldhen’s Moonstep was a very useful pointer, bought cheaply off the flat. A consistent staying type, he had won this race the previous season with Mike Biddick up, but was no match for Trentishoe this time. He went on to win multiple points however and sprang a 25-1 surprise in the 1981 Jeep Christie Ladies’ hunter chase at Chepstow, ridden by the talented Katie Halswell. Third placed Moorland Lassie was fresh from winning the South Devon members’ and kept on well close home. The recent course winner Langton Way ran his usual sound race in fourth, just ahead of Joe’s Farewell, who went on to win the Tedworth Gold Cup at Larkhill over four miles later in the season.

I cannot remember much about the Maiden winner Raucous. He didn’t run much and was obviously out of his depth in his two previous races (trying to mix it with such as Spartan Missile, Wisbech Lad and Ten Up in military races at Sandown). A drop to this modest Maiden must have been just the ticket. The runner up Goodness Me was a half sister to the aforementioned Joe’s Farewell and won next time out at the Mid Devon. Used Notes improved four places on the run in, and duly obliged next time at Crimp Morwenstow. She subsequently won under rules at Haldon.

SOME HISTORY OF SPOONER’S POINT-TO-POINTS

The first details I have about the link between point-to-pointing and Mr Spooner’s Harriers is that they held a joint meeting with the Lamerton Hunt at Whitchurch Down on 9th March 1924. A joint meeting with Plymouth Garrison Hunt Club was held at Dunnabridge near Princetown the following year, and the Harriers continued at that venue until April 1929.

One of the leading lady point-to-point riders of that era, Miss Sylvia Spooner, had taken over the mastership of the pack from her father, Clarence Spooner, in 1926. A fixture at Kilworthy is recorded on 9th April 1930, but it was back to Dunnabridge the next year. I had to smile at a Western Morning News report of the 1938 meeting: “Conditions were not conducive to the comfort of spectators.” I wonder how many times I could have said that when struggling to make notes in a muddy field with soggy race cards over the years. The Harriers raced at Dunnabridge until 1951.

April 30th 1952 saw the start of a long run of fixtures at Kilworthy. Frank Ryall rode a treble on that occasion, including the Adjacent Hunts’ Pony race on Lonesome Boy. That famous East Cornwall pony was described as “invincible” in Geoffrey Sale’s 1960 annual. When he retired after the 1959 season he had won 65 times, including 53 consecutive races, all in the Westcountry and many over banks.

In the 1959 hunting season the pack became known as Spooner’s Foxhounds, and after acquiring some country on Dartmoor for 1961/62 the Spooner’s and West Dartmoor Hunt came into being. Their point-to-points were held at Kilworthy until the move to Cherrybrook, adjacent to the Kilworthy track, in 1986.

Other Photo galleries

spoonerswd.co.uk

facebook.com/Cherrybrook Racing

Acknowledgments:

  • Hunter Chasers and Point to Pointers (various years)– Sale & MacKenzie
  • The Point to Point Calendar (various years 1933 – 1938)
  • The Pointer
  • Horse & Hound Year Book
  • Baily’s Hunting Directory
  • Mr Michael Kutapan – Point to Point History & Research ( Jumping For Fun web site)
  • Western Morning News