Famous Clermont, ridden by Will Biddick, cruises to victory in the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate at the Modbury Harriers point-to-point meeting on Sunday, January 16


“Ghosts of men that here have ridden
Gather at the post unbidden,
Waiting till the old flag falls;
Hear the rattled guard-rails quiver
As they rush them, game as ever!”

From the poem Aintree Calls by William Henry Ogilvie, 1869 – 1963

The old decaying grandstand still looks out forlornly over Buckfastleigh racecourse, now unused and camouflaged by vegetation, but a proud sentinel of days gone by.

A double for Will Biddick and a first winner over jumps for Freddie Gingell were two of the highlights of the card at the first of three meetings scheduled for Buckfastleigh this season.

15mm of overnight rain meant the going had become heavy, soft in places, but a dry afternoon brought out a massive crowd at this historic Devon venue.

Biddick’s double was initiated when the well fancied Jeremy Central stayed on strongly to beat 15 rivals in the Maiden for seven-year-olds and over sponsored by Toad Hall Cottages. “Jumping out of the ground was hard,” remarked the leading rider of this well made gelding, who had recent good placed efforts in Ireland to his name. Taunton bloodstock agent owner/trainer Tom Malone described his seven-year-old as, “ A lovely honest staying chaser in the making,” confiding that he had this race in mind when buying the gelding by Jeremy at an online auction recently. Bloodstock agents don’t buy horses to look at so Jeremy Central is sure to progress and is likely to find a new home soon.

After fracturing his ankle in a fall last May, Will Biddick is already making a strong bid to secure his eighth National jockeys title, and rounded of a good day by riding his 13th winner of the season on Famous Clermont in the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate. Despite carrying a 5lbs penalty this progressive seven-year-old won on the bit under a typically stylish Biddick ride. Christopher Barber trains the winner at Seaborough  for a small syndicate and remarked, “We bought him as a four-year-old at Goffs for only £5,000 and the plan is to go for an Intermediate final at either Exeter or Cheltenham.” The young trainer has plenty of ammunition waiting in the wings with a number of youngsters amongst the 20 strong inmates in his Dorset yard.

There were tears and smiles in a packed winner’s enclosure after Freddie Gingell had steered Molineaux home in the Jockey Club & Retraining of Racehorses Veteran Horse Conditions event. Freddie tragically lost his mother Kim, daughter of Colin Tizzard, to cancer in May 2020.  It was apt that Colin and Freddie’s father Dave were on hand to enjoy a rapturous reception as the young rider returned in the family colours after a stylish performance on his first point-to-point winner.  A prolific winning pony race rider with 56 wins, including at this track,  Freddie said, “I finish school in May. Molineaux is a really nice horse and I was proud to be sat on him”.  Colin, who had legged up his grandson, had trained the 11-year-old to his four wins under rules for John and Heather Snook and remarked, “This is a lovely horse. He is fast and accurate and the ideal schoolmaster. He could run every two weeks until he gets tired.”

Last season’s champion novice rider Ben Sutton, based with the Alan Hill yard,   partnered his second winner this season as Chameron strode clear on the run in to win the Totnes & Bridgetown Mixed Open. The Sam Loxton trained nine-year-old faced only three opponents with Hazzaar and Danseur Du Large chasing him home. The 22-yearold rider confessed that he had lost an iron at the last fence, which was fully three furlongs from the finish at the top of the hill, as the normal final fence in the straight was omitted.  Chameron runs in the colours of the jockey’s father, Nick, who was travelling abroad. Bruton trainer Sam Loxton has six horses in training and rides out Chameron, who could go hunter chasing in due course.

Darren Andrews rode his 50th point-to-point winner on five-year-old His Own Star, backed from 5’s into 7-2 ,in the two and a half miles Tony Glynn Scaffolding Open Maiden for four to six-year-olds. Andrews was content to follow the pace set by the favourite Next One Please and Summerleaze until hitting the front approaching the last. The winner had seven runs as a four-year-old in France in 2021 and was placed five times for David Cottin. His dam won a listed hurdle at Auteuil. He is one of eight pointers now in the care of Stuart Sampson, and runs in the colours of Uffculme owner Ron Alford who was enjoying his first winner. The trainer described his charge as, “ A kind, honest individual but is no great work horse at home.”

The successful jockey was denied a double as his mount Fountains Chief fell at the last when holding a narrow lead in the Stanley Carpets Restricted.  Stevan Steel was the only other horse of the six starters standing and was issuing a strong challenge at the time. Course winner Stevan Steel is trained at Bampton by Janet Ackner, who also owns the striking grey in conjunction with John Spall. “If only every horse was as genuine as he is. He has five gears but thinks he has six.” said the trainer. Successful jockey Darren Edwards reflected on, “ A strong stayer, honest and jumped well on today’s ground.”

Granville Taylor
Granville Taylor

Devon & Cornwall Point-To-Point Press Officer and PtPRC Race Reader

Cover Photo Credit: Athwenna Irons/WMN