GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – SOUTH TETCOTT

“Life moves forward. The old leaves wither, die and fall away, and the new growth extends forward into the light.

Bryant McGill, American author, “Voice of Reason

I was looking forward to the South Tetcott Spring Bank Holiday Monday fixture at Upcott Cross, but it was not to be this year. The point-to-point has settled there alongside the Eggesford since 2006, but it had been a moveable feast since the war. Here is a short description of its history.

The early South Tetcott meetings were held jointly with the Tetcott. From March 1924 the venue was Affaland Moor near Holsworthy, and this arrangement continued until the 1939 season. The star West Country horse in the early 1930’s was Mr Snip, an outstanding banking horse, bred by his owner Mr C T Nixon in North Devon. He won 0ver 20 races, including at this fixture each year from 1933 to 1936. Main Doctor was another good horse in the area and won at this fixture in 1937, 1938 and 1939 and remarkably went on to win three open nomination races in 1946.The leading West Country rider at that time was Mr F W B Smyth.

Joint meetings continued after the war, but from the fixture on 28th March 1946 until 1954 the fixture was held at Marhamchurch near Bude. The two point-to-points went their separate ways in 1955 when the Tetcott raced at Bradworthy on 17th March, and the South Tetcott went to Ashbury two weeks later.

This arrangement continued until foot and mouth led to cancelled fixtures in 1961, but the South Tetcott reverted to Ashbury, near Hatherleigh, in 1962 when that popular gelding Grand Morn II (R Bloomfield) won the Open. He went on to win the Cheltenham Foxhunter the following year. In those days it was run over the proper distance of four miles.

The 1963 meeting was lost due to the heavy snowfall that winter, and from then on several disruptions affected the fixture. In 1964 the venue was Kilworthy, but no fixtures were held after that until a new course at Beara Court, Highampton, hosted their first evening meeting on May 22nd 1968. The hunt race was a walk over, but jockeys such as Walter Dennis, Sue Aston, Colonel C R Spencer and Fred Rawle were amongst the winners.

The official times at the evening fixture at Highampton on May 21st 1969 reflected the shortness of the course. The Ladies’ Open went to Honey Ruff and Mrs K Huntley-Jones in 4mins 30 secs. The going was heavy ! Either the horses were Gold Cup standard or the track was very much shorter than the traditional three miles. I think it was the latter.

One of the leading point-to-pointers in the country won the Open Novice race there in 1970 which was sponsored by the Sale and Mackenzie annual. This was the Ledbury six-year-old Priceless Clown who won six times that year. Mrs Gaze’s gelding was ridden by Henry Oliver, and beat title seeking David Turner on Master Vesuvius that night in 4 mins 58 secs.

No fixtures were held between 1972 and 1984, but on Spring Bank Holiday Monday 1985 a new course was unveiled at Ashwater. This re-instituted fixture was originally scheduled for Grand National day but was washed out. The re-arrangement almost suffered the same fate but just survived the heavy rain. Ashwater was a narrow, rectangular course. I was there that day and remember backing Chris Down’s mount Pembridge in the last to give him a treble. The mare was pipped on the post and I got wet through. It was a funny little track and not the easiest for spectators. It was often beset with late season hard going, and only lasted until 1992.

More bad luck awaited in 1993 when a move to Jay’s Farm, Lifton was thwarted by waterlogging. This was quite a nice location on land owned by the Cornish comedian Jethro (who is still going strong because I went to his show at the Electric Palace, Bridport, six months ago, but that is not really relevant here). Jethro owned one or two pointers in those days. The hunt raced at Lifton until the move to the Upcott Cross course in 2006. This venue, shared with the Eggesford, is more of a stayers track and has permanent facilities. It is superbly maintained by the owners Ken and John Heard, who are great supporters of point-to-pointing.

The South Tetcott meeting for this week’s reminiscence is their first to take place at Lifton in 1994.

SOUTH TETCOTT AT LIFTON 30TH MAY 1994

Going: Good

HUNT

1 Royal Effigy (Richard Cole)

2 Catundra (David Jones)

3 Handsome Deb (Mrs C Isaac)

4 ran; dist; dist; 6m 25s SP 4-6 fav

OPEN

1 The Blue Boy (Damien Duggan)

2 Bluechipenterprise (Richard Darke)

3 Olveston (George Turner)

4 ran; dist; dist; 6m 4s SP evens fav

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Curraheen Lad (Tracey Brown)

2 Timber Tool (Alison Dare)

3 Sweet on Willie (Mandy Turner)

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

CONFINED

1 Buckingham Band (George Turner)

2 Bayford Energy (Ian Widdicombe)

3 Pharoah Blue (Claire Wonnacott)

15 ran; 5l; 6l; 6m 10s SP 2-1

INTERMEDIATE

1 Columcille (Richard White)

2 Beinn Mohr (Mandy Turner)

3 Anjubi (Stephen Slade)

9 ran; 3l; 4l; 6m 10s SP 4-1

OPEN MAIDEN

1 Sunwind (David Heath)

2 Aristocratic Gold (Mandy Turner)

3 Double Light (S Trotman)

14 ran; 3l; dist; 6m 23s SP 8-1

The Hunt race winner Royal Effigy was basically a non-stayer and found a weak opportunity here.

Damien Duggan was chasing the title that year. He formed a consistent partnership with the Peter Bowen trained The Blue Boy who had been a speedy hurdler for Martin Pipe and was now making hay as a pointer. Duggan failed by one to overtake Nick Bloom for the title. Bluechipenterprise had won his last three races for Richard Darke, but was readily outpaced here.

The Pembrokeshire gelding Timber Tool was a prolific pointing winner and was all the rage for a good Ladies’ Open with five times champion jockey Alison Dare in the saddle. This time however the favourite had to give best to the Edward Retter trained Curraheen Lad. The winner had shown good form with recent wins at both Flete Park meetings with Tracey Brown in the saddle. This time Tracey pounced entering the home straight to win going away.

George Turner, then 58 years old, was on his way to lifting the area title with 14 successes. Six-year-old Buckingham Band, stabled with his daughter Pauline Geering provided four of his winners although he was not the most fluent of jumpers. On this occasion Buckingham Band stayed on strongly to hold the sustained challenge of Bayford Energy and Ian Widdicombe.

Columcille was completing her seasonal hat trick in the Intermediate. I am old enough to remember her dam winning for Robert Alner (called Damside). By this time Harry Wellstead held the pointing licence for the yard and Columcille was the mount of Richard (Johnson) White, now a long standing part of the Philip Hobbs yard.

Owner-rider David Heath enjoyed his first winner on the well backed Sunwind (14’s to 8’s) in the Maiden where only four of the 14 runners finished.

ACKNOWLEGMENTS

  • Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers, Mackenzie & Selby, various years
  • The Continuing Story of Point-to-Point Racing, Michael Williams
  • Point-to-point Calendar, Arthur W Coaten, various years
  • The Pointer
  • Michael Kutapan – Point-to-point History & Research, Jumping For Fun website

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – DULVERTON WEST

In recent years the Dulverton West fixture has been one of three late season meetings held at Bratton Down, with its moorland turf, unpredictable climate and panoramic views across high Exmoor.

I always think that when the first Bratton Down meeting takes place it signals that we are reaching the final chapter of the season. Unfortunately this season the last rites were administered as early as March 15th at Buckfastleigh.

My first visit to Bratton Down was on June 4th 1977 when the ground was officially hard and runners were scarce. There have been warm, sunnier days since then, although heavy rain once forced abandonment after four races and a few years ago wind and driving rain forced the bookmakers to conduct business in a tiny tent. It was like getting the SP’s in a rugby scrum.

From a historical point of view, the original Dulverton Hunt was formed in 1875 when Lord Portsmouth handed over the country to Mr J Froude Bellew, squire of Anstey. The first record I have of a Dulverton Hunt point-to-point meeting is on 17th April 1925 at Anstey Common. Subsequent Dulverton meetings took place mainly at Anstey Common until the 1939-45 world war.

After the war the hunt was divided into the Dulverton East and the Dulverton West. Their first joint point-to-point fixture was held on 16th April 1947 at Venford, West Anstey. This arrangement continued until their last joint meeting there on April 18th 1959.

The Dulverton East continued to race at Venford until 1983, but on April 23rd 1960 (60 years ago) the Dulverton West started their long association with Bratton Down.

I cannot resist a few lines about the course at Venford. I started to go there in the late 1970’s. It had a character all its own. My memory recalls it as like racing round the shape of a frying pan until the later years, when a slightly different layout was tried. A real jockeys course, tight bends, sharp, left-handed, undulating, adverse camber in places. Quite a few incidents took place on the bends at the bottom part of the track. The going tended to be on the quick side. I suppose it had a resemblance to the defunct Alexandra Park, except the London track was the opposite way round.

In 1984 the Dulverton East moved to Mounsey Hill Gate. This place was the forerunner of racing behind closed doors. It was hopeless for spectators as much of the action could not be seen – Mackenzie & Selby’s 1988 annual is rather dismissive: ”seemed to have been originally designed specifically to make racing invisible…” About the only personal positive memory I can relate is that it was a nice journey via Wheddon Cross which sometimes took in nearby Tarr Steps from my home in Somerset.

Racing ceased there in 2007 when the point-to-point moved to Treborough Hill, which was a little more user friendly for the paying public on the Brendon Hills with views of the Bristol Channel. In 2002 the hunt’s name was changed to the Dulverton Farmers, and they raced at Treborough until it closed in 2014. One of my memories of that course was when racing was snowed off after four races in 2013.

This year’s aborted Dulverton West fixture had been scheduled for 17th May at Bratton Down. My reminiscence covers the 1989 fixture:-

DULVERTON WEST AT BRATTON DOWN 20TH MAY 1989

Going: Firm

HUNT

1 Raid Hope (Ian Widdicombe)
2 Mr Bigwig (Linda Blackford)
3 ran; only two finished; won by a distance; SP 11-10

LADIES’ OPEN

1 For A Lark (Mandy Turner)
2 Gerry Doyle (Julie Barrow)
3 My Mellow Man (Jenny Litston)
9 ran; 12l; 8l; 5m 58s; SP 4-5 fav

OPEN

1 And Theres More (Justin Farthing)
2 Bishopric (George Turner)
3 Rashleigh Boy (Ian Widdicombe)
10 ran; 5l; 2l; 6m 3s SP 10-11 fav

PPOA MEMBERS

1 Otabari (Justin Farthing)
2 Oak Lodge (Robert Alner)
3 Rate of Exchange (Ron Treloggen)
10 ran; 1/2l; dist; 5m 59s SP 5-4 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS

1 Admiral Benbow (Gordon Edwards)
2 River Culm (Chris Down)
3 Eagle Tavern (Philip Rawle)
8 ran; short head; 1/2l; 6m 9s SP 10-11 fav

ADJACENT RESTRICTED

1 Flodabay (Paul Hosgood)
2 Master Tuesday (Chris Down)
3 Isle Ornay (Linda Blackford)
20 ran; 1l; 2l; 6m 5s SP 25-1

Hunt race winner Raid Hope was quite useful in his day for owner Jenny Hayes, but was now at the veteran stage. His jockey Ian Widdicombe was enjoying his best season with nine winners. The favourite Golden Cargo lost his rider Tony Hill at the first.

The Ladies’ open was a cracker. The winner For A Lark was a legend in the Devon & Cornwall area and was in the form of his life. His owner / trainer, the late John Weldhen, bought him off the flat for 1300 guineas and he was about to be crowned Grand Marnier champion with 10 wins in 1989. Mandy Turner picked up the ride when Janine Mills was injured in March and went on to secure her fourth area Ladies’ title that year. The runner up Gerry Doyle was also a top class pointer in the colours of his Dorset based trainer Richard Barber who sadly died last June. Richard saddled his final winner, Whataknight, at Bratton Down in 2015. Out of the hundreds of the pointing winners he handled, he rated Gerry Doyle as one of his best. The talented Julie Barrow was in the saddle on this occasion. Jenny Litston, who rode third placed My Mellow Man for her father was another top class lady jockey who had won the national title in 1988. Her career was tragically cut short in a Larkhill fall in 1993

Justin Farthing was one of the strongest riders of the day. He rode 124 winners during his career, and became national champion in 1991. His double at the Dulverton West was initiated when Open winner And Theres More won his fifth successive race of the season from Keith Cumings’ yard. Most of Justin’s winners came for Richard Barber though, and the PPOA members’ winner Otabari was one of these. This sturdy chestnut had won the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in his career.

Admiral Benbow was a Bratton Down specialist and showed plenty of guts up the finishing hill to deny River Culm and Eagle Tavern after the latter pair had jumped the last in front together in the Adjacents’. Gordon Edwards, father of current Devon & Cornwall area champion Darren Edwards, was Admiral Benbow’s regular jockey.

The Adjacent Restricted winner Flodabay was a big, strong type, owned and trained by Gordon Chambers, and was one of jockey Paul Hosgood’s ten winners that season. After four successive jollys had gone in it was time for an outsider and the lightly raced Flodabay popped up at 25-1. To be fair, he was probably a lucky winner because runner up Master Tuesday had lost a lot of ground when nearly falling at the last ditch and was closing again at the finish.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  • Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers – MacKenzie & Selby – various years
  • Horse & Hound Year Book – various years
  • The Pointer
  • Baily’s Hunting Directory 1934
  • Michael Kutapan – Point-to-point History & Research, Jumping For Fun website
  • Point-to-Point Calendar 1933 – 1938– Arthur W Coaten

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – EGGESFORD

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.….”

A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens 1812-1870

The first record I have of an Eggesford point-to-point shows a fixture at Loosenden Cross on 10th April 1923. After three years at that location the meeting moved to Bishopsleigh for five seasons. This was not the same as the Bishopsleigh course used from the 1960’s.

From 1931 until 1935 the fixture was held at Pudson near Okehampton, before moving to a more settled venue at Sticklepath, also near Okehampton, until that course was closed after the 1955 meeting. The next few years saw the point-to-point at Loosebeare near Crediton, but cancellations in 1961 due to foot and mouth disease, and again in 1963 when it was waterlogged spelt the end of that track.

It was on to Bishopsleigh, near Crediton in 1964 until the last fixture there in April 2000. A brief sojourn at Lifton followed until the move to today’s venue at Upcott Cross in 2006. Keen pointing followers Ken and John Heard ensure their course is maintained to the highest standards.

The star rider in Devon in the 1930’s was Mr E Hocking. His six winners in 1937 put him joint second in the country that year. He rode several winners at the Eggesford meetings in the 1930’s, including a treble on the five-race card in 1938. Two of those three wins came on the same mare, Gipsy Queen II. Not content with a five lengths win in the four runner opening Hunt race, two races later the pair won the Farmers’ race from five opponents. Mr Hocking’s hat trick was achieved in the Adjacents’ Maiden on Ever Ready. Gipsy Queen II also won a race at the 1939 meeting.

Various joint meetings were held between 1946 and 1951 at Sticklepath. These included joining up on occasions with the Tiverton Staghounds, Hatherleigh Harriers and Mid Devon.

From a personal point of view I enjoyed the rural atmosphere of Bishopsleigh, although it took a bit of finding in the countryside, a few miles from Crediton. It was never the easiest for viewing. I remember a field of plough at the top part of the left handed course which was furthest from the eye. In the late 1980’s the track was re-designed minus the plough, the layout was changed with trees in the way which virtually ruined any chance of proper race reading.

I hope that my friend Jimmy Frost will forgive me for revealing the following , but my over-riding memory of Bishopsleigh concerns a race he won there in 1982. The results will show that Tudor Era won the Restricted Open, but here is the true story behind that result. A horse called Boston Lights finished first with Jimmy’s mount Tudor Era, carrying my bet, chasing her home, but Boston Lights and her rider Mrs Cathy Hamilton had gone the wrong side of a marker on the top bend. In the winner’s enclosure I remember telling Jimmy that I had seen the “winner” miss a marker and he said he was aware of it. “Are you going to object,” I said to him with monetary greed obviously in mind. “Yes, but I need 15 quid to lodge it and I haven’t got any money on me,” was the gist of his reply. So I rustled together the requisite 15 pound notes and stuffed them in his hands. Objection duly lodged – one of the stewards then confirmed that Boston Lights had indeed dodged inside a marker and the result was changed. So in the end Jimmy and Tudor Era got the race, I collected from the bookies and our “deposit” was returned.

The spotlight this week is on the 1987 meeting at Bishopsleigh, run just before a lengthy dry spell saw firm and hard ground setting in.

EGGESFORD AT BISHOPSLEIGH EASTER MONDAY 20 APRIL 1987

Going: Good

HUNT

1 Cal Mal (Philip Scholfield)
2 Jackotino (Biddy Peck)
3 Tharus O’Riley (Hugh Trerise)
5 ran; 4l; 4l; 7m 10s SP 3-1

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Stoneyard (Linda Delve)
2 Les Dancer (Tracy Westcott)
3 Easy Steed (Melanie Ranger)
8 ran; 6l; 4l; 6m 44s

ADJACENT HUNTS’

1 Akarakil (Kelvin Heard)
2 Champagne Bar (Philip Scholfield)
3 Plain Henry (Chris Boumphrey)
7 ran; 5l; dist; 7m 2s; SP 6-1

RESTRICTED OPEN

1 River Culm (Chris Down)
2 Tudor Mark (Sara Luxton)
3 Dusky Heart (Gerald Penfold)
4 ran; 4l; dist; 7m 0s SP 1-3 fav

MEN’S OPEN

1 Golden Link (Philip Scholfield)
2 Lavernia (Chris Down)
3 Ankus (Oliver Harvey)
6 ran; 1l; 2l; 7m 0s; SP 4-6 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS’ MAIDEN

1 Barton Boy (Philip Scholfield)
2 Samantha Whiskers (P J Austin)
3 Meadow Lad (M R Williams)
14 ran; 20l; 2l; 6m, 59s; SP 3-1

The winner and runner up in the Hunt race were both owned by Ken Dunn who was then one of the leading owners in the area. He provided Philip with many of his 18 winners in 1987 enabling him to finish runner up behind Mike Felton for the National title that year, and to claim the title with 37 winners the following year. Cal Mal was very useful on good ground and went on to land the £4,500 Land Rover Champion hunter chase at Chepstow later that season.

The Ladies’ winner Stoneyard was by a very good sire in those days called The Parson. Her original owner, the late Gerald Probert, was an estate agent in Somerset and Devon, and used to source his pointers from Ireland. One of his purchases was Queen Beyan who had landed something of a coup at Garthorpe in Leicestershire 1986 after a below par run at the South Tetcott a few days before – but that is a story for another day. Stoneyard was not the most reliable mare but was following up her win in the Tiverton Stag Ladies’ Open at Bishopsleigh three weeks previously with Linda Delve in the saddle. She was left clear here when Reuben Dewy ran out at the third last.

Two refusers and a faller altered the shape of the seven-runner Adjacents’ at the sixth fence. Champagne Bar looked the winner at the third last, but was readily outstayed by Akarakil and Kelvin Heard in the closing stages. The favourite Plain Henry was a good stayer but failed to sparkle here.

The Restricted was a modest affair won by River Culm. This home bred mare gave Chris Down his 100th winner as she shook off the challenge of Tudor Mark in the closing stages. Third placed Dusky Heart lost touch after a bad mistake at the 13th fence. I noticed when researching the 1930’s that Chris’s father Norman rode a few winners, including at the Eggesford in 1934

There are two things in particular I recall about the Men’s Open winner Golden Link, who was owned by regular pointing follower John Symes. The first was when he opened his account in a good Adjacent on only his second start as a five-year-old at the old Taunton Vale course of Jordans, Ilminster, (drop fences, poor viewing) ridden by Bob Buckler at 20-1. (why bother with Maiden races….). The second was seeing him win a Leicester hunter chase a few years later – only 3-1 that day. To be honest, I don’t remember much about this Eggesford race. A bright chestnut, he was a really strong stayer and the form book shows he was all out to beat Chris Down’s mount Lavernia. Third placed Ankus was a veteran ex-chaser acting as a schoolmaster for Oliver Harvey, brother of Luke.

Philip Scholfield rode Golden Link to add to his win on Cal Mal, and his good run of form continued when he won the concluding 14-runner Maiden on Barton Boy for Ken Dunn. This time he was lucky because the favourite Tudor Mile had the race sewn up with a five lengths advantage when losing his rider at the last. That was Bishopsleigh for you.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  • MacKenzie & Phillips  / Mackenzie & Selby – various years
  • Point to point calendars 1933 -1939= Arthur W Coaten
  • Horse & Hound Year Book – various years
  • The Continuing Story of Point-to-Point racing- Michael Williams
  • The Pointer
  • Michael Kutapan – History & research Jumping for Fun website

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – STEVENSTONE

“I wasted time and now doth time waste me. For now hath time made me his numbering clock…”

William Shakespeare – Richard II

It would have been the 25th anniversary of point-to-point racing at Vauterhill, Devon, this season. The Stevenstone had chosen the VE day Bank Holiday Friday for this occasion, but unfortunately there will be no activity this season at this North Devon track.

The Stevenstone have raced at many locations over the years. The earliest meeting I can find was on 1st April 1908 at Melbury near Bideford. Most fixtures before 1939, with the odd exception, were held at Cranford St Giles near Torrington and this arrangement continued after the war. A joint meeting with the Torrington Farmers took place from 1947 until 1949 at Cranford until those hunts’ went their separate ways in 1950. The Stevenstone’s meeting in 1951 is recorded as being at Monkleigh, but it was at Cranford again from 1952 until the closure of that course in 1961 when foot and mouth disease saw that year’s meeting cancelled.

It was during the 1950’s that a remarkable pointing record was set up that may never be broken. Lonesome Boy won the same race, the Adjacent Hunts’ Ladies at the Stevenstone, for eight successive years from 1952 until 1959. When that superb East Cornwall horse retired he had won 65 races, 53 of them in succession over a variety of steeplechase fences and banks. Jumping technique on to and off the banks was an important attribute and I could not believe how steep the banks were until looking at the recently released vintage West Country Videos DVD which features some of the bank races at Cranford. Another prolific winner of that era was the mare Delilah who won 48 pony races, some of them at Stevenstone meetings. The 1962 meeting at Horwood included such riders as Grant Cann, Sue Aston (16 years old then), Bertie Hill and Frank Ryall. Horwood continued to host the fixture until a single meeting at Worlington in 1969. There was a meeting at Bishopsleigh in 1970 until a move to Bratton Down which lasted until 1976. It was on to Crimp Morwenstowe in 1977 until 1989 when they moved to Stibb Cross, and then to Vauterhill 25 years ago.

I have two recollections of Crimp. My first trip there was in 1984 on very firm ground when John Weldhen’s Moon Step won the Ladies’ under Janine Mills and his stable companion Moonbribe slipped up on a bend with Mike Biddick in the Open. Blue Beans and Grant Cann went on to win. The other was when racing was abandoned due to thick fog after waiting all afternoon for the fog to clear. I cannot remember which year that was.

One recollection of the quaint undulating little course at Stibb Cross is still quite clear and makes me smile when I think about it. I was asked by a top jockey if I would overlook when publishing the results the overweight she weighed out at (about 4 lbs I think). I suggested to her something like a visit to weight watchers, but I am afraid her response was unprintable.

The compact layout at Vauterhill is aptly illustrated in MacKenzie and Selby’s Annual covering the first meeting there in 1995, “so compact that a sweet stall stuck right in front of bookies enables purchases of sweets and a bet by just turning round”. The layout is better nowadays at this friendly venue.

STEVENSTONE AT VAUTERHILL – MONDAY 8TH MAY 1995

Going: Firm

HUNT

1 Tranquil Waters (Gerald Penfold
2 Romany Anne (Susan Young)
4 ran; only two finished; won by a distance: 7m 27s SP 2-9 fav

OPEN

1 Olveston (George Turner)
2 Pere Bazille (Ian Widdicombe)
2 ran; 12l; 6m 28s SP 2-5 fav

LADIES’ OPEN

1 Khattaf (Joanne Cumings)
2 Searcy (Linda Blackford)
3 Gan Awry (Mandy Hand)
7 ran; 2l; 20l; 6m 27s SP 10-11 fav

CONFINED

1 Horwood Ghost (Ron Treloggen)
2 Walkers Point (George Turner)
3 Oneovertheight (Neil Harris)
5 ran; 6l; dist; SP 5-2

RESTRICTED

1 Magnolia Man (Neil Harris)
2 Querrin Lodge (Tom Greed)
3 Rasta Man (George Turner)
9 ran; 20l; 20l; 6m 30s SP 6-4 fav

OPEN MAIDEN DIV 1

1 Northern Sensation (Leslie Jefford)
2 But Not Quite (Philip Scholfield)
3 Wadebridge Fair (Charles Crosthwaite)
10 ran; 1l; 3l; 6m 42s SP 4-1

OPEN MAIDEN DIV 2

1 Gypsy Luck (Joanne Cumings)
2 Good Appeal (Linda Blackford)
3 St Morwenna (Joe Creighton)
10 ran; 6l; 4l; 6m 43s SP 9-2

The Vauterhill course is adjacent to Graham Heal’s Vauterhill Stud, with scenic views across the North Devon countryside. It is worth the winding journey round country lanes. The course is right handed with a short run in, slightly undulating, and on the turn for much of the way. Viewing is best on the inside of the course.

It was a low key start to the first meeting there, with four runners in the opening Hunt race and a match in the Open. The Hunt race winner Tranquil Waters (Gerald Penfold) had been a decent horse in his younger days and enjoyed a brief revival for owner Carol Lawrence in 1995. This race was pretty dire, but earlier in the season he had landed a gamble in a 17-runner Confined at Kilworthy with Gerald Penfold in the saddle.

Olveston beat his sole opponent easily to win the Open ridden by veteran George Turner from his daughter Pauline Geering’s yard. Olveston had been in one of the regular batches sourced from New Zealand by David Barons and had started life in England with an unbeaten hat trick in bumpers before several successes over jumps. He won three Opens for Pauline Geering in 1995. George rode winners until he was nearly 60 and continued to be seen at the races until, sadly, he passed away last year

Khattaf was undoubtedly the star of the day. Trained by Keith Cumings, he was in the veteran stage now and had to be ridden out by Jo Cumings to beat the useful Searcy (Linda Blackford) . I vividly remember Khattaf as a five-year-old striding clear down the hill at Nedge to win his first point-to-point impressively when ridden by Rosemary Vickery. He was a top class Ladies’ pointer and won a total of 26 point-to-points, mostly under Jo Cumings, who also won a clutch of races in the early 1990’s with the mare Flame O’ Frensi from her father’s Bishops Nympton yard.

Khataaf
Khataaf

So that was three odds-on certainties in the bag and it seemed a very nice course…..Walkers Point and George Turner looked the ticket in the Confined, but my betting note book still shows a red mark for this race as Horwood Ghost zoomed round to score unchallenged. The almost white gelding was partnered by Ron Treloggen in the familiar colours of Andrew Congdon.

Magnolia Man was in his second season and won the Restricted well under that fine rider Neil Harris. Trained by Debbie Cole, he kept his form well and won the Land Rover Champion hunter chase two years later.

Despite the fast ground the Open Maiden was divided. My memory of the first division is jockey Claire Wright being injured in a fall at the fence in front of the enclosures. The race was won by Northern Sensation, well ridden by Leslie Jefford, destined to become National champion jockey five years later.

Jo Cumings completed a double when Grant Cann’s lightly raced mare Gypsy Luck won the other division, mastering Linda Blackford’s mount Good Appeal in the closing stages.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  • Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers, various years
  • Horse & Hound Year Book, various years
  • The Pointer
  • The Continuing Story of Point-to-Point Racing, Michael Williams
  • Mr Michael Kutapan, Point-to-Point History & Research, Jumping For Fun
  • West Country Videos – Jeff Guyett