“Dull November brings the blast, when the leaves are whirling fast” – from the poem The Garden Year by Sara Coleridge 1802 – 1852: She was the only daughter of one of the most famous English poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was born at Ottery St Mary in 1772. He died in 1834 so didn’t get to watch any point-to-points at Bishops Court just outside the town, which opened in 1979.
Actually, very pleasant mild Autumn weather prevailed as the Devon & Cornwall area opened the new British point-to-point season at Ottery on softish ground before a sizeable crowd. The afternoon featured riding doubles for Josh Newman and Bradley Gibbs, plus training doubles for Kayley Woollacott and David Brace.
Newman took the opening two and a half miles Open Maiden for four to six-year-olds with a comfortable win on board ex-hurdler The Kings Writ. This rangy six-year-old is owned by David and Steph Stevens and is now in the yard of trainer Kayley Woollacott. “This is one of the couple I nicked off Richard (Woollacott). He was a bit bouncy but outjumped his rivals,” commented the trainer, who confirmed that 25-year-old Josh Newman, a Cheltenham festival winning rider on Midnight Prayer in the 2014 National Hunt Chase, will have the stable rides this season.
It didn’t take long for the successful trainer/rider combination to follow up, thanks to a sound display of jumping from Pointview Gale in winning the three miles Open Maiden. This sturdy ex-Irish gelding drew right away from his opponents after his nearest pursuer Druid Spitfire fell at the second last fence. The eight-year-old runs in the colours of Kayley’s father Martyn and stepmother Nicky Jones. “He jumped his way there and all he does is jump and gallop,” remarked the Rose Ash trainer.
Welsh pointers invariably do well at the early season Devon & Cornwall meetings, and the enforced late switch of this traditional opening fixture from Black Forest Lodge to Ottery St Mary, proved no exception. Colorado Doc (Conditions Race) and Doc Cody (Restricted) each rewarded supporters from over the Severn Bridge in the hands of 25-year-old jockey Bradley Gibbs. These promising six-year- olds are owned and trained by their Pyle, Bridgend based breeder David Brace. Colorado Doc was given a positive front running ride to hold off fellow Welsh traveller War Path (Hannah Lewis) in the quickest time of the day. “He ran a bit freely early on but is a nice young horse who could have the Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow as his target.” said David Brace, who stood the sire of the winning pair, the now deceased Dr Massini. The Dunraven Bowl hunter chase is sponsored by the winning owner who went on to take the Restricted with his equally talented six-year-old Doc Cody.
The well backed favourite Champione proved a disappointing come back ride for Nick Williams in this event, in which four of the seven-strong field held Welsh certificates. Doc Cody was sent on by Bradley Gibbs two out, and readily drew clear of the only other finisher Minella Mojo round the final bend. “Doc Cody’s dam Brydferth Ddu, which means Black Beauty, won a Maiden for us and has also bred our winning pointer Bob The Butcher,” explained the owner.
Will Biddick has been playing down his chances of adding to his six Men’s National titles, but quickly got on the scoreboard for the new season as Moreece strode clear to take the Exeter racecourse Intermediate qualifier.
This was yet another Welsh success, since the winner hails from the Pyle yard of Jonathan Lean. “He is only 15.2 but is a little dynamite we had out of Tim Vaughan’s yard,” said owner Sherree Lean, who has her eye on one of the Intermediate finals later in the season.
Top Wood was formerly a useful performer having won over hurdles and fences for David Pipe, and justified strong market support for new connections to win a decent 12–runner Mixed Open. The winner shook off the attentions of runner up William Money, a second ever race ride for 16-year-old Connor Brace, to score convincingly in the end. The Wealerdealer and The Dapper Fox caught the eye here, staying on well from impossible positions in the closing stages.
Ten-year-old Top Wood is now owned by Johny Weatherby, having been purchased for £15,000 at Ascot sales earlier this year. He is now one of four pointers in the care of Kelly Morgan near Oakham, Rutland. “The change of scenery has probably helped. He can be very keen but a bit quirky and he settled and jumped exceptionally today,” reported the East Midlands based trainer. Talented rider 25-year-old Sam Davies-Thomas, pupil assistant to Dan Skelton, had the mount on the winner.
1 The Mexican Bandit (Josh Guerriero) 2-1 fav
2 On Your Max (Robbie Henderson) 5-2
3 The cat’s Away (Will Biddick) 5-2
8 ran; 1/2l; neck; 5m 57s
Trainer: Keith Cumings
Ladies’ Open (Bray Leino)
1 Join Togwether (Megan Nicholls) 4-7 fav
2 Ned White (Leanda Tickle) 9-1
3 Print The Money (Sarah Dennis) 9-1
12 ran; 4l; 4l; 5m 44s
Trainer: Rose Loxton
Men’s Open (Moore Scarrott)
1 Coombe Hill (Darren Edwards) 3-1
2 Round Tom (Will Biddick) 6-4 fav
3 Cottage Acre (Michael Heard) 14-1
14 ran; 1l; 2l; 5m 50s
Trainer Charlotte Fear
Intermediate (Ashley Farrant & the Kingdon family)
1 Glenwood Present (Joshua Newman) 16-1
2 Devon General (Jake Bament) 4-1
3 Colley Row (James Tudor) 3-1 co fav
12 ran; 1l; 1/2l; 5m 58s
Trainer; Tanya Taylor
Division 1(The Old Station House Inn)
1 O’Flo (Bryony Frost) 7-4 jt fav
2 Crackacan (Darren Edwards) 7-4 jt fav
3 Grey Dream (David Noonan) 15-2
11 ran; 3l; 3l; 6m 1s
Trainer: Carol Lawrence
“It was estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 people attended and there were over 500 cars in the car park. The many police officers on duty were in their new summer dress – collar and ties. The sun shone brightly for the whole afternoon.” 2012 – no, the year was in fact 1949 but plenty of similarities. This newspaper cutting formed a part of the excellent display of photographs and memorabilia on show at Stafford Cross depicting the past 65 years of the Axe Vale point-to-point races.
This produced one of the most extraordinary results of the season with the unconsidered outsider Clew Bay Cove giving his young rider the first success of his career. I think we had all forgotten what a different track Stafford Cross is compared with many courses in the area which demand stamina. The shorter, sharp Axe Vale course was certainly more to the liking of speed merchants on Saturday, and Clew Bay Cove found it right up his street. The winner raced alongside Gunner Be Quick from the fourth last, and the pair shook off Direct Flight and the odds-on favourite Benetwood from the second last. Clew Bay Cove got on top of his rival with 75 yards to run and held on gamely under his 19-year-old owner/rider Dominic Furnell in a race taking well under six minutes. In some areas of the country point-to-point bookmakers impose an upper odds limit by operating as a cartel. Fortunately the Devon & Cornwall layers do not act in this way and outsiders are priced as outsiders – in the case of Clew Bay Cove 200-1 was freely available on more than one board. Although the 12-year-old gelding had failed to score for over four years, he had useful form in Ireland in his younger days, winning five times for leading owner JP McManus. The winning jockey said, “I rode in 15 or 20 points and a few bumpers without success in Ireland and bought Clew Bay Cove for only 500 euros out of his previous stable. He ran three times in Ireland at the beginning of this season before I came over to work for Lucy Wiegersma at Hatherleigh.” I train my horse from there and Lucy’s father has been very helpful to me.
Another young jockey partnered his first winner here as Jamie Bargary scorched home on four-year-old Bathwick Scanno. This former David Pipe trained gelding was also the first winner saddled by Teresa Clark who is based at Broomfield on the Quantocks. Bathwick Scanno jumped his way to the front at the fifth fence and was not hard pressed to hold off the late run of Rock of Fife. “He was running away with me,” exclaimed the 18-year-old jockey who comes from Cashel, County Tipperary and works in the Pipe yard. He has only had a handful of rides but is taking himself off to France for further experience in the summer with French champion National Hunt trainer Francois Coutin. Bathwick Scanno is by the top American dirt stallion Aptitude. He was placed on the flat and over hurdles and seems to have a preference for quick ground.
Recent Cothelstone winners Ashclyst and Allerford Jack squared up to each other with Ashclyst, who had recorded a much quicker time on that occasion, sent off 11-8 favourite here under Tom Chanin. Richard Woollacott was content to sit quietly on Allerford Jack who had plenty of support at 5-2, as Ashclyst blazed the trail. The distress signals were out for the favourite entering the home straight however, and Allerford Jack jumped ahead at the final fence. John Daniell and Sam’s Lad passed the favourite for the minor places on the flat. Richard Woollacott has recently obtained his trainers licence and his partner Kayley Jones has taken over the pointto-point side of the yard. Kayley was initiating a double with this winner who was scoring for the fourth time this season. “We will probably keep him going until the end of the season,” said Kayley
My Runaway completed the training double for Kayley Jones, this time ridden by Robbie Henderson. Blinkered for the first time, My Runaway was a solid 3-1 second favourite behind Gone That Way who was marginally preferred in the market at 5-2. The favourite fought for the lead with Florence Mary and Wassonthen, but My Runaway always had that trio in his sights and took command at the second last. Gone Thaty ran well to finish second with Dalmatian keeping on to take third spot. Despite being backed from 10’s to 5’s, Wassonthen faded badly in the latter stages and eventually finished in about the same place as Engelbert Humperdinck in the song contest.
Rilly Goschen’s mount Tenawa looked to be going nowhere leaving the back straight as Tork to Me and Amber Love went on. The situation changed however as Tenawa fought back to head the leaders shortly after jumping the last, and the ten-year-old mare showed plenty of guts on the run-in to hold Amber Love (Darren Edwards) with Googoobarabajagal and Michael Heard staying on into third place. Home bred by her owner/trainer Jane Wilkinson from Ibberton near Sturminster Newton, Tenawa used to be a bit of a handful in her younger days She could not have a better rider however than Rilly, who, if she will forgive me, is at the veteran stage. With over a century of point-to-point winners to her credit, a National Hunt amateur ladies’ championship and a Cheltenham Foxhunters (2004) in her CV, Amaryllis Goschen represents the best example of a woman rider.
It was the turn of the younger brigade with Oxfordshire schoolboy Joe Hill securing his ninth winner in his first season thanks to the useful Ravethebrave. Joe has an unassailable lead for the Wilkinson Sword Trophy for under 21 riders and is well in contention for the National Novice Riders’ title. Ravethebrave proved a cut above his four rivals here. Tres Bien (Josh Newman) just deprived Doof of the runner-up spot but they were only playing for places behind Alan Hill’s expensive Doncaster sales purchase who was winning his fourth novice riders’event of the season. Hill the younger has a long term ambition to train, but meanwhile gets back to his school desk with four more GCSE exams to come during the week.