Category Archives: Interview

Robbie Henderson retires

Published on, 8th June 2015

Photo credit: Helen Stoneman
Photo credit: Helen Stoneman

Robbie Henderson, one of the most successful riders of the past few years, has decided to hang up his boots at the ripe old age of 25. “I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks,” he admitted, “and I wanted to go out on my terms, and while I felt I was the best that I could be. I didn’t want to be regressive. And Bratton Down is my favourite course, so it was the ideal place to finish.”

With a full-time job as an Insurance Broker, Robbie was finding it increasingly difficult to ride out during the week, and felt that he needed to be realistic and to focus on his career.

His success on Sahara Legend at Ashorne in 2005 was the first of his 98 winners between the flags, and he has won both the Wessex and the Devon & Cornwall area championships. Perhaps his proudest achievement in that sphere, though, was not just finishing runner-up to Will Biddick for the 2013/14 national title but the fact that nobody else, in the latter’s four years of supremacy, has managed to get any closer to him!

Robbie has also recorded 14 victories under Rules, with the highlight being his triumph on Ellerslie George, owned by his father Guy, in the 2009 Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton. “It was early in my career and I didn’t appreciate it as much as I would now,” he confessed, and he paid tribute to the winner’s trainer Nick Mitchell. “I started with him and he helped me so much,” he emphasised. “If you’d told me when I started that I’d ride 100 winners I wouldn’t have believed it,” he continued. “I was so bad to begin with, and fell off everything!”

He names as “very special” the winners which were trained at home by his father, while many of his successes were for Ed and Polly [Gundry] Walker, with whose syndicate of owners, the Otter Partnership, “I had some really good times,” and Richard and Kayley Woollacott.

Although Point-to-Pointing will undoubtedly leave a hole in his life, he stressed that he is retiring with no regrets and some wonderful memories.

And one imminent happening to which he is looking forward is the final meeting of the current campaign. “I’ll be able to enjoy the party at Umberleigh without worrying about riding!

Feature: Robert Chanin

Point-to-Point racehorse trainer Robert Chanin was awarded the Western Morning News Trophy for Performance of the season at Devon & Cornwall Point to Point Association Awards Dinner and Dance, writes Donna Harris.

In his best ever season, Chanin, whose training yard is at Thorverton in Mid Devon, also enjoyed an impressive seven consecutive winners from eight runners between Wadebridge and Chipley Park.

The purple patch started with a double at Wadebridge with Welstonedruid and Byerley Bear in December, and continued at the next Wadebridge meeting, with Byerley Bear, followed by a treble at Black Forest Lodge in January – courtesy of Welstonedruid, under jockey and son Ian Chanin, Byerley Bear ridden by Leanda Tickle, and  Ned White, piloted by eldest son Tom.

Chanin’s next winner came was For The Staff at Chipley Park, Tiverton, but the run ended when Five Journeys pulled up at the same meeting. He went on to saddle 18 winners through the season, earning him equal fourth in the National trainers’ table and second in the area table, just three behind Ed Walker.

Speaking from his home, where he farms 100 acres between Thorverton and Bickleigh, having just harvested a good crop of hay before the weather changed, Chanin said: “I am highly pleased with the award, it is the first thing that I have ever won personally. I was very disappointed I could not make the Awards presentation to pick the trophy up.”

He added: “It is a team effort, Tom, Jade, Ian and Aimée, and I could not manage without the hard work of my wife Maureen, who does all the administration, entries, bills and accounts, and Rebecca Barnett who is our farrier and Ian’s fiancé. It was our best season ever.”

Asked what his secrets of training are, he replied: “Plenty of hard work by the team and the horses. We are lucky to have the hills through the Exe Valley where we do most of the training.”

Byerley Bear was crowned Leading Area Horse, and also won a dual control Aga for the points he earned in the ladies’ series sponsored by Aga, for his owner Roger Knowles. Chanin added:  “He has become something of a celebrity in our village. Mr Knowles donated 10 per cent of the horse’s winnings to help the locally-run village shop.”

“We are looking forward to the new season, which starts in November, and have agents looking for three new horses to join the yard. Tom and Ian will look through the form and bloodlines of horses offered to us before we take them on.”

Go Pointing Questions & Answers with Will Biddick


Bookmaker Roger King

Roger King Bookmaker
Roger King Bookmaker

A familiar sight on the Point-to-Point course, amongst the row of bookmakers is Roger King. Celebrating his 86th birthday this week, Roger has been a bookie for 55 years.

Ably assisted by his two sons, Peter and Keith, their job entails travelling far and wide, as well as Point-to-Point courses, they also have pitches at the Goodwood, Ascot, Wincanton, Newton Abbot and Exeter courses.

Roger is currently secretary and treasurer of Devon & Cornwall Bookmakers Association.

When asked how he came into being a bookmaker, Roger replied “I was a professional footballer, having played for Notts County and Exeter City. Then when I retired, I worked in a betting shop for David Pipe, who was Martin’s father and David’s grandfather.”

Roger had a glint in his eye, as he was reminiscing about his past, he carried on saying “An opportunity came up to buy the Bookmaker pitch from Calway Jones, who wanted to emigrate to Canada, and that got me started.”

When asked if he had ever race ridden, or owned a racehorse, Roger replied “No, I once rode a shire horse and fell off!”

Roger concluded that the best thing about his job is “watching people enjoying themselves, good banter, being courteous and they will come back, and praise them when they back a winner.”

He claimed that the biggest bet he had ever taken on a Point-to-Point race was 600/400 to get a thousand pounds. “It didn’t win” Roger added.

Point-to-Point courses are full of characters like Roger, who turn out whatever the weather, be it rain, snow or gale force winds, and all help create the atmosphere of the day.


Pointer Magazine 2014
Pointer Magazine 2014

The ‘Pointer’ magazing is now available to view online by clicking here. If you would like a hard copy please email the PPA – with your postal address and a copy will be sent to you.



2012-13 Devon and Cornwall men’s champion jockey: Josh Guerriero

Josh Guerriero
Josh Guerriero – Photo provided by TurfPix – Tracy Roberts

Josh Guerriero, the current Devon and Cornwall men’s champion jockey, had 32 second places last season, and would love to turn those into winners so he can have a taste of national glory.

He is currently working as assistant to Dan Skelton at Skelton’s state-of-the-art training facility in Warwickshire, having previously worked for Victor Dartnell and spent four and a half years with Philip Hobbs.

Amazingly he has no family background in racing and it was just a random meeting with a neighbour when he was 14 that got him riding horses. Josh said: “He had horses and I asked if he needed a hand with anything and hey presto, that was that!”

Asked about that first race ride he said: “I can’t really remember much about my first ride but it felt very fast and luckily it won! Somehow my first three rides were winners, which was surreal and, looking back, I didn’t really appreciate it.”

There are a few prolific winners he has great affection for but his favourite is Christie Beamish, on which he won the Aintree Foxhunters.;

Josh, who is sponsored by James Pryce Tractors, keeps fit by riding out and race riding keeps him fit.

His advice to anyone just starting out is: “I don’t take it too seriously, think of it as schooling and don’t think about the race too much, just enjoy it. To anyone who rides, but in another discipline, was thinking about having a go race riding I would say ‘give it a go, it’s great fun’.”

As to his ambitions for the future? “I would love to be national champion, even just once!”

Josh Guerriero

You saved my life

Article supplied by the Devon Air Ambulance Trust
Devon Air Ambulance
The New Devon Air Ambulance on it launch tour outside Exeter Catherdral

Jessica Westwood,  21, runs a successful business training racing horses at her yard in Exford, near Minehead.  Until March last year, however, Jessica was an amateur jockey and on target to carve a career as a race rider.

A serious accident in 2007 had almost put paid to Jessica’s dreams, when she was kicked as she fell from her horse and suffered swelling on the brain and a perforated eardrum, which affected both her sight and her balance.  After many frustrating months, however, Jess made an amazing recovery and was well and truly ‘back in the saddle’, enjoying both riding and training.

By March last year, Jess was aiming for a top six place at the annual Foxhunter Chase in Cheltenham, the amateur equivalent of the well-known Gold Cup, riding her 9-year old gelding, Monkerty Tunkerty.  Jessica was relaxed about the race; she knew that Monkerty Tunkerty was on top form, having been owned and trained by Jess over the previous two years, and Jessica was unfazed by such illustrious competition as racing against horses owned by the Queen and J P McManus.

However, Jess’s dreams came tumbling down when she suffered a fall the Quantock Staghounds point-to-point meeting at Cothelstone in March 2012.  Another head injury left the young rider with severe concussion, nauseous and exhausted with her  standing and walking affected.  Jessica was flown, unconscious, by Devon Air Ambulance,  to Musgrove Park Hospital.  Jessica has no memory of the accident, nor several days following and visits from worried family and friends went unnoticed.  After five days, Jessica came round and started the long road to recovery.  A further twelve days later, Jess started to walk again and was subsequently discharged from hospital.  She felt far from ‘back to normal’ however, and, following further tests, it was realised that as well as her head  injury, she also had two slipped discs at the top of her neck which had severely affected the left side of her body, leaving her with lack of balance and co-ordination and limited movement.   Even her speech was affected as Jess was speaking using mainly the left side of her mouth.

Thanks to family friends who have an orthopaedic clinic, Jess found herself in Germany for a month, firstly undergoing more scans and x-rays, which revealed the two slipped discs, and then weeks of intense treatment, including massage therapy, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, neuropsychology, hand and finger therapy and computer reaction training.

As she gradually overcame all the physical issues, Jess also had to come to terms with the fact that, following two such serious head injuries, she would never get her riding licence back.  Determined not to give up her equestrian life, however, Jess vowed to continue her other love; that of training race horses.

Demonstrating the same dedication and enthusiasm to her training as she had to her riding, Jess was soon reaping the rewards and, on Boxing Day, she saw her horse, Monkerty Tunkerty, win at Wincanton.  Her horse also won at Doncaster and, despite being the youngest trainer there, she watched with excitement as Monkerty Tunkerty came in 7th out of 24 at this year’s prestigious Cheltenham Festival.

Jess explained, “So much has happened in this last year.  From feeling at absolute rock bottom after the accident, to the absolute elation at the Cheltenham Festival just one year later.  I am aiming to get my full training licence this summer and hope that other people will then send me their horses to train.  I can’t thank everyone enough for the support they have shown and I will continue to raise funds for Devon Air Ambulance Trust whenever I can.”

Continue reading You saved my life

Post Race AGA Ladies race interview with Lizzie Kelly

Post Race interview with Lizzie Kelly following her win on RIO GAEL in the last AGA Ladies race of the season at Upcott Cross on the 27th May 2013, before the series final at Stratford.

Shared from the AGA Point-to-Point Racing YouTube Channel