WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR
“Days of absence, sad and dreary, clothed in sorrow’s dark array. Days of absence, I am weary….”Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778
Steady on J-J. I know we haven’t had any point to points since December last year but stop moaning and cheer up. We are racing again now and the crowds will soon return.
After that unwelcome gap of 17 weeks, point-to-point racing resumed in the Devon & Cornwall area in bright sunshine at Cherrybrook on Easter Saturday. Not that the weather mattered that much because COVID regulations again dictated that the action took place behind closed doors. The innovation of live streaming has however proved very successful and viewing of all 8 races was available to would-be spectators at home.
Static Jack found a remarkable turn of foot after jumping the last in third place to snatch the Totnes and Bridgetown Races Company Men’s Open. Game front runner River Myth (Darren Andrews) looked to be holding the favourite Honest Deed (Darren Edwards,) until Michael Treneer swooped on his mother’s 10-year-old to hit the front near the line.
The 20-year-old Devon rider, in his final year at the Royal Agricultural University at Cirencester, was partnering his second career winner. “My previous winner was at Flete Park in 2019,” said the young jockey, wearing the colours of his mother Deborah. “We bought Static Jack out of the ring at Goff’s sales last October,” he explained. Previously with Gavin Cromwell in Ireland, Static Jack had dropped down the ratings after his last success at Killarney nearly two years ago and could prove a shrewd buy.
Apple’s Queen (Natalie Parker) just got the better of Chosen Lucky and Dry Ol’ Party in a blanket finish to the Totnes and Bridgetown Ladies’ Conditions race. This popular grey had disappointed in two runs under rules this year, but had won at Larkhill earlier this season and was scoring his eighth point-to-point success here. His trainer Sally Alner related the gelding’s unusual penchant for custard cream biscuits. “I was having a cup of coffee one day and he came and snatched a biscuit out of my hands, so he now has them every day. He’s very loveable.”
King’s Quay landed the Condy Mathias Maiden to initiate a double for jockey Matt Hampton, who also trains the six-year-old for owner Laura Claydon. King’s Quay faced 14 opponents but was well in command from the second last, with the well backed Oscara and Arctic Milly filling the places. The winner is a Yeats gelding, bought as a store at Goffs, and was having only his third ever race. “He has been unlucky so far (ran out and brought down) and we have been very patient with him.” said the rider.
The mare Where’s Wilma completed Matt Hampton’s riding double in the Print Concern NHS Restricted, running on strongly to see off the challenges of Arcal Fifty, who clouted the last, and Funky Sensation. The bold jumping winner is one of only two pointers trained by Michael Watson near Tiverton for a small syndicate called the Not So Innocent Partnership. Despite looking a picture in the paddock the trainer reported that, “She has only schooled twice this year but is really gutsy.”
Our Grey Boy was always to the fore in the Dartmoor Community Maiden which was supported by joint sponsors Dartmoor Ice Cream, Dartmoor Hill Pony Association, Wild Dartmoor Pony Meat and Amos Cole Fencing. Our Grey Boy took command at the second last to give jockey Josh Cameron his third career winner at the expense of Mad For Action (Abigail Lewis) and Da Vinci Rock (first ride for Will Knight). “We have 12 point-to-pointers in our yard at Frome and it’s great to see Our Grey Boy getting a deserved win. Josh is my partner and we do a lot of the work between us,” explained trainer Annabelle Bacon.
Crown of Thorns defied a 6lbs penalty to take the Devon Hampers Owner/Trainer Conditions race to give Will Biddick his 8th winner of the season. This likeable gelding won four times in the 2019 season but drew a blank three times in a higher grade in last season’s curtailed campaign. The seven times National champion jockey had his mount in pole position throughout and held on well as The Dapper Fox came with a late run. Sarah Pidsley trains the winner for her parents at Payhembury near Honiton and did well to produce the rangy gelding fit to win here. “I just kept him ticking along,” she said modestly.
The Roestone repeated his course victory of two years ago in the Penbode Vets sponsored Intermediate. Ridden by Martin “Fly” McIntyre, the Vinnie Roe seven-year-old dropped well behind in the first mile, but came home strongly to catch Bridge of Spies. Asked if it was the plan to hold him up the rider, who works for David Pipe said, “No, he was flat out and couldn’t go the pace early but he warmed up gradually.”
The Roestone is trained by Robert Chanin for owners Andrew and Sue Knox, and Ian Chanin equalled his father’s feat by saddling Skylander to win the concluding Tyre Marks of Tavistock Members’ race under Robert Hawker.
Despite failing to visit the winner’s enclosure for three years, Skylander, a good winner in his younger days, has recently been an excellent schoolmaster ride for his owner Anna Hylands. On this occasion Anna had the mount on her other horse Alice’s Star who finished unplaced. Rob Hawker sent Skylander to the front at the penultimate and saw off the challenge of Talk of the South (Isaac Buncle) on the short run in.
Photos: Athwenna Irons / WMN