Over 100 entries have been received for the South Pool Harriers meeting due to be held at the historic racecourse Buckfastleigh this coming Sunday 17th February. Pony racing heads up the action at 11am, with the main six race card starting at Noon.
The feature race of the day is the Winners Only Mixed Open known as the ‘West Country Champion Chase’ which has a prize of £700 to the winner and is also a qualifier for the Timico Mixed Open Final to be held at Cheltenham in May. 19 entries had been received before the new vaccination rules had been announced on Tuesday morning, which may possibly exclude a few, however it promises still to be a really competitive race. Recent Chipley Park winner Heaney is entered for local trainer Claire Wonnacott and daughter Millie to ride. Heaney is out of the same Dam as Definitly Red, and is giving his connections plenty to be pleased about having won three of his seven starts to date and finished in the frame on the remaining four. Blackwater Bramble for trainer Alexandra Dunn won at this course in November and followed that up with two wins at Larkhill, he holds an entry at Larkhill again and could head for the Conditions race there. Dicky Bob (Verity Nicholls) already on a hat-trick here, is an entry for local jockey Tomasina Eyston to ride, and could add to Dicky Bob’s total of thirteen wins to date. His first outing this season saw him finish a creditable second to Monsieur Gibralter at Larkhill, Navanman (John Heard) is another with wins at this course and his recent second to Virak at Chipley Park could also put him in the mix if he runs here. The Last But One (Tom Malone), Master Baker (Lisa Jefford) and Herbert Park (Ray Alford) all have wins under rules and would prove dangerous if added to the equation.
The opening Hassall Law Ltd Conditions race could see dual Wadebridge winner Raddon Top for the Les Jefford team, follow up on his second in a maiden here last season. He looks progressive and goes well for regular jockey Bryan Carver. Kernel Victor is the highest rated, is also a previous course winner here and could add to his seven wins to date for trainer Ed Walker.
Exeter Racecourse sponsor the Intermediate race in which In Arrears for the Gordon Edwards team stayed on well when winning her Restricted by a neck at Chipley Park under Darren Edwards. Her opposition here could be Sixteen Letters for the Big Brook yard, having run second at this course last season and could go well fresh.
Luscombe Maye sponsor the Confined Race for Horses and Geldings. Merchant House (Les Jefford) catches the eye having won a Flat race at Barbury in December under in form jockey Jo Supple, could go well if taking to fences. Minimalistic wouldn’t need to travel far, the seven-year-old gelding is based at Nikki Frost’s yard at Buckfastleigh, and could come on for his three-length second to Raging Fire at Chipley Park.
Cloudy Music (Dean Summersby), Deise Gold (Jill Dennis) and Where’s Wilma (Michael Watson) have all notched up good place form recently and should be high among the betting in the Jockey Club-sponsored Mares Maiden race. Isla’s Dream is an entry for bloodstock agent and trainer Tom Malone, the mare won her division of a Flat race at Barbury and is another youngster who could run well if taking to fences, and also be another winner for jockey Jo Supple.
Finally to close the days event is the Moorland Timber-sponsored Restricted race which has attracted 21 entries. These include recent Chipley Maiden winner Crown Of Thorns who stayed on well to win under jockey Will Biddick. Pancrace (Teresa Clark) is another possibility for Will to ride if the combination head here and not the Larkhill meeting. Trainer/jockey Heidi Lewis has entered Native Gamut, and could be in the mix having run well in second at Wadebridge. Miss Seagreen is another to note, the six-year-old Black Sam Bellamy mare won her Maiden at Larkhill under trainer/jockey Sam Jukes last month.
The course is located off the A38 at Lower Dean. Postcode TQ11 OLT. On course facilities include hot and cold food and refreshments, bar, bookies and a number of trade stands. Entrance is £10 per person with children under 16 free. Dogs on leads welcome. Check out all the latest up to date information on the http://www.pointingdc.co.uk website or by following Pointingdc on social media. The committee would also like to mention MST (Medland Sanders & Twose) and Ashburton Motor Works who are other major sponsors for the event and will be bringing their large trade displays.
Having enjoyed one of the longest Summers for decades, It’s now time to dig out the winter woollies, welly boots and picnics as the Pointing season is about to begin.
The old historic course at Buckfastleigh is the venue for the first meeting on Sunday 18th November, which will be hosted by the Silverton & Mid Devon. There are six races on offer which have attracted 70 entries, with a start time of 12 noon.
There should be some give in the ground after the recent deluge of rain, however trainers will be hoping to have achieved enough fast work in their horses to be competitive here. One such local trainer is Claire Wonnacott who has entered previous Wadebridge and Flete winner Heaney for daughter Millie to ride. Millie is now based working at Neil Mulholland’s yard and recently rode her first winner under rules, Ladies Dancing for Chris Down. Heaney is among the 13 entries in the Heltor-sponsored Conditions race. Honest Deed from the Dean Summersby team, could be among the entries to challenge, having held Heaney to a head second at the Upcott Cross meeting. Portrait King catches the eye, having won over 100k under rules, including a third in the Topham at Aintree. Portrait King now runs for the Woollacott team under the care of long term stable hand Neil McLean, who is now in charge of the Pointers.
The opening Maiden race for 4,5 & 6 year-olds is sponsored by The Tiverton Hotel. Robin Why Not stands out for the Joe Tickle team, who have an excellent strike rate with maiden horses. Having run second here last season, he could have the booking of area champion jockey Will Biddick, who is looking to break the all time Point-to-Point wins, the title which is currently held by Richard Burton. Bridge of Cally could be an exiting new recruit for the Dean Summersby yard, having had previous National Hunt form when finishing third in a Hurdle race under rules at Southwell last February, and will have the booking here of Darren Edwards to ride.
Seven are entered for the Royal Seven Stars Hotel-sponsored Restricted race, in which Predestined, for local trainer Gordon Chambers could go well. Predestined won his maiden here on heavy going in March and soon followed that run up with a decent second on good to soft at Flete Park, Druid Spitfire has yet to run at this course, but is bred locally by Elizabeth Kessler. He won his maiden at Kilworthy under jockey Tom Chanin, followed by a second at the Vauterhill meeting for the Robert Chanin team.
Navanman stands out in the JL Lightfoot Allingeston Stud, Spreyton-sponsored Mixed Open race, which has attracted eleven entries. A previous course winner here last season, along with a win at the Flete park meeting Navanman has been placed in all of his starts in 2018 to date, under jockey Rex Dingle for the John Heard yard. Entry O Maonlai for the local Welch family and Hannah Welch to ride looks a promising horse to follow. He has two seconds in Hunter Chase runs earlier this season at Exeter and Newton Abbot courses, whilst in training with Alexandra Dunn.
Sixteen are entered for the Richard Stringer Equine Vet Practice & Mr Richard Mizen-sponsored Open Maiden race. Banco de Logoa is another new recruit for the Dean Summersby team for Darren Edwards to ride, he could be a likely favourite after his second in a hurdle race under rules at Towcester in March, when trained by Seamus Mullins. Outside raider Road to Rome is another to note with National Hunt form when in training with Oliver Sherwood gaining seconds earlier this year in Chase races at Bangor and Ludlow. Road to Rome is now in training with Jospeh O’Shea who is based in Staffordshire. Moonaro is another to note. Based locally at Kingsbridge for the Edward Darke team, Moonaro ran second at Bishops Court and Kilworthy tracks earlier this year, and would be a popular local winner. Nikki Frost wouldn’t have to travel far to this track either, and her debutant maiden Cuddle Up under jockey Josh Newman, could be a worthy each way bet.
Exeter Racecourse sponsor the Intermediate race which has attracted six entries. Ballycahane from the Nicky Sheppard (Monmouth) yard will have to defy top weight and a long journey to keep his head in front here. Although has proven to be a good stayer and has some solid form with wins at Chaddesley Corbett and Cockleburrow. Point View Gale for the Woollacott team, won his maiden at Bishops Court twelve months ago and ended last season with a win at Cothelstone in a strong contest having made all that day. The first two past the post qualify for the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate series finals to be held at Cheltenham in May.
On course facilities are hot and cold refreshments, bar, bookies and a number of trade stands. Also offers a good disabled parking area Located at Lower Dean off the A38 and offers fabulous viewing. Postcode TQ11 OLT. Entrance to the course is £10 per person with children under 16 free.
A full fixture list for both Devon & Cornwall and Wessex area, can be obtained by sending a SAE to Claire Hitch Barn Lane Farm, Stoke Rivers, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 7LD.
An opportunity to join some of Britain’s leading brands by sponsoring a series of point-to-point races has become available for the 2017/18 season.
The series, which has been successfully backed in recent years by iconic car manufacturer Subaru, has become available following a review of their marketing programme as a result of adverse exchange rate conditions.
Paul Tunnicliffe, managing director of importers IML UK & Ireland says: “Everyone at Subaru including our many dealers, have enjoyed the time they have spent at Point-to-Points across the UK. The PPA team could not have been more helpful and supportive, and we have encountered some truly wonderful individuals at grass roots level who have been gracious and deeply appreciative of our involvement. I am very happy to endorse a sponsorship partnership to companies wishing to get involved with Point-to-Point.”
Subaru’s sponsorship involved support for races across the season and around the British Isles, climaxing with a hunters’ chase final at Stratford racecourse in May/June, but a series to suit the needs of a new sponsor can be tailored to individual plans. Brand leaders Connolly’s RED MILLS, Skinners Pet Foods, Dodson & Horrell, The Jockey Club, Timico and Goffs UK remain as national sponsors within a sport which has nationwide appeal and reach. Clare Hazell, chief executive of the Point-to-Point Authority, says: “We are hugely disappointed to lose Subaru UK’s sponsorship and will be forever grateful to Paul Tunnicliffe and the team at Subaru UK for their support of the sport. We wish them well in the future. “The chance to engage with this fantastic sport and the tens of thousands of people who follow it is a great opportunity for a new sponsor.”
Becci Thompson, Commercial and Communications Executive of the Point-to-Point Authority, says: “The creative team at the PPA enjoy working closely with our partners to ensure they achieve their ambitions. Working across our official and promotional (GoPointing) social media channels provides extensive opportunity for companies to create innovative activities and narrative around sponsorship, and the excitement of point-to-point racing. In addition, colourful photo opportunities, makes it a natural fit for businesses who want to engage with the quality countryside demographic. There are further brand awareness opportunities through the weekly digital magazine ‘Go Pointing’ and via the national website (www.pointtopoint.co.uk).”
For further information about sponsorship of the restricted race championship, contact
Becci Thompson The Point-to-Point Authority Ltd: 01793 781990 firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Spooners & West Dartmoor host the first of two Point-to-Point horse racing fixtures in the area, to be held over the Easter weekend, with their meeting taking place on Saturday April 4th at Cherrybrook, near Tavistock. Six races are on offer which start at 1pm. They include a competitive Mixed Open, sponsored by Langdon Transport, in which entries include prolific winning mare Lucette Annie and Hunter Chase winner Double Bank. Hameldown Tor is another entry holding strong claims if following up from his win at Milborne St Andrew where jockey Rob Henderson clocked up his 100th winner.
The Exeter Racecourse Intermediate race features, which is a qualifier for the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Championship final Hunter Chase to be at Cheltenham on April 29th. Entries include the two Nicola Martin-trained horses According To Harry and Sonoftheking, both with a strong chance of winning here. Miss Gotaway is another suggestion, having progressed well when taking the Restricted race at Buckfastleigh under Jamie Thomas for trainer Kayley Woollacott.
The Members race is sponsored by Condy Mathias, this could see locally trained Dicky Bob make it five out of five in Point races, having won at Kilworthy two weeks ago for the Verity Nicholls team, he seems unstoppable.
Tyre Marks sponsor the Restricted race, in which the Ed Walker-trained Doyen Dynamo could follow up on his win two weeks ago at Kilworthy, when taking the Maiden race three lengths ahead of Steel Brush. On Your Max another from the Walker team, ran a good second at Larkhill recently. Lucius Fabeo and Polo The Mumm could figure if the going stays soft, for novice jockey’s Olivia Hutchings and Hannah Welch.
The Rock Inn sponsor the Confined, with Mic’s Delight possibly skipping this meeting for Mondays fixture, it will leave the door open for Diamond Brook to follow up on his second to Dicky Bob at Kilworthy. Mausefalle is another to catch the eye, after his win under jockey Darren Edwards in the Members race also at Kilworthy.
The Open Maiden race is sponsored by Charles Stanley, which closes the days event. Suggestions are Spendajennie, Arny and Mount Prospex.
The course at Cherrybrook is a popular picnic track for all the family, with on course facilities of bar, bookies, many trade stands and hot refreshments. Entrance to the course is £10 per car & driver, passengers £10 to a maximum of £30, with children under 16 free. The course is located north of Tavistock signed from A386. Postcode PL19 OLA
THE game Devon mare Lucette Annie proved a shining star on a dull, overcast afternoon at Buckfastleigh where the going was predominately soft. This popular chestnut made all the running to score easily in the hands of regular jockey Darren Edwards. She was well clear and looked in command when Robbie Henderson pulled up the favourite The Mythologist almost within the wings of the second last. The favourite looked to be giving vain chase at the time. “He was very tired,” said his jockey.
“Lucette Annie has now won 12 races including four times at Buckfastleigh,” beamed Simon Partridge who trains the mare for owners Janet Humphrey and Clare West. This is almost certainly her last season since a mating with Black Sam Bellamy beckons. “I would like to run her in a hunter chase before then, but she is ground dependent and it would have to be on the soft side or good at least,” added the Poundsgate trainer
The Restricted winner Miss Gotaway (Jamie Thomas) also confirmed a likeness for the track and testing ground by following up her course win last month when overhauling the front running Donpierre (Ben Robarts) approaching the final fence. Home bred by Audrey Goodwin, the Midnight Legend mare looks a decent stayer in the making. “She jumps well, stays all day and is one of the nicest mares in the yard,” enthused trainer Kayley Woollacott.
Dicky Bob also started off his winning sequence on this course last month and was scoring for the third time in succession when turning the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate qualifier into a procession under Jo Buck. The betting suggested a straight fight between Dicky Bob (7-4) and Lotus Pond (11-10) who was seeking his fourth straight win. Peter Bryan sent Lotus Pond into the lead at the sixth fence, but Dicky Bob stuck his grey head in front at the fourth last and sailed well ahead down the hill to win in a canter. A tired Lotus Pond was overhauled by Infamous Grouse for the runner up spot. Jo Buck was partnering her 50th point-to-point winner on Dicky Bob, whose owner/trainer Verity Nicholls considered that her progressive grey, “needs more experience,” when I posed the question whether the Cheltenham final of this event might be on the agenda.
The successful graduation of former pony racing riders has been a feature of Westcountry pointing this year. Hannah Welch, 17 and Harry Cobden, 16, are just two teenagers to emerge, and each added to their previous successes on Sunday.
Hannah’s winner was the hat trick seeking Beuvron who landed odds of 1-4 in the Hunt race. ”He will probably be better with the lighter weights in Ladies’ races and we will go down that route now,” stated Sam Holdsworth, who trains the ex-French gelding for Charles Stanley.
All 12 starters in the Novice Riders’ race got round with Silver Token scoring by seven lengths after a patient ride from Harry Cobden. Ottery winner Mic’s Delight set out to make all under Jennifer Davenport, but the winner had been making stealthy progress under his stylish young rider and seized the initiative running down the hill towards the last bend. This was the second winner of the weekend for Cobden who now has five point-to-points plus a Leicester hunter chase to his credit.
The two divisions of the Open Maiden race also attracted 12 runners in each division with each section going to previously unraced horses. Crosspark caught the eye in the parade ring in the first division, and this Midnight Legend five-year-old was well backed before making a winning debut under Josh Guerriero. Home bred by the Dennis family, Crosspark runs in the colours of Jill Dennis. “We hold this horse in the very highest regard. The dam Blue Shannon also produced It’s a Long Road who won twice for us last month. This is better than giving mother a box of chocolates for mother’s day,” smiled Tim Dennis.
Another home bred in the shape of Wee Saxon opened his account in the other division. Tom Chanin eased the six-year-old into the race along the back straight, but his progress was halted with a mistake at the third last. The Kayf Tara gelding rallied down the hill and headed Oldeddietherebel on the home bend despite running green. Robert Chanin trains the winner for owner Julie Purdie and said, “He is a lovely young horse. We have had him since September but he cut a rear fetlock on Christmas Eve and had to have a month off.” Julie’s husband Sax said, “This horse is bred from a family we have had for forty years.”
Blazing Whale can follow up on his Point-to-Point win last month, when he took the West Country Champion Chase at the popular course at Buckfastleigh, where the Dart Vale & Haldon Harriers host their meeting this Sunday March 15. The feature race looks to be the Totnes & Bridgetown Races Co Mixed Open. Devon based trainer Ed Walker has two entered, Blazing Whale, who relished the soft going under jockey Robbie Henderson to win by a neck at the last meeting in a thrilling finish. Hameldown Tor also from the Walker yard, could be their preferred runner, having recently run second when well fancied at the Badbury Rings meeting. The Mythologist also entered, came back to form two weeks ago when winning at Cothelstone another under Robbie Henderson, the horse is now trained by current national leading trainer Jack Barber, It will be interesting to see which horse Henderson gets the leg up on.
Pony racing heads up the action at 12 noon, with the main race card commencing at 1 pm. There are seven races on offer, with over 100 entries received. Spending Mother’s day at the races can provide a lovely day out for all the family, with the first fifty through the gate paying to park, being offered a free box of chocolates as they arrive.
The Kath Bond Memorial Members race, kindly sponsored by John Bond heads up the action, in which French import Beuvron for local owner Charlie Stanley, looks hard to appose having taken two Ladies Opens under novice jockey Hannah Welch. Beuvron’s trainer Sam Holdsworth clocked up a double last weekend at the Great Trethew meeting. Also entered is Grand Award, he won this race last season for young trainer Imogen Darke under jockey Alice Mills, they look the likely challengers.
Two divisions of the Open Maiden follow, the first is sponsored by Winston Pincombe of Chulmleigh. Suggestions could be Road To Success who under trainer/jockey Ben Clarke ran a good second to Bishops Court at Cothelstone two weeks ago. Flood Tide is another entry to consider after his third here at the last meeting for the Dean Summersby team. The second division of the Open Maiden is sponsored by Barton Sawmills, this race could go the way of the Jack Barber-trained Just Imagine It, having scored a half length second at the Chipley Park meeting in January under Will Biddick. Miss Weld also entered, could put up a challenge for local jockey Pippa Glanville, after her creditable second at the Bishops Court meeting.
In the Connolly’s Red Mills sponsored Intermediate race, Dicky Bob has won his last two starts for trainer Verity Nicholls, including a win here at the February meeting under Tom Chanin, that day holding Peterbrook to an eight-length second. Nicola Martin is frequently turning out winners and her entry in this, Infamous Grouse, won here also at the February meeting and should be in the mix.
Luscombe Maye sponsor the Countryside Alliance club members race for novice riders. This looks very competitive between local jockey’s Hannah Welch with either Beuvron if not running in the earlier race, Ladyvie or Jopero, and Jennifer Davenport with Mic’s Delight, both jockeys looking to follow up on their recent wins. The main danger could be Silver Token, who under Harry Cobden took the novice riders race at Badbury Rings, having stayed on well for trainer Rachael Green.
The Restricted race which is sponsored by WBW Solicitors, Newton Abbot, could see the impressive Montecito from the Jack Barber team turn up to steel this. The horse made virtually all under current leading national champion jockey Will Biddick, to take his Maiden at the recent Badbury Rings meeting. Ziggerson Hill from the Jackie du Plessis team had stayed on well when taking the Mares Maiden race here last month, under Olivia Hutchings. Polo The Mumm ran last weekend and literally hacked up when well fancied to take his maiden at Great Trethew, giving jockey Hannah Welch a pleasing ride,they could well be out for another pipe opener at this meeting.
The course offers excellent viewing and amenities, including great hot and cold food, bar with real ale, bookies, and a host of trade stands.
The course is located 1m south of Buckfastleigh alongside the A38. Postcode TQ11 0LT.
Entrance £10 per person to £25 per car maximum. Under 16’s free.
I have spent a fair part of the day on the course with a lot of other helpers,adding the finishing touches for Sunday’s meeting, myself mainly in the “Admin Shed”, the others round the course. After a little more overnight rain, the course is now looking great and the outlook for Sunday remains good, the “Declarations team” are geared up and will be ready & waiting, the hunt’s “Catering team are geared up to offer great refreshments, the bar’s got the beer in, the trophies and race cards are loaded ready for the morning and the Secretary’s going to try and get a good night’s sleep tonight! Ponies at 11am, Pointers at 12 noon.
We’re easy to find, alongside the A38 at Lower Dean, and the card promises exciting racing, particularly the £1000 Westcountry Champion Chase.
Come and join us for a great day out!
DVSPH PtP Secretary.
Friday 13th February
“The Clerk of the Course reported that at 3pm this afternoon, after heavy rainfall, the Going at Buckfastleigh has eased. It is now Good to Soft, Good in Places. More rain showers are forecast overnight, dying out to give a mainly dry day Saturday with the outlook for Sunday, cloudy but dry, with some sunshine”.
DVSPH PtP Secretary
Thursday 12 Feb 2015
This afternoon the Clerk of the Course reports that the Going at Buckfastleigh stands unchanged – Good, Good to Soft in places. Work proceeds apace with the finishing touches to the course and all is looking in good order. Rain forecast for Friday will serve to freshen it and no problems are anticipated.
DVSPH PtP Secretary
Tuesday 10 February
Clerk of the Course, George Welch, walked the course today with Clare Wonnacott, the local BHA Course Inspector and Terry Hamlin, Chairman of the Panel of Stewards for Buckfastleigh. They stated they found the Going to be Good, Good to soft in places, confirming our earlier Preliminary Report, and are satisfied the course is shaping up nicely for our forthcoming meeting on Sunday. Further updates will follow as the week progresses
Going Report and Preliminary Information posted with Talking Point, D&C Area Website and Jumping4Fun on “Entries Weekend”, Saturday 7 February 2015
The George Welch, Clerk of the Course reported that, as of the afternoon Sat. 7 Feb, the preliminary Going at Buckfastleigh is “Good, Good to Soft in places”. There is a good even covering of grass and a smooth level racing surface. Course preparation work has been steadily going on all week for racing left-handed again, all the jumps are in place and the track itself in excellent order.
Regular Going updates will be posted throughout next week on Talking Point and the official D&C Point-to-Point website: www.pointingdc.co.uk.
The Point-to-Point is preceded by Pony Racing at 11am and the 1st Point-to-Point race is at 12 noon. Six races are scheduled, including the prestigious Devon & Cornwall Area Classic Race, the £1000 “Westcountry Champion Chase” Mixed Open, sponsored by Totnes & Bridgetown Races Co., and worth £700 to the Winner, 2nd £200 and 3rd £100.
Easily located via slip roads off the A38 at Lower Dean (Postcode TQ11 0LT), the course offers excellent viewing and amenities – bookies, quality hot food, licensed bar (real ale), trade stalls and displays, plus Westcountry Videos will be attending to record events, together with Tracy Roberts (Turfpix.com) the official Course Photographer.
There is hard standing for lorries and a good, hard track to exit from for all cars. Entry costs are £10 per person (£25 per car maximum) Under 16’s free. Race Cards cost £2.50 each.
General Enquiries: PtP Secretary Mrs E Ashby Tel: 01548 531490
“I’ve always told [owner] John Symes that this is the best horse he’s got, but he doesn’t believe me!” laughed Richard Woollacott, after the John Mathias-ridden Parkam Jack had defied a 19-month absence to land the Mixed Open at the expense of last year’s winner and odds-on favourite Certain Flight.
A former winner of two Points, a Newton Abbot novice hunter chase and a Worcester maiden hurdle under Woollacott’s trainership, but now representing wife Kayley’s Pointing string, the Grape Tree Road gelding showed no signs of ring-rustiness despite an extended break owed to a leg problem, and having been allowed to switch off in rear up to halfway found plenty for driving to fend off his closest pursuer by an eventual half-length margin.
“He always wins driven out, but that’s just him!” Woollacott continued. “In fairness he’s always been our best work horse at home, but he doesn’t always do it on the track for you. We didn’t do anything special to get him fit after his leg, just a lot of galloping, and we knew that was enough. We knew he was fit for today.”
Although already proven over Rules fences by expedient of that Newton Abbot victory, a return for Parkam Jack to Richard’s side of the yard any time soon is by no means assured. “We knew he was good enough to be worth giving a year off and bringing back for this job [Pointing], but we won’t go back under Rules except perhaps for a hunter chase. We know exactly what he is – he’s a solid 112-rated sort of horse, and no better.”
Five winners for the season for Kayley Woollacott quickly became six, as Larkhill Restricted dead-heater Jepeck sprung himself from Intermediate class at the first time of asking with a victory rather more emphatic than that recorded in Wiltshire three weeks earlier. Momentarily under pressure approaching three out, Jamie Thomas’s mount produced an irresistible renewed effort between the final two fences to win going away.
Success here qualified the son of Westerner for both the Connolly’s Red Mills and Exeter Racecourse Intermediate Finals at a stroke, but thoughts are yet to turn to either target in earnest – perhaps unsurprisingly, coming as they would nearly six months into a campaign that started at the season-opening Black Forest Club fixture.
Kayley Woollacott ventured further: “He’s still only six and we wouldn’t want to over-race him. Even this was a quick reappearance after Larkhill, but there wouldn’t have been anywhere to go with him for a while after as he has to go right-handed.” A trip to Buckfastleigh was briefly considered in the winner’s enclosure, before those present remembered that track had of course switched from Jepeck’s favoured clockwise configuration to anticlockwise in 2013.
Kayley could confirm one definite immediate plan, however – “Keeping him from Richard!”
A well-backed favourite, Jepeck was not unfancied by the Woollacott raiding party – and one in particular. “Our head lad said on the way down we’d have a double today – this horse and one other”, smiled Kayley Woollacott, adding: “Unfortunately he got the other one wrong!”
By a process of elimination, that “other one” could only have been Robin Will, a warm order to add the Hunt Members contest to the Open Maiden success he gained on his one previous course visit two years ago.
The cutest of waiting rides from John Mathias reaped less reward than it deserved, however, as the combination of a limited response off the bridle after two out and a last-fence error condemned the half-brother of Grand National aspirant Unioniste to a four-length defeat at the hands of Blinding Lights, whose winning rider Matt Hampton doubled his score for the season in the process.
“I was hunting with the Tiverton yesterday, and they were asking me what I was running in the race”, beamed successful owner-trainer Mary Sanderson afterwards, “and I told them it was Blinding Lights. ‘Will it win?’ they asked, and I said it would be a blinding shame if he doesn’t!”
Not that it was always a certainty that the 10-year-old son of a niece of Burrough Hill Lad would still be holding a place in the Sanderson string long enough to record this latest victory for her. “The girls in the yard love him, but I nearly sold him last year – he didn’t pass the vet, though. There’s nothing wrong with him now,” recalled the Calverleigh-based former publican, who further advised that Blinding Lights was “never 100%” during a 2013-14 campaign tempered by issues with backside muscles and an abscess in the mouth.
A neck second to Turthen under the same rider in the 2013 renewal of the same race, having made every yard in the hands of the now-conditional Kieran Edgar twelve months before that, Blinding Lights’ success constituted an eighth in the Tiverton Members for Sanderson in just 15 seasons.
However, the gelding still has some way to go to emulate former stable star Jabiru, winner of the same race five times between 2001 and 2006; and nor is he ever likely to effect quite the same sort of boilover as achieved by 2008 scorer Hollandia, winner of a three-runner renewal at odds of 50-1!
No less celebrated a finisher in the Members race following a wholly respectable 27l fifth on Weston Lodge, 52-year-old first-time rider Alex Muirhead returned to the paddock to a rapturous reception from friends and well-wishers… and to the challenge cup (swiftly filled with champagne) for the first resident in the Tiverton Foxhounds country to pass the post.
Resplendent in tartan-apeing red and green diamond-patterned silks during the race and the ceremonial headgear and coat of his beloved City Of Exeter Pipes and Drums after it, the veteran debutant – a chandler by trade – had not wanted for expert tutelage from the likes of Rodi Greene and (brother-in-law) Jamie Osborne ahead of this realisation of a long-held dream.
Robin Will’s reverse in the opener was the first of two for John Mathias in the opening couple of races, with joint-favourite Shanks A Bunch producing the shortest-lived of threats before weakening right out under the Welshman in the Restricted that followed.
That could hardly have lain in starker contrast to fellow jolly, the Will Biddick-partnered Bien Connu, whose effort in repelling Mangans Turn (Josh Newman) to lead home a Jack Barber-trained one-two betrayed no evidence whatsoever of the mammoth 38-month absence which had preceded it.
Last seen running away with a Thames Valley Club Maiden at the sadly now-dormant Tweseldown in December 2011, and turning out here for only the third time in his life, the Bienamado gelding’s effort understandably had connections beaming afterwards. “That’s very pleasing. He’d not been quite right any previous year that we’d brought him back in, but he’s been better this time around, having come back in September,” explained Barber, the current National Trainer’s Championship leader. “He had a leg, and it’s just taken time with him – firing, a long time off, and a lot of work.”
In light of Bien Connu’s protracted previous absence, it would not surprise were short-term aspirations for the nine-year-old not to have extended beyond returning cold legs the following morning.
Present to shout on John Mathias from the sidelines, win or lose, proud father Philip also found time to impart a little further information on the new course at Llwyndau Farm, the venue for this year’s Banwen Miners Point on Monday, May 4th following the sale of the previous Pentreclwydau site.
“[BHA course inspector] Peter Hobbs and I walked the course the other week, and it’s very encouraging – the grass cover will be good, and it’s really a better site than we could have dared hope for at such short notice. The landowners are completely on board, and so proactive in getting things in place between each planning meeting.” Mathias explained of a site located around five miles west of Pentreclywdau.
As to the layout? “It’s sort of a d-shaped 1m1f circuit, and quite flat, with a straight home run and a bend in the back straight. I’d think it would lend itself better to being left-handed, but that’s to be decided.”
Fifth place was the best that Silver Token could manage in the Mixed Open on this card twelve months earlier, but the combination this time around of a drop back in class, plus the assistance of emerging talent Harry Cobden, proved just what the Silver Patriarch gelding required to land a first Pointing success in over two years in the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Novice Riders’ event. Sent closer at the start of the final circuit, the 10-year-old grey finally wore down the gallant Ladyvie (Hannah Welch) in the final 75 yards, following a good tussle over the final two fences.
For the Lydford-on-Fosse based Cobden, 16, victory here represented a first success between the flags on only his third attempt, as well as an altogether happier experience than a slip and unseat from Cock Of The Rock on his Pointing debut at Wadebridge two weeks earlier. “He was hopping mad after that,” recalled self-described “long suffering mum” Sarah, proudly watching on along with the rider’s grandmother Gill and Rules trainer Anthony Honeyball.
Active in pony racing since the age of nine, and the winner of – by his own reckoning – no fewer than 33 events in that sphere, Cobden schooled at Sexey’s in Bruton until turning 16 last November. “He came out of school early – you’ll have the Schools Service on us!” laughed Sarah. In actual fact her son remains in education, combining home tutorials with five weekday morning shifts for principal employer Honeyball and Wednesday afternoons spent riding out for David Brace.
Cobden has plenty for which to thank the last-named, in particular; “He was pony racing in Ireland last October, when Mr Brace approached him and asked if he’d like to work for him,” Sarah continued. Already qualified by Brace this term with the Llangeinor, the well-established duo of Cock Of The Rock (jointly owned by Harry and granny) and Silver Token (owned by the current trainer of both horses, Honeyball’s partner Rachael Green) look well bought if intended to help the rookie realise his stated ambition of becoming the champion Novice Rider – between them, the duo withstood 19 hunt race outings in 2013-14.
Another partner of a licensed trainer to oblige on the afternoon was Pat Bryant, handler of the Pointers at his and Caroline Keevil’s Motcombe base and on the mark here with the Philip Thomas-ridden General Girling in division one of the Open Maiden.
Winless in 15 starts under Rules for Keevil and latterly rated as low as 73 over hurdles, the son of General Gambul has taken a far greater shine to the discipline of Pointing and entered this contest on the back of three second places from as many recent starts, two up on Salisbury Plain. “If he can go that close at Larkhill, he ought to win something,” laughed breeder Jane Girling, present to see the homebred she has loaned back to the yard’s racing club for the season break his duck at last.
“He jumped well enough over hurdles, but we tried him once in a chase and he was much too careful,” continued Keevil, adding: “He’s also not always known for his resolution, but he showed a lot of guts today.” That comment could just as readily apply to his partner, as the crowding from eventual runner-up Just Imagine It up the run-in cowed neither General Girling nor Philip Thomas out of converting the winning opportunity. Formerly based with John Joseph Murphy and Caroline Hobbs before joining the Keevil-Bryant axis, 30-year-old Thomas was recording a third Pointing victory.
“I’m happy with that – it’s the ideal start,” summarised Poundsgate handler Simon Partridge after a clever ride by Darren Edwards secured stable star Lucette Annie the TBA Countryside Alliance Mares’ and Fillies’ event for the second year running.
The competition had a thinner look about it with last year’s runner-up Popaway sent to contest the afternoon’s equivalent contest at Higham this time around, and the 4-9 favourite was not overly taxed in recording a clever 2.5l success over the Hannah Welch-partnered Romney Marsh (the rider’s second runner’s-up finish inside 40 minutes).
A winner every season since 2010, and running in the colours this year of Clare West as well as longstanding owner Janet Humphrey, the daughter of Alflora made light of conditions (officially good to soft) just a touch drier than preferred. “I’d like to take in a hunter chase with her again this season, but she’d need cut in the ground for that,” Partridge reasoned, “though we do get away with it on quicker ground in Points.” A ninth career visit to her local stomping ground of Buckfastleigh is in the offing before anything else, however: “It comes nicely for her in three weeks’ time, so I don’t suppose we’ll see her out again before then.”
Lucette Annie won’t be the only representative from the Partridge yard between the flags this season. “I have a five-year-old youngster called Sandy Park set to debut in Maidens – he’s been following Lucette Annie up the gallops. Blue Abbey [an 11-year-old maiden half-brother to Asian Maze and Quantitativeeasing] is still with us and still chasing her up the gallops, too!”
“I am so chuffed with that ride – that’s just what she needed,” enthused owner Julia Batho on greeting the returning Midnights’mischief, punched out by James Jeavons to land the second leg of the Open Maiden at the expense of odds-on shot Porlock Bay (Darren Edwards).
Head girl to Alastair Ralph this season, Batho had insisted to her current boss that Midnights’mischief, a mare she’d acquired in 2011 as a three-year-old, made the trip up to the Downton Estate north of Ludlow with her as part of the arrangement. “I said, ‘I’ll bring my horse with me if that’s alright, but she isn’t very good.’ She’s a bit better than that now!”
A tenure with Nick Williams had preceded the move to Ralph, but whilst there Batho struggled to get her daughter of Midnight Legend fit enough to do herself justice on the racetrack, as perhaps evidenced by pulled-up efforts at Kilworthy and Trebudannon last spring.
Before that, the 37-year-old had worked for Tor Collins prior to the latter’s own move to Shropshire from the Sandhurst Area, and whilst based there had recorded her one win as a race-rider in the 2009 Hampshire Hunt Members race at Hackwood Park on Lord Alpha, a horse she trained herself for Anthony Ward-Thomas. The Batho connection to Collins endures up to a point through Midnights’mischief, whose dam Pipes A’Calling foaled her after winning a Godstone Mares’ Maiden for that handler in 2007.
Although the commencement of the Welsh Borders Area season remains a good few weeks off, a busy time is assured for Batho and all working for Alastair Ralph before then, as the now former assistant trainer to Henry Daly begins to unleash the yard’s big guns such as John Corbet Cup third Following Dreams. “Alastair’s got about 11 or 12 Pointers in this year; a few young ones, but not too many maidens. One less maiden now, in fact!”
Midnights’mischief was a first ride for the Ralph yard this season for James Jeavons, 24, and a second winner for him all told. The Sarah-Jayne Davies/Jeremy Mahot-trained Upton Centurion in a PPORA Novice Riders race at Brampton Bryan last April was the first, and he hopes to be riding for that operation as well as for Hannah James and for Ralph this term.
Porlock Bay’s second to Midnights’mischief thus left Pointing Plus columnist and Attheraces host Luke Harvey having fared two places better than brother Dominic’s Hunt Members fourth Lightening Jack, but at the same time still bereft of the victory he’d hoped to tease out of his Dr Massini gelding before taking in a skiing holiday a few days later.
No matter. “I love this sport, and hailing from barely five miles away I love being here at Chipley,” Harvey beamed whilst warming down Porlock Bay in the box park after racing. “You couldn’t get me to go racing on a day off, but I’d do this any day of the week. This is the longest I’ve gone without a beer all day, though!”
Prior to watching his charge Tucumcari finish unplaced in the Intermediate, handler Norman Thomas had clasped your writer by the hand on their first meeting for nearly three years and exclaimed, “I thought you were dead!” It’s always nice to be able to dispel a rumour…
Two fantastic pony races kick off the card at the Mid Devon Point to Point at Black Forest Lodge, Sunday Feb 1st at 11am. There is a full line up, 10 strong field in the 138cm and under, and nine entered in the 148cm and under.
The main card starts at 12 noon, with seven races scheduled and 100 entries received. In the Farmers-sponsored Confined race the Keith Cumings-trained Whenharrymetsally is entered, is unbeaten in four runs, including a win at this track in December, until slipping up at Wadebridge on her last run. Sweet My Lord from the Robert Chanin team is another to stand out among the entries, having won at Wadebridge earlier this month under jockey Tom Chanin. Also entered is Thinkaboutthat who has shown some decent form and ran well at Larkhill before fading two out.
Bovey Castle sponsor the Men’s Open in which the highly rated, Alan Hill-trained Harbour Court also holds entries at Horseheath and Milborn St Andrew this weekend. Double Bank from the Emma Oliver team took the Men’s Open at Wadebridge in December and followed that win up with a close second in a Hunter Chase at Taunton earlier this month, he looks the likely favourite having been a previous course winner here. Welstonedruid is another who could step up to the challenge having won here at the last meeting.
Tozers sponsor the Ladies Open, in which the prolific winning gelding Byerley Bear is entered, as is his stable mate Ned White. The ground could be a deciding factor as to which one runs, with Ned White preferring the dryer ground, having made all here last January, to destroy his field by twenty lengths for owner Jacqui Elliott. Iron Chancellor from the Sue Popham yard could be a challenger here, another previous course winner, but may need the run.
The Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate race has attracted a good strong entry of 13. The progressive ICTHEC won his Maiden here in November and then took the Restricted race at Larkhill when dead heating with Jepeck. Based on that form ICTHEC could run well again for trainer/jockey Peter Mason. Full Throttle found top gear here when taking the Restricted at the last meeting, for trainer Laura Thomas. The Kayley Woollacott entry Devon General cannot be left out of the equation, with the yard sending out winners thick and fast. This race is sponsored by Denese Molyneaux Financial Planning.
In the Subaru-sponsored Restricted series race, the Nicola Martin-trained Sonoftheking won well at Wadebridge under jockey Darren Edwards. Another entry Johnny No Cash, trained by Nikki Frost, ran well last season and looked to have needed the run when held at Wadebridge under jockey Hannah Welch. This race is a qualifier for the £10,000 Subaru final to be held at Stratford racecourse on 29th May.
Two divisions of the Open Maiden follow, in the first division suggestion could be Miss Weld, The Mystro and Stop The Press. In the second division, Love The Leader catches the eye, having run fourth in Ireland, and is owned/trained by Bloodstock Agent Tom Malone. Stony Road ran second here at the January meeting behind Genermouse, and looks promising. These races are sponsored by Mr R Stuart Jervis and Mr & Mrs M Eldridge.
On course facilities include hot refreshments, bar, bookies and trade stands. Location is Kenton, nr Exeter of A380. EX6 8HR.
Entrance is £10 per person up to £30 per car. Pedestrians £10.
Met Office 5 day forecast: Exe Estuary, 2.7 miles from EX6 8HR at the same altitude
The Point-to-Point season is starting to hot up, and this weekends scheduled meeting is to be hosted by The Silverton Hunt at the popular Black Forest Lodge track, on Sunday Jan 18. There are seven races on the card and over 120 entries have been received.
Best West Tiverton Hotel sponsor the Confined race which heads up the action at 12 noon. Of the 17 entries, Bradley Brook could be sent off favorite if connections choose to run him here. Leaving him out of the equation could result in a dual between ex Victor Dartnall-trained Mic’s Delight, who ran well at the last meeting for novice jockey Jennifer Davenport, and course specialist Welstonedruid who was held in fourth that day.
The Simpkins Edwards-sponsored Restricted race has 23 entered in which Full Throttle had recently scored a second in a Restricted at Cottenham for trainer Laura Thomas. Themanfromcork is another to hold claims, having clocked up his maiden win at Larkhill in December under reigning National champion jockey Will Biddick, for winning owner/trainer Heidi Tinkler.
The Ladies Open sponsored by Belinda Burgess, looks to be hotly contested with familiar names such as the veteran That’s Rythm who has ten Hunter Chase wins, and four Point wins, which include the Ladies race at Chaddesley Corbett last month under jockey Page Fuller. The unbeaten Alan Hill-trained Sharp Suit was the winner of the Connollys Red Mills Hunter Chase final, and the in form Byerley Bear who has already clocked up a double so far this season at Wadebridge for the Robert Chanin team, are among the thirteen entered. Foundry Square is another entry with some solid form behind him, and would be worth noting in the betting ring.
In the Bonhams Men’s Open, Baresi who won the Ladies Open here in November is entered along with prolific point winner Coombe Hill, who also has four Hunter Chase wins to his credit including wins at Cheltenham and Wincanton and is now in training with Chris Honour. Patricktom Boru scored at this course last season, and the twelve year old Rosies Peacock has an impressive 22 Point-to-Point wins for breeder/owner/trainer David Llewellyn including a Lady’s Dudley Cup and could put up another impressive challenge here.
The Open maiden races have already been divided, the first division is sponsored by Wilkinson Grant, in this the Sarah Tickle-trained Way Before Dawn has been knocking at the door of a win, and could improve here on his third at the November meeting. Another entry, Nortonthorpelegend, from the Ollie Greenall team had shown ability when third at Garthorpe last season.
The second division is sponsored by Devon Fuels, Loves Blind ran well at the November meeting here when a close third behind Jepeck and Captain Camelot. Also entered is the Gordon Edwards-trained Briefcase who hinted at ability when fourth at Larkhill.
The Intermediate looks just as competitive with 16 entries, with the ones that catch the eye being the Keith Cumings-trained Little Cornham, the two Kayley Woollacott entries, Devon General and King Cash, and Supreme Danehill who under jockey Darren Edwards, ran second behind Raffa at the Wadebridge meeting in December, had previously finished third here at the November meeting behind the Mythologist and Mister Teddy.
On course facilities include hot refreshments, bar, bookies and trade stands. Course side disabled parking. Entrance is £10 per head to max £30, children under 16 free. Course is located at Kenton nr Exeter Postcode EX6 8HR.
Met Office 5 day forecast: Exe Estuary, 2.7 miles from EX6 8HR at the same altitude