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A report on a past Point-To-Point meeting in the Devon & Cornwall area

GRANVILLE’S BETTING GOSSIP – CORNWALL CLUB AT WADEBRIDGE ON 6TH DEC 2020

After a nine months gap from betting gossip due to you know what, I am pleased to offer readers (if they are still there) some snippets from the point-to-point betting ring at Wadebridge.

I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the Cornwall Club meeting on press duties, but It was a bit like working in a ghost town “behind closed doors”.

At least we got some very good point-to-point action. It was also pleasing to battle with the layers again, although I could have done with socially distancing my wallet from them.

Full marks anyway to Dave Philips, Rich Pittard and G & T Williams for standing at the showground. Dave and Rich operated in the green zone and Tony Williams was the lone ranger in the amber zone. The zones were strictly enforced with no transit between them. The bookies on -course business was boosted by a telephone betting service for punters watching the live streaming in their armchairs at home. I am told that the live streaming was excellent.

Some of the contests on Sunday resembled a three card trick for punters. Sir Mangan was the form pick in the opener and was backed from evens to 4-6. Like most good things he finished second. The winner Raddon Top (4-1) is no mug and got a good ride from Conor Houlihan. Guerrilla Tactics was supported from 5-1 into 4’s but lost rider Finn Muirhead at the third fence.

The other division for Veteran and Novice riders attracted 14 runners. There was money for Tom Malone’s Thelastbutone(4’ to 5-2) and Chosen Lucky (5-4 fav), but they could only fill the places behind Carmarthenshire raider Coquin Mans (6-1) who dominated this field. On reflection he could have given all his opponents at least two stones on his Irish form for Willie Mullins as a young horse. He had a BHA  rating of 158 at his best.

The three Open Maiden divisions took some sorting out. In the first section I ruled out Eros (5-4 fav) because he had pulled too hard at Ottery. He ran well to finish third here however and should atone. Another for the note book is four-year-old debutant Imperial Joe (6’s to 4’s) who stayed on nicely up the hill. The winner Old Town Garde  (5-1)  is another four-year-old from a good yard and looks to have a future.

There was a remarkable plunge on the mare The Kitchenmechanic  from 10’s in one place to as low as 5-2 at flag fall in the second division. She finished seventh. The winner Rossderrin (6-1) is nicely bred but arrived with a modest CV.  He turned in a workmanlike performance and should win again. Feu Des Malberaux (7’s to 5’s) chased the winner home and is improving steadily. 

Five-year-old Tip Top Mountain (4’s to 3’s) made all the running to win the other division easily under a positive ride from Rob Hawker. He looks the part and fetched £30,000 a few days later when offered at the Cheltenham sales (confusingly held at Newmarket). Word had obviously got out about Ed Walker’s four-year-old Charles Ritz because this Milan gelding was always tight at evens. He wasn’t unduly knocked about by the champion to finish ten lengths second best, but is no Santini. There is a race to be won by Reflex Action (6-s to 5-2) but he will need to jump better.

There was little or no value for punters in the Ladies’ race. I thought that Different Gravey (6-4 to 5-4) would win despite a long absence but he never looked like getting to grips with Back Bar who traded from 6-4 to evens.  Back Bar is a lot more consistent in points than he was under rules.

Navanman was virtually unbackable at level weights in thefive-runner Men’s Open with 1-3 called early. He was sent off at 1-2. There was good money for Welshman Dr Des (5-2 to 7-4) but he jumped sloppily and managed to knock the rider off Beneficial Joe (25-1) at the sixth with a violent leap to his right. The Dapper Fox (16’s to 14’s) ran very well when ridden closer to the pace than normal to finish second, but there was no stopping the consistent Honest Deed (5-1) who sailed clear under Darren Edwards down the hill.

Getting Closer (6-4 fav) just snatched the Intermediate in a six horse blanket finish to give Izzie Marshall a double., denying Waterloo Warrior(3-1) by a short head. The latter was only sixth jumping the last. Missyladie (100-6) was in front 50 yards out before being edged out to finish third. ClondawBunny (12-1) caught the eye under his novice rider and is worth bearing in mind. 

Only two of the eight favourites had obliged so far and it was the same story in the getting out stakes. This time Starsky (5’s to 7-4) was the culprit. Like most each way certainties he finished fourth. The winner Hotel du Nord (3’s to 2’s) gave Charlie Sprake his first jumps winner. Runner up Schiap Hill (7-2) looks nailed on for a Restricted.

Photo credit: Athwenna Irons / WMN

REPORT – CORNWALL CLUB POINT-POINT-TO-POINT 6TH DECEMBER

WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR

“For the loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a changing”……lyrics from the song The times they are a changing by song writer and singer Bob Dylan

Yes, it does seem that the times we live in are definitely changing Mr Dylan. Well illustrated by the fact that no crowds were allowed into the course to see one of the best point-to-points ever staged in the 35 years of racing at the Royal Cornwall Showground course at Wadebridge.

This was because the Cornwall Club pre-Christmas point-to-point had to take place “behind closed doors” due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions.

Apart from participants, officials, press, the live streaming team, and three bookmakers, only owners of runners were allowed to watch the action at a gloriously sunny  Royal Cornwall Showground on Sunday. It was a pity that the normally enthusiastic crowd of spectators could not attend, especially as the competitive nine-race card attracted a healthy total of 97 runners, a record for the Wadebridge track. 

Top jockey Darren Edwards landed the Men’s Open with an enterprising ride on the useful Honest Deed. This Dean Summersby trained 11-year-old has a liking for the showground and stayed on strongly to beat The Dapper Fox and Dr Des. “He is nimble round the corners here and although it wasn’t the plan I had no choice but to go on down the hill,” reported the rider.

The popular Navanman started odds-on favourite here, but could only finish fourth on one of his rare off days. Will Biddick had the mount on Navanman, but gained some consolation for a blank day in the saddle by later sending out Hotel Du Nord to win the Restricted under novice rider Charlie Sprake. This young rider, just short of his 18th birthday, works in Biddick’s yard, and was partnering his first point-to-point winner after much success in the pony racing sphere. 

It was a good day for Will Biddick’s academy of young riders, since another prodigy, Conor Houlihan, steered Sue Trump’s Raddon Top home to take the opening Conditions race for novice and veteran riders. This was the tall young jockey’s sixth career winner.  The Houlihan name is well known thanks to the National Hunt successes of brothers Sean and Niall. Leslie Jefford  trains Raddon Top at Payhembury and said, “He is a progressive seven-year-old who acts very well here and will keep finding.”

Izzie Marshall is yet another promising rider on the point-to –point circuit and went home with a double thanks to Back Bar and Getting Closer, each saddled by Alan Hill.

The Essex and Suffolk qualified Back Bar took the Ladies’ Open in good style with the rider reporting, “He is a big horse who keeps galloping and handled the tight bends really well. He is a good jumper and showed a massive turn of foot near the end. The course is brilliant.”

Getting Closer justified favouritism to win the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate in a blanket finish with the first six horses separated by less than two lengths. The runner up Waterloo Warrior was only sixth jumping the last. It was a judge’s nightmare with the group of six in front charging up the hill spread right across the track. It reminded me of the finish of the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket.  Video evidence showed that the correct result had been called and a relieved Izzie Marshall claimed the spoils. Trainer Alan Hill said, “This horse belongs to a small syndicate mainly farmers in the Suffolk area. It would be nice to aim him at the Exeter final .”

Ian Chanin had given up his riding career to train and the Thorverton based handler was also rewarded with a double care of Rossderrin and Tip Top Mountain in their respective divisions of the Open Maiden.

Five-year-old Rossderrin was purchased out of Ireland by Kayley Woollacott and Josh Newman a few weeks ago. “Kayley’s yard was full so she sent him to me to train,” remarked Ian Chanin. Josh Newman conjured a strong finish out of Rossderrin, who just held off the challenge of Feu Des Malberaux. “He got me out of trouble at the ditch first time. He will stay pointing but is for sale. Ian Chanin has done a good job with him” said the rider.

Chanin’s training double was completed when Tip Top Mountain spread eagled the field of 10 to win his section of the Maiden by 10 lengths. The five-year-old made every yard of the running and won unchallenged. “He was bought as a store in Ireland and ran well recently at Ottery when he was a good fourth after hitting four out,” reported the trainer, who thinks that his next appearance is likely to be in the sales ring.

The other division of the three- way divided Maiden went to the previously unraced Old Town Garde from Chloe Roddick’s yard. Jumping into the lead four out, Old Town Garde showed plenty of resolution to hold off Imperial Joe and Eros. Successful jockey Angus Cheleda, who works for Paul Nicholls and is enjoying a good spell in the saddle, said of the four-year-old, “He jumped brilliantly and quickened up nicely.” Welsh raider Coquin Mans left his Carmarthen stable at four o’clock in the morning for an almost five hours trip to Cornwall.  Nevertheless he was able to put his 13 opponents in their place with a gutsy performance in his section of the Conditions race.  The eight-year-old was a prolific winner in his younger days for top Irish trainer Willie Mullins, and has recently found his way to the South Wales yard of Bobby Thomas who took the mount himself here. The combination made most of the running and shrugged off the sustained challenge of Chosen Lucky  (Charlotte Summersby) up the finishing climb. “I tried to get him to settle but it was no use,” said the jockey, adding, “He kept jumping and hanging right but he has quite an engine. We call him Coco in the yard”.

REPORT OF THE EAST DEVON POINT-TO-POINT AT BISHOPS COURT, OTTERY ST MARY on 24th OCTOBER 2020

WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR

“Well, they are gone, and here I must remain”  

From a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: 1772 – 1834: English poet who lived at Ottery St Mary. This famous resident had also gone long before Mr Oliver Carter opened the racecourse in 1979.

In fact, most people had “gone” as the new British point-to-point season got under way last Saturday (24 Oct) at Ottery St Mary under strict protocol due to COVID-19 stipulations. In the earliest ever start to a British season, the East Devon race meeting had to take place behind closed doors.  Only essential personnel were allowed in. (luckily including me)

 Photo: Athwenna Irons / WMN

On a thoroughly wet, blustery day, seven times National champion jockey Will Biddick took the honours with a treble. “My best ever start to a season” said the Truro born rider.

Art Mauresque set the ball rolling under a copybook Biddick ride in the opening Hunt race. The Tom Malone trained gelding eased into the lead in the home straight to hold Raddon Top who was one of a trio of Leslie Jefford trained runners in the race. One of the other Jefford runners, Ryves Rocky finished a creditable third giving a memorable first race ride to Kirsty O’Dell.


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Art Mauresque (nearside), ridden by Will Biddick, on his way to winning | Photo: Athwenna Irons / WMN

Biddick teamed up with the David Maxwell owned Jalatuwih to take the Men’s Open after a spirited duel with Navanman (Darren Edwards). The pair had the race to themselves in the closing stages. Biddick’s mount proved the stronger on the run to the judge, looking like a top class hunter chase prospect. Trainer Beth Childs reported, “He came from Philip Hobbs to run in point-to-points.” He was described by his jockey as, “A classy horse under rules and the aim is to go to the Foxhunter at Cheltenham. He travelled strong. I gave him a click and he moved on”


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Race winner Jatiluwih, ridden by Will Biddick, winning decisively | Photo: Athwenna Irons / WMN

Taunton bloodstock agent Tom Malone provided Will Biddick with his treble when saddling Starsky to win the second section of the Maiden for six-year-olds and over. This time the leading rider limped into the parade ring having been kicked about like a football by most of the field after falling from A Tipple or Two at half way in the previous race.

 The trainer, who also owns Starsky said,” I originally bought him as a store. He was at Ditcheat for a while, then the owners wanted him moved on so I took him back. He is still a maiden under rules so we have that option, but plan to keep him pointing for a while. In typical bloodstock agent fashion Malone added of the six-year-old Shantou gelding, “He is for sale.”.

 The earlier division of this race also went to another ex-inmate of the Paul Nicholls Ditcheat yard when the six-year-old Grey Getaway came clear after Takeabid had fallen at the last jump.  Matt Hampton, who now trains and rides the South Dorset qualified gelding for a small partnership said. “He is a nice horse. We picked him up in February as he had lost his way a bit under rules. It is nice to get his head in front and get a bit of confidence back,”  The well bred six-year-old still has a long way to go to pay off the £190,000 he cost previous connections as a four-year-old.

The easiest winner of the day came in the Ladies’ Open when the useful ex-chaser Red Indian travelled from his Leicestershire base to stroll home by a distance unchallenged under Alice Stevens. The winner was in command from a long way out in the colours of Sir Johny Weatherby, and looks set for a successful campaign. The jockey enthused, “He was delightful to ride and I had a great time.”


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Race winner Red Indian, ridden by Alice Stevens, flies the last to win for trainer Mimi Eggleston | Athwenna Irons / WMN

The Tattersalls Cheltenham sponsored Maiden for four and five-year-olds attracted a quality field of 13 mostly unraced horses. Four-year-old debutant Kyntara came out on top, pulling clear of his rivals under Alex Edwards after the second last to score by four lengths from Great Colewood and Feu Des Malberaux. A good topped youngster by Kayf Tara, the winner was sent out by Shropshire based Mel Rowley, a likely harbinger of many more successes for the yard this season. The promising gelding is out of a winning hurdler from a good jumping family. Kyntara cost £30,000 as a three-year-old, from the Tattersalls Ireland Derby sales.  

Tattersalls Cheltenham’s Shirley Anderson-Jolag

 There was drama at the last fence in the NHS Print Concern Restricted when the strong challenging Papal Present fell, bringing down Prove Me Wrong. This left Ryan’s Fancy in command , and the ex-Irish pointer was not hard  pressed to hold the giant sized Schiap Hill.  The winner was ridden by Immy Robinson, whose mother Caroline made history by riding Eliogarty to win both the Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunters’ in the 1980’s under her maiden name of Caroline Beasley. She remarked, “We bought him at Doncaster sales, he had won a point-to-point, wasn’t a big price and is by Getaway.”  Immy modestly added, “He did it all. I just held on to him as long as I could.”  

The seven-year-old winning hurdler Sparkleandshine lived up to his name with a 20 lengths success over the Hobbs runner Rolling Dylan in the PPORA Club Members’. Tommie O’Brien steered home the winner who cost only £3,000 at Ascot last December. “It was probably best that he couldn’t run for a while and put on condition during COVID”, said trainer Alan Hill.

Simon Nott’s video review of the East Devon meeting and the betting ring which their innovative remote betting

The East Devon organisers deserve much praise for their considerable efforts to put this fixture on. It was also the first of the 25 scheduled meetings in Devon and Cornwall to be live streamed this season.  

The PPA advise that the Covid-19 situation and how Point-To-Points respond to it will be changing continusly this season and advise everyone monitors the national website www.pointtopoint.co.uk for the latest information and updates

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – TORRINGTON FARMERS

“The roar of the race-course died behind them, in front were their fates, they rode to find them….”

John Masefield, 1878 – 1967, poet laureate from 1930 – 1967

So that’s it then. A point-to-point season of two halves. It all started well in Devon & Cornwall with the opening of the new Dunsmore course on November 17th 2019. However after some exciting racing the final whistle was blown at Buckfastleigh in mid March, culminating in the loss of 15 area fixtures and of course the remainder of the British season.

This is the last of my personal reminiscences of days gone by, albeit presented as a rather tepid substitute for some of the lost meetings in the Devon & Cornwall area. The Torrington Farmers Hunt has traditionally brought down the curtain at their course at Chapelton Barton, Umberleigh for many years. My first visit to the course was in 1977 when the country was celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Here are my comments on one of the early Umberleigh meetings:-

10th June 1978 – Going Hard

HUNT

1 Black Ace (Andrew Congdon)
2 Courageous Kate (Penny Ogden)
3 High Brooks (A Milton)
3 ran; 2l; dist; 5m 18s SP 7-4

OPEN

1 Zingarella (Eddie Whettam)
2 Cefn Solomon (Paul Hamer)
3 Last Gesture (Richard Mann)
10 ran; 1/2l; 4l; 5m 4s SP 14-1

LADIES OPEN

1 Oakey Coakey (Jenny Hembrow)
2 Torrid (Miss A Allard)
3 Money Penny (Katie Halswell)
9 ran; neck; 2l; 5m 2s SP 5-4 fav

RESTRICTED OPEN

1 Lady Maxine (Ron Treloggen)
2 Petit Homme (Robert Alner)
3 Running Rose (R Hicks)
10 ran; 10l; dist; 5m 2s SP 6-4

ADJACENT HUNTS

1 Moorland Venture (Sue Reynard)
2 Mistic Code (Penny Ogden)
3 Zauditu (Martin Keenor)
3 ran; 8l; 1l; 5m 11s SP 4-5 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS MAIDEN

1 Kensal (Mike Williams)
2 Royal Bella (Stuart Kittow)
3 Golden Flyer (Jimmy Frost)
4 ran; 4l; 7l; 5m 14s SP 4-1

The Hunt race winner Black Ace improved steadily throughout the season. He ran on well here and survived a mistake at the last A tiny gelding by the Schweppes Gold Trophy winner Rosyth, Black Ace gave his owner / rider Andrew Congdon a lot of fun over the years. His daughter Jenny was to follow in his footsteps in this race in later years

Cefn Soloman, in the colours of popular Welsh owner Dilwyn Thomas, was all the rage for the Open after his recent solid effort in a Stratford hunter chase. He was out jumped at the last by the winner Zingarella and had to settle for the runner up spot despite rallying near the post. Eddie Whettam was a very good rider and his family owned mount Zingarella was a useful pointer who found the ground and short trip ideal.

Oakey Cokey owed his solitary win of the season in the Ladies’ to Jenny Hembrow’s jockeyship. Taunton based Jenny was one of the most stylish riders in those days and won this with a sharp race winning move on the blinkered gelding on the final circuit.

The grey mare Lady Maxine enjoyed a profitable season and was scoring for the third time in the Restricted under Ron Treloggen. As a brood mare in due course Lady Maxine produced another pointing winner called Maxine’s Lass. Runner up Petit Homme was a fair pointer in the same Newman colours which can still be seen today, but he was ill at ease on the hard ground.

The consistent mare Moorland Venture was odds on and made all for Sue Reynard in the Adjacents’ before Kensal (Mike Williams) upset the favourite Royal Bella in the Maiden after Misty Express had fallen three out. Kensal was owned by Maurice Maude, one of my press colleagues in those days, and of course the father of Chris Maude. I seem to recall that Maurice told me that Kensal was from the family of 1950 Grand National winner Freebooter, but the memory is less sharp than it was and Maurice passed on many years ago.

From a historical point of view, the Torrington Farmers raced at Cranford St Giles from 1950 until the final meeting there on 27th April 1960. Their 1961 fixture was lost due to foot and mouth disease, and the fixture moved to Horwood, near Bideford the next year, where a succession of late April evening meetings took place throughout the 1960’s. I would think that Horwood was the shortest point-to-point track in the country with times regularly under five minutes.

The 1970 meeting was held at Crimp, Morwenstone, but on 28th April 1971 the long association with Chapelton Barton, Umberleigh began with an evening meeting. Mike Trickey rode the first winner on Barber’s Piece and other successful riders on that night were Chris Popham, Carol Handel, Tony Hartnoll and Charles Micklem.

A significant event happened in 1975 when after a postponement from April 15th the meeting was re-arranged to become the final meeting of the season (on 7th June). At that meeting four times lady champion jockey Sue Aston rode a double on Perfidia and Golden Scot, beating seven pounds overweight Robert Waley-Cohen into second place in the Adjacent Restricted. Sue Aston was an exceptional talent, light years ahead of her time.

From that time in 1975 the Torrington Farmers has retained the June date, with end of season festivities becoming the norm. If I remember correctly, when I first went to Umberleigh the start was near the top of the steep hill on the far side and there was usually some arable ground. The race times in those days suggest that the course length was about two and a half miles. The midsummer date naturally brings variations in ground conditions, mainly very dry, but occasionally very soft. In later years the course has been aggravated when necessary to ease the going. To be honest, it is not the best viewing course and to get a fair view you have to move around the top of the hill, rather like at the old Tweseldown course. The atmosphere is however second to none and it makes you wish the season could go on.

It would take a book to describe the happenings in the past 49 years. Some of the random highlights include a ten-race card in 1983, the year when the course was lengthened to three miles, featuring wins for Cheekio Ora (ridden by four times champion Peter Greenall) and Frevolity (Janine Mills); a Gordon Edwards treble in 1984; a Polly Curling treble in 1993. The little gelding Tijuca gained five Hunt race wins up to 1993. You might be sure that I backed him on another occasion when he unseated with the race at his mercy.

A lot of horses came from far afield over the years to run at the finale and quite a few Umberleigh fixtures decided the National and Area jockeys’ awards. In 2002 Evan Williams took champion jockey status when his Open win on Bonny Boy was enough to take the title from Julian Pritchard by 38 to 37. I remember that year well because when we arrived at the local pub that night, the Rising Sun, the Welsh boys were still singing and had eaten all the food. We ended up with bags of crisps to accompany champagne. It rained all the way home.

I remember chatting in the changing tent with Peter Greenall on the day he retired, not knowing that his sons Oliver and Tom would pick up champion jockey titles in future years. They were all quite regular visitors to Umberleigh, followed in due course by Jake. Quite a family dynasty.
Polly Gundry, who won the Ladies’ title eight times, and the late Richard Woollacott, who won the Men’s title in 2010 were also successful at the course, but young Michael Heard stole the headlines with a treble in the first three races in 2011.

Recent champions Will Biddick and Gina Andrews farmed the titles in very recent years and it was good to see them in action at Umberleigh. Local riders Darren Edwards, Jo Supple and Millie Wonnacott all won area titles in the past few years and celebrated in style at the track.

We look forward to a fantastic double celebration at Umberleigh in June 2021 – 50 years since the beginning of racing there and hopefully the end of the dreadful virus. It should be quite a party.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

  • Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers, various years
  • The Pointer
  • Sporting Life
  • Sporting Chronicle
  • Michael Kutapan – Point-to-point History & Research, Jumping For Fun website

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – TIVERTON STAGHOUNDS

“Over 1000 feet above sea level with grand view of Exmoor,but grazed by sheep with resulting hazards for unsuspecting racegoers and falling riders”

MacKenzie and Harris – Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers

Despite the sheep droppings this is a grand point-to-point course, well suited on moorland turf for late season fixtures. The Tiverton Staghounds point-to-point would have been the penultimate fixture this season in the Devon & Cornwall area. For well known reasons this has not happened, so I am delving into the history books again to unearth some action from the past.

My first personal recollection of this hunt’s point-to-points was in 1980 when they raced at Bishopsleigh (40 years ago – seems like yesterday). The move to Bratton Down took place in 1988, but the point-to-point had taken place at many different locations going back well over a century
So in place of my usual race report for this week we go back to April 1991:-

TIVERTON STAGHOUNDS AT BRATTON DOWN 27th April 1991

Going; Good to firm

HUNT

1 Sell Up (Richard White)
2 Cricklewood Chris (Stuart Kittow)
6 ran; only two finished; won by a distance; 7m 1s; SP 5-1

OPEN

1 Ballyeden (Philip Scolfield)
2 Connate (Justin Farthing)
3 Another Lucas (Ian Widdicombe)
12 ran; 2l; 6l; 6m 9s; SP 5-1

LADIES OPEN

1 Thrales (Polly Curling)
2 Fandango Boy (Linda Blackford)
3 Tijuca (Mandy Turner)
6 ran; short head; 2l; 6m 9s; SP 4-7 fav

ADJACENT HUNTS

1 The Doormaker (Polly Curling)
2 Life Peerage (Steven Slade)
3 Archie’s Nephew (Justin Farthing)
12 ran; 2l; 1l; 6m 9s; SP 11-4

RESTRICED OPEN

1 Just Joshua (Alison Handel)
2 Master Tuesday (Chris Down)
3 Seal Prince (Justin Farthing)
18 ran; 1l; 1/2l; 6m 10s; SP 25-1

ADJACENT HUNTS MAIDEN

1 Happy Padre (Vivienne Nicholas)
2 Sailor’s Shanty (Rupert Nuttall)
3 Lady Ling C Burnett-Wells)
14 ran; 5l; 6l; 6m 10s; SP 11-4

The opening hunt race proved eventful as the two leaders missed a marker on the final circuit and gifted the race to Richard White on Sell Up, trained by his mother Tessa. Cricklewood Chris would probably have won but for running out and having to re-trace..

Justin Farthing (total of 26 winners) and Philip Scholfield (23 winners) fought out the jockeys title in 1991, but it was Philip who came out the best in the Open on the useful East Cornwall mare Ballyeden, from the yard of Ben Messer-Bennetts. It is great to see Philip’s son Nick Scholfield doing so well in the professional sphere. Connate was attempting a four-timer and was caught on the run in. This grey was saddled by Richard Barber for Commander Peter Longhurst, who trained as a British astronaut back in the day.

Polly Curling needs little introduction to pointing followers and was in the early stages of her career in 1991. Her double here was initiated by course specialist Thrales, who caught Fandango Boy in the last stride. The latter’s rider Linda Blackford went on to claim the lady jockey’s area award with 13 winners. The Doormaker also came with a typical late flourish up the stiff finishing climb to beat Life Peerage and Archie’s Nephew. Life Peerage was owned by Arnie Sendell who later owned Kingscliff. Archie’ s Nephew had given David Pipe his first race ride at Great Trethew. Polly’s two winners came from the local yard of the late Mike Trickey (himself a successful amateur jockey in his day). The Doormaker ran in the colours of Captain Tim Forster who loved his pointing in the Westcountry.

Subsequently three times champion jockey, Polly Curling rode 220 point-to-point winners in her career, plus prestigious hunter chases such as the Cheltenham Foxhunters ( Fantus).

I have plenty of personal anecdotes of Polly and venture to share just one or two here. I first encountered her when she was leading up a horse for Oliver Carter at Ottery St Mary as a youngster long before she had ridden in a race. I was taking paddock notes when Oliver Carter came up to me and said, “That girl leading that horse up will be champion jockey one day.” I thought what a stupid statement, have you been on the whiskey Oliver? However he had obviously spotted Polly’s early talent. How right he was.

A few years later I remember trying to interview one of the lady jockeys at the old Holnicote course. I was sneaking into the lady riders’ changing tent not noting their state of undress when Polly announced to her fellow jockeys, “Don’t worry girls it’s only Granville”.

Also, I won’t dwell on the time that Polly got a group of us thrown out of a pub near Exeter on the way back from the races. I think she was practising some rustic Anglo-Saxon language which upset the locals. Needless to say our group did not dare to use that pub again.

Back to reality, Polly’s double at Bratton was followed by lady jockeys cleaning up the other two races. Alison Handel on 25-1 chance Just Joshua held off the challenges of Chris Down and Justin Farthing to take the 18-runner Restricted Open. The Adjacent Maiden provided a first winner for Vivienne Nicholas on the family bred gelding Happy Padre, a half brother to that brilliant mare Mantinolas.

The history of the Tiverton Staghounds point-to-points goes back for well over a century. Under the title of Sir John Amory’s Staghounds, their early fixtures were shared with the Tiverton Hunt and Sir John Amory’s Harriers. In 1899 the joint meeting was held at Chevithorne Barton, and the following year at Gornhay, which included a water jump of the River Loman. A former Liberal MP, Sir John Amory was master of the Staghounds from 1896 to 1914. He changed his surname to Heathcote-Amory and, together with his family, will be well known in politics.

Joint fixtures continued up to the first world war at such locations listed in the books as Peadhill , Tiverton and Holmead. The 1912 to 1914 meetings saw a slight change of title to Captain H H Amory’s Staghounds with Sir John Amory’s Harriers and the Tiverton Hunt. No further fixtures were held until 1921.
The meeting on 9th April 1921 was the first time the name of The Tiverton Staghounds appeared on the card, combined with the Tiverton Hunt at Peadhill. This combination transferred their point-to-point to Pileywell, near Tiverton in 1924 and continued at that venue until 1939.
It was under the Tiverton Staghounds title only when the first fixture after the war took place at Thelbridge on 3rd May 1947. They raced at this venue until the course closed in 1958. It was on to Loosebeare Manor near Crediton until 1963, when they moved to Venford.

A further move took place in 1965, to Three Hammers, Worlington. The 1968 meeting there saw some top pointers competing in the Open. The winner Hope Again went on to win the Cheltenham Foxhunter in 1971; runner up Lizzy The Lizard (Tony Hartnoll) won the National Hunt Chase at the festival in 1969 ridden by Grant Cann, and third placed Far East II won a stack of races for Ivy Frank. Sadly Tony Hartnoll, the owner of Lizzy The Lizard passed away a few days ago.

The move to Bishopsleigh came on 16th May 1970, featuring a double for Grant Cann, with leading event rider Mary Gordon-Watson winning the Ladies’ on Barty. I remember my first visit to this rural course in 1980. Firstly I couldn’t find the place (only paper maps in those days), It was the middle of a dry spell and the ground was officially hard with very few runners. The favourite got beat a short head in the first. I backed the “winner” of the Restricted but it was disqualified and the two runners in the last both fell. On the bright side the Britton family had a double. The final Tiverton Staghounds fixture at Bishopsleigh was in 1987. They have been at Bratton Down from 1988 up to this day.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  • Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers – various years
  • Horse & Hound Year Book – various years
  • The Pointer
  • Sporting Life
    Sporting Chronicle
    History of the National Hunt Chase – Peter Stevens
  • Point-to-Point Calendar 1935 – 1938– Arthur W Coaten
  • Michael Kutapan – Point-to-point History & Research, Jumping For Fun website

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES – EXMOOR

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882

The Exmoor Hunt was started by Mr Nicholas Snow of Oare in 1869, but I have no trace of any Exmoor point-to-point races until 5th May 1934. Kildare, ridden by Mr T Tozer of the Silverton won the Nomination race that year (basically the Open) from 15 opponents. He also won at the South Devon and Mr Spooner’s that season. The 1934 Exmoor fixture, and those of 1938 and 1939, took place at Bratton Down according to the form books. I am not sure whether it was the same course as today.

No further Exmoor hunt fixtures were held until 1953 when they raced at Thelbridge, which is between Crediton and South Molton. Another meeting was held at Thelbridge in 1954, but it was held at Bratton Down again from 1955 onwards, I think on the same track still used today. That makes Bratton Down one of the longest serving point-to-point courses in the country.
An exposed hill top course with lovely scenic views of the moor, this popular track with the public is triangular shaped with a stiff uphill climb to the judge. Three late season meetings are held there nowadays, and the times on quick ground are often under six minutes, but should not be compared with each other because the racing line varies for each meeting.
This week’s reminiscence about past Exmoor point-to-points took place on Saturday June 1st 1974:

Going Firm

HUNT

1 Credit That (Fred Rawle)
2 Heather Loch (Mrs P Johnson)
3 White Man (Gordon Edwards)
5 ran; 10l; 3l; 6m 8s

ADJACENT HUNTS’

1 Jim Hardy (Jenny Hembrow)
2 Epaulonia (Capt Brian Fanshawe)
3 Culmleigh Heath (Martin Sweetland)
6 ran; 4l; 1/2l; 6m 13s

OPEN

1 Cass (Kevin Bishop)
2 Moorland Venture (N Lethbridge)
3 Doctor Fred (Aubrey Fuller)
14 ran; 15l; 1l; 5m 53s

LADIES OPEN

1 Marshalsland (Fay Geddes)
2 Knockabitoff (Pip Fisher)
3 Orient War (Terri Pattemore)
12ran; 12l; 3l; 5m 48s

ADJACENT HUNTS’

1 Evens Bar (Capt Brian Fanshawe)
2 Liffey Breeze (Mark Reeves)
3 Perfidia (Michael Trickey)
7 ran; 10l; 10l; 6m 1s

Credit That was a good thing for the Hunt race, coming off his recent Holnicote win. Fred Rawle rode plenty of winners at Bratton and sailed clear on this promising youngster round the final bend.

Taunton based Jenny Hembrow was one of the top lady jockeys of the day, and evidently one of the most patient owners since she persuaded her Jim Hardy to get his head in front in the Adjacents’ after 49 consecutive defeats.

The Open winner Cass was a remarkable little gelding. The form books relate that he was bought for only 200 gns at Bridgwater Fair. I once asked his owner/rider Kevin Bishop to confirm that fact and he said it was absolutely true. The combination won eight of their 14 races in 1974. I remember Cass as a gritty type and superb jumper. I think he also appeared in the film The Belstone Fox. The grey mare Moorland Venture ran a promising race and became a decent pointer but was no match for Cass. Aubrey Fuller’s Doctor Fred will be remembered for giving 13-year-old Jimmy Frost his first ever winner at Lemalla in 1972.

Marshalsland was a prolific winning pointer, well handled by Fay Geddes. When he retired he had won 43 races including 16 at Larkhill. I think I am correct in saying that Marshalsland held the course record at Larkhill for many years. Knockabitoff was a decent pointer in Paul Tyler’s familiar maroon and grey colours, and went on to win plenty of races. Orient War was passed by Knockabitoff for second place on the uphill run in. This useful ex-chaser had won his first four races in 1974.

I cannot recall the exact qualifications for the Adjacent Hunts’ Moderate races in those days, but I had seen the winner here Evens Bar, owned by Ivy Frank, beat Capelena and Sparkling Lad in a Maiden earlier in the month on my first visit to the old Holnicote course (much of the home straight at Holnicote on light plough in those days). This second win when rules were different from today was achieved carrying a small penalty for winning her first Maiden just three days before at Bratton Down ( Stevenstone meeting). Her jockey Capt Brian Fanshawe was of course associated with The Dikler in his early races.

I must mention that the Horse and Hound Cup on the same day at Stratford was of equal interest to West Country fans. In one of the best fields ever assembled for that prestigious race, the star Cattistock hunter chaser Stanhope Street, ridden by Barry Venn and starting favourite, beat other top performers in Weathervane and Shraden Sparkle. Horses of the quality of Lucky Rock, Indamelia, Mighty Red and Credit Call were unplaced. I remember seeing Stanhope Street, ridden by Gillian Fortescue-Thomas, beat Zanetta in the Heythrop Ladies’ when it was run at the much missed Fox Farm.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  • Hunter Chasers & Point-to-Pointers – Geoffrey Sale & Iain MacKenzie – various years
  • Horse & Hound Year Book – various years
  • The Pointer
  • Sporting Life (Michael Williams)
  • Baily’s Hunting Directory
  • Michael Kutapan – Point-to-point History & Research, Jumping For Fun website
  • Point-to-Point Calendar 1933 – 1938– Arthur W Coaten

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 – 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 – LAMERTON

GRANVILLE’S REMINISCENCES

“Memories are like antiques, the older they are the more valuable they became.”

Marinela Reka

.

During this difficult time with all point-to-pointing cancelled for the season, I am putting together a few articles about past Devon & Cornwall race meetings on to our website to keep us going. I hope to bring to life some past memories and perhaps provide a flavour of how things were in days gone by.

Since the first area fixture to be scuppered by the coronavirus was the Lamerton last Sunday, we start with a Lamerton meeting at Kilworthy 49 years ago (27th March 1971).

I hope that readers of a certain age (if indeed there are any readers) will remember some of the horses and jockeys involved. I was actually at the Pytchley meeting at Guilsborough, Northants that day watching such jockeys as Dick Saunders, John Docker, Peter Hobbs and Bill Tellwright in action.

Lamerton at Kilworthy 27 March 1971;

Hunt race:

1 Devon Rock (Frank Ryall)
2 Jocrow (D Moore)
3 Ireland’s Joy (R Edwards)
4 ran; 2l; dist; SP 2-5fav

Ladies’ Open:

1 Trewithett (Mrs Rame Fell)
2 Clyderound (Miss E Pinsent)
3 Warrior Prince (Miss J Blight)
11 ran; 1l 1/2l; SP 3-1 jt fav

Adjacent Hunts’

1 Golden Batman (Tony Hartnoll)
2 Delia’s Diadem (C Micklem)
3 Barn Dance (M Williams)
5l; 12l; SP 6-4 jt fav

Open

1 Sea Spirit (Hendrik Wiegersma)
2 Victory Spirit (Col CR Spencer)
3 Barter’s Peice (W Dennis)
11ran; SP 6-4 jt fav

Adjacent Hunts’ Maiden

1 Rummy Hand (Tim Le C Grice)
2 Merry Lord (TJ Harris)
3 Miss Cosmo (N Lethbridge)
9 ran; 2l; dist; SP 6-1

Only five races for us lucky race readers in those days! Just illustrates the good value of today’s point-to-points. When I first went to Kilworthy in the late 1970’s I remember immediately after jumping the last fence there was a very sharp right hand turn before a stiff run in below the car park along the bottom of the field of about 150 yards.

The 1971 Men’s Open winner Sea Spirit (by Spiritus) was a useful performer qualified with the Taunton Vale owned by Peter Blackburn. He also scored at the Tetcott at Crimp Morwenstow that season. Victory Spirit, qualified with Spooners & West Dartmoor, was also by Spiritus and enjoyed a remarkably consistent career from 1964 until retirement in 1973, winning 26 point-to-points and two hunter chases from 53 starts. Barbers Peice (funny spelling and his sire Cinecolor had changed hands for only 65 gns as a three-year-old) also won the Stevenstone Members’, the Torrington Farmers Members and the South Tetcott Moderate in 1971.

The Ladies’ Open winner Trewithett went on to win the Spooners Ladies’ easily and went well for Rame Fell. He was a strong stayer and a far better horse on long tracks like Kilworthy, where he won three times. The runner up Clyderound stayed on to get within one length of the winner. She was a soft ground specialist at tracks like Buckfastleigh and Tehidy. The Tetcott gelding Warrior Prince was useful on his best form and went well for his rider Jill Blight (now Jill Dennis).

Golden Batman won eight of his 13 races in 1971 , including an unbeaten hat trick at Buckfastleigh. His regular rider Anthony Hartnoll finished seventh in the 1971 National jockeys table. Delia’s Diadem was a genuine mare winning three of her four points in 1971, with Charles Micklem taking over from the late Joan Depree. She led at the last in this race at Kilworthy before being outpaced by the winner. Barn Dance had won a few times on the flat in his early days but was probably past his best by 1971.

Frank Ryall needs little introduction to local followers. He was in the twilight of his career by 1971. His career total of 218 point-to-point winners has only been surpassed today by a handful of riders. He owned his Hunt race winner Devon Rock who was a bit one paced, but followed up in his Members’ the following year.

The Maiden race looked fairly moderate but the winner Rummy Hand went on to win the Dartmoor & Modbury Harriers Members’ at Buckfastleigh later in 1971 where the going was published as firm to hard. He later developed into a useful point-to-pointer winning races under Janine Evans ( later Janine Mills) and subsequently took a hunter chase at Haldon ridden by Anthony Mildmay-White. He even ran in a Cheltenham Foxhunters but was past his best by then.

Acknowledgments;

“Hunter Chasers and Point-to-Pointers”

“Horse and Hound Year book”

GRANVILLE’S BETTING GOSSIP: DART VALE & HALDON HARRIERS AT BUCKFASTLEIGH ON SUNDAY 15TH MARCH 2020

Oh dear, so that’s it for the season with three months of pointing in our area still to go. No more point-to-points, no more betting gossip, racing suspended, the industry jeopardised, bookies redundant and they are trying to handcuff me to the chair.

Whether it was the dodgy weather (it rained all morning on Sunday) or coronavirus worries, it was a shame that the normal bustling atmosphere of Buckfastleigh was lacking. The track conformation was a bit different because the normal last fence was not jumped, meaning a very long run-in from the jump coming off the top bend. There was plenty of quality racing though for the faithful to enjoy.

The opening five runner Hunt race was a bit of a puzzle. I couldn’t work it out so no bet. 10-year-old Moonaro is still a maiden but was sent off 2-1 fav having been chalked up at 3’s. Beuvron settled at 5-2 from 3’s but he is not very reliable nowadays. Tarrytown (9-2) had shown a glimmer of form, and the experienced Skylander (11-4) is capable on his day. It was another maiden however, Ragged Dream (7-1), who prevailed in a close finish to give 17-year-old Tamby Welch a deserved first point-to-point winner.

Stevan Steel (5-2 to 9-4 fav) is no rock star but came good under a typically positive Darren Edwards ride to win the Open Maiden easily from 11 opponents. The rider had the luxury of a peep round with his toiling rivals stone cold off the last bend. West Somerset trainer Janet Ackner does well with this type of horse who was placed in an Irish Maiden as long as four years ago, but had been knocking at the door recently. He must get his grey coat from his dam Silver Proverb who was moderate but had to lump a young claimer called Tom Malone round over hurdles a few years ago.

Gunner Vic (10-1) came from well off the pace to claim the runner up spot (he would have been put into the note book for a Bratton Down meeting). Natalie Parker’s mount Clever des Assence (drifted from 2’s to 3’s) was a head away in third after pressing the leaders for a long way.

The Men’s Open was the Devon & Cornwall Area Classic race limited to previous winners. Navanman (6-4 fav having touched 11-4) needs little introduction and duly took his pointing wins to 11, this time with Darren Edwards in the saddle. John Heard’s charge relished the heavy ground and went 20 lengths clear round the top bend before cantering home ahead of Big Georgie (7-1). Below form Fishy Story, who had touched evens before settling at 2’s, finished a well beaten third. Navanman had a good reason for his defeat at the showground last month when sustaining an injury, and connections have done well to squeeze another win out of this top pointer.

Nickelsonthedime (5-4 to 4-5) had created a very favourable impression with a couple of Wadebridge wins, but had to give best in a good Intermediate to The Galloping Bear (5-2) who had won his Restricted on the showground after opening his account in the mud at Ffos Las in December. The Galloping Bear (Darren Andrews) led from the top of the hill and stayed on well in conditions much to his liking. Both these promising types are by the St Leger winner Shantou who has developed into a leading NH stallion. It is unfortunate that the Exeter final to this event is lost.

The two market leaders also dominated the Skinner’s Ladies’ Open. The game veteran Dicky Bob (solid 3’s) jumped well and tried to make all the running under Millie Wonnacott, but was overhauled off the last bend by a confidently ridden Master Baker partnered by Jo Supple (evens fav). Jo is nearing her century of winners and has been on board Master Baker for all of his 15 wins, including three hunter chases. Wind Tor (3’s) was a distant third. Goldbury (8’s to 7’s) looked fit but had an off day and was pulled up before half way.

The form worked out in the Novice Riders race when Millanisi Boy (4-5 to 4-6) just made his experience pay with a two lengths success over the penalised Raddon Top (3-1). The winner always seemed to be holding the upper hand but was hard pressed by his main rival from the top of the hill and was driven right out by Fergus Gillard.

The Point-to-Point flat race was scheduled as the last race but had to be divided after attracting 15 declarations, exceeding the safety limit by one. Six of the eight runners in the first section were unraced which made for a cagey betting market. The faces went for Alan Hill’s once raced five-year-old Vain Girl (2-1 fav), but there was support for Any Alibis (7’s to 3’s) and the subsequent Fran Nimmo trained winner Sun Rising Hill (3-1). The Warwickshire trainer specialises in this type of event and this Mahler four-year-old certainly knew her job, coming clear under Alice Stevens to beat Nicky Martin’s Fevertre (4-1).

The other division, shall we call it the last waltz, went to Gerry Supple’s Sandaroc (3’s to 5-2), a strong bodied four-year-old filly by Shirocco who looked fit and ready to go in the preliminaries. Sandaroc landed a double for promising young jockey Fergus Gillard, fending off the jolly, Charlottes Way (2’s from 4’s) inside the last couple of furlongs. In another tight betting heat there were bits and pieces for third placed Red Cap (4’s to 3’s), Midnight Billy (7-2) and The Ramp Sleeper (5’s).

Before you ask, yes, I backed Sandaroc ( on the basis of paddock inspection). I would like to think that I was just coming into form on the betting front when the curtain came down dramatically, but that is what all of us punters would say……