I cannot remember an earlier start to a British pointing season. Old timers will recall the days we had to wait until February, but the autumn weather did its best to welcome us to the excellent venue of Ottery St Mary.
So pleasant weather, lovely surroundings and softish ground put a smile on most peoples’ faces, not to mention four out of six winning favourites.
They went 7-2 the field as the flag went down for the 12-runner opener over two and a half miles with the eventual jolly having been cut from an opening show of 5’s. This was the well made six-year-old The Kings Writ, sweating a little but immaculately turned out as usual by Kayley Woollacott. The gelding’s hurdling experience, coupled with fitness saw Josh Newman’s mount pulling away from his rivals in the home straight to score by six lengths. Runner up Danseur du Large (steady ay 5’s) and third placed It Has To Be ( 6’s out to 8’s) look sure to atone before long. Two gambles came unstuck here; Gundahar (20’s to 10’) looked fit but faded to finish seventh and Mystic Court (10’s to 5’s) hit the deck at the fourth when leading.
Colorado Doc landed odds of 4-5 in the Conditions race (touched 4-6 and evens in a place). The six-year-old was given a positive front running ride by Bradley Gibbs and never looked like being caught. War Path (8’s touched 9’s) stayed on well to get within shouting distance of the winner. Mic’s Delight (4’s to 5’s) will be better for the race and Silver Token (14’s touched 16’s) gave a splendid introduction to point-to-pointing to 16-year-old Connor Brace in finishing fourth.
Doc Cody (13-8 out to 9-4) completed a double for David Brace and Bradley Gibbs in the Restricted. The relative generosity of the winner’s SP was due to substantial support for fellow Welsh traveller Champione (3’ to evens), a come back ride after three years absence for top point-to-point jockey Nick Williams. After taking the lead approaching the spinney, Nick’s mount stopped quickly before the second last and was pulled up. Minella Mojo (7’s out to 10’s) chased the winner home and can find a Restricted before long. The triple bumper winner Ghost River (solid 3’s) was well beaten when pulled up at the last but is surely capable of better.
The Mixed Open looked a decent race which went to the heavily backed Rutland based favourite Top Wood. “Our first bet was £600-100”, a leading layer told me before the useful ex-chaser was forced down to 2-1 at the off. Kelly Morgan’s charge, who escaped all the penalties for this race, was given a good ride by Sam Davies-Thomas to skate home by eight lengths. William Money (7-2 from 6’s) chased the winner home (what price his young jockey Connor Brace for the Novices title?). The Wealerdealer ( 3’s from 7-2’s) came from off the pace to finish third whilst fourth home The Dapper Fox (12’s to 10’s) came from the next parish to finish with a flourish (probably looking for Black Forest Lodge). He can score again with more positive handling. Of the unplaced horses, the ex-Paul Nicholls trained Keltus couldn’t find a friend in the market (2-1 out to 6-1), and Warwick hunter chase winner Poole Master (5’s out to 10’s) couldn’t get in the race after a bad mistake at half way.
By this time the punters were baying for more blood and duly got it as the bold jumping Pointview Gale (9-4 fav from opening 7-4) sailed home in the three miles Maiden to give Josh Newman and trainer Kayley Woollacott their double. He can win again when upped in class. Druid Spitfire (5’s to 4’s) was chasing the winner when coming down at the penultimate and should find a Maiden this season.
The Welsh faces got it wrong in the last. They went for Desert Roe (9-4 to 6-4 fav). but it was the consistent Moreece (9-2 out to 11-2) who took the prize back over the bridge in the hands of Will Biddick. Runner up Creative Inerta (4’s out to 11-2) will be better for this run. He weakened from two out to finish 20 lengths second.
One of the most heartening sights of the day was to see leading bookie Mike Smith at Ottery after his recovery from serious illness. He will soon be counting his money again.
THREE clear favourites won at Ottery St Mary, but punters generally had the better of the exchanges for most of the afternoon with plenty of other well backed winners.
Emma Watson’s first career winner, Delphi Mountain, was backed at 6’s and 5’s in the opener and looked to have the odds-on favourite Level Spirit (4-7 to 4-5) in trouble when the latter fell at the last when delivering his challenge. The eventual runner up Tamatown (beaten 20 lengths) was a springer from 25’s to 12’s in a weak market.
The winner of the first Maiden, Good Grammar, was easy to back at 9-4 out to 3’s. This good looking seven-year-old is from the family of Best Mate and stayed on well under Nick Williams. The form looks solid enough and placed horses I’m All Set (8’s to 10’s) and Swincombe Scorchio (5-2 out to 7-2) should progress. Money went astray in this contest with Brandy and Red (14’s to 7’s) making several errors before finishing fourth and the disappointing Bertie’s Way‘s (4’s to 2-1 fav) failed to reproduce Wadebridge promise.
I made a personal contribution to bookies profits thanks to thinking that Nick Williams would follow up his win with Boost The Power (5-1) in the other Maiden division. This time the Biddick / Barber machine proved unstoppable thanks to Earthpower (easy to back at 3’s)
The Mixed Open was more predictable with the game Kirkleigh defying his penalty in good style (evens – 11-10 fav). There was money for runner up Fiulin (6’s – 11-2) who ran well and can score when jumping more proficiently. Bellsinni Ron (6-4 – 5-4) was off the bit nearly all the way and seems to need headgear.
Mic’s Delight gave Jennifer Davenport a deserved initial success with a clear cut victory in the Novice Riders’ contest. The combination had threatened to prevail in three previous runs this season and punters who took the 4-6 available at the off were soon forming an orderly queue to collect.
The Jack Barber trained Bien Connu justified 5-4 favouritism in the Intermediate, but Mangan’s Turn (evens fav) , from the same yard, proved no match for Dicky Bob, who drifted from 2’s to a very backable 4’s in the Restricted.
The concluding Maiden for older horses (8 year olds and over) provided easy pickings for the ex-Jonjo O’Neill hurdler Downtown Manhattan. Exmoor trainer Claire Hitch does well with this type of horse and Will Biddick’s mount was not hard pressed to open his account having been supported from 5’s into 3-1,
WILL BIDDICK continued in top form at the East Devon fixture at Ottery St Mary on Saturday (Feb 28), where the rain softened ground rode heavy in places. The Cornish rider followed up his four-timer at Badbury Rings last weekend with a treble which keeps him well ahead of his rivals as he seeks a fourth consecutive National jockeys’ title.
Biddick teamed up with leading trainer Jack Barber to steer Roger Penny’s Earthpower home to a narrow success in a section of the Open Maiden for four to seven-year-olds. Pippa Glanville’s bold front running efforts on Miss Weld looked like paying off, but Biddick brought Earthpower through to challenge at the last, and drove his mount ahead on the run in. “This is the first winner I have trained for Mr Penny. He is a nice type by Milan and was lightly raced last year. He had a wind op in the summer,” said the young handler, who took over the promising gelding when his grandfather Richard Barber retired at the end of last season.
The Barber / Biddick combination struck again when Bien Connu made all the running to take the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate qualifier. This nine-year-old is quickly making up for lost time after a three-years absence, having scored on his comeback run at Chipley Park last month. “This was the plan today to qualify him for the Exeter final,” stated the Henley, Crewkerne trainer. “We had to virtually re-break him when he came in after his long absence. He can be a bit of a monkey and Josh Newman rides him every day,” added Jack.
Will Biddick achieved his hat trick and did what A P McCoy failed to do on Downtown Manhattan in the eight-year-olds and over Open Maiden. The soon to retire champion McCoy failed to reach the frame twice on Downtown Manhattan when the eight-year-old was in training with Jonjo O’Neill, but the well backed Presenting gelding relished the very soft underfoot conditions here under Biddick to beat the John Mathias ridden It’s My Island in the 10-runner field.
Claire Hitch sent out Downtown Manhattan to score from her Exmoor yard, and almost secured a four-timer for Biddick as another of her charges, I’m All Set, just went under in a driving finish in a section of the Open Maiden. This event went to the Welsh challenger Good Grammar who prevailed by a length under a powerful ride by Nick Williams.
Two Devon based jockeys rode their first winners on an action packed afternoon. Delphi Mountain gave 26-year-old Emma Watson her initial success in the well supported Hunt race. Emma did not panic when Robbie Henderson delivered his challenge on odds-on favourite Level Spirit rounding the final bend, and still held a slight lead when the challenger came down at the last. “We bought Delphi Mountain out of Richard Woollacott’s yard and he is owned by my boyfriend Christopher Pike. I work at Culmstock for Stuart Sampson and train the horse myself,” said Emma who was having only her fifth race ride.
Jennifer Davenport opened her account on Mic’s Delight, a horse she also owns and trains in the Novice Riders’ contest. “He came from Victor Dartnall and this horse is a gentleman, an absolute delight and he looks after me,” enthused Jennifer, 33, who is a vet with the South Moor Veterinary practice at Modbury.
It was good to see Jo Buck back in the winner’s enclosure as the strapping grey Dicky Bob, owned and trained by Verity Nicholls was given a positive ride by Jo to open her account for the season when beating Molly Oscar by 10 lengths in the Restricted. “He stays really well and has thrived since he won at Buckfastleigh,” said Verity.
Sue Trump’s useful 10-year-old Kirkleigh defied his 7lbs penalty to take the Mixed Open. The popular Silverton qualified gelding had also been successful at Buckfastleigh two weeks previously (today’s winners Mic’s Delight and Delphi Mountain were behind him on that occasion). Once again forcing the pace and jumping soundly, Kirkleigh (Tom Chanin) shrugged off the challenge of Fiulin and drew away after jumping the last. “We will look at a hunter chase at Chepstow next where he will probably get his favoured soft ground,” remarked trainer Robert Chanin.
1 Good Grammer (Nick Williams) 3-1 held up, led 15th, all out
2 I’m All Set (Will Biddick) 10-1 effort 2 out, ran on well
3 Swincombe Scorchio (Robbie Henderson) 7-2 left 3rd 2 out, kept on well
8 ran; 1l; 1 1/2l; 6m 58s
Owner: C Williams; Trainer Dean Coleman
1 Earthpower (Will Biddick) 3-1 went 2nd 15th, dvn to lead flat
2 Miss Weld (Pippa Glanville) 8-1 led til hdd flat
3 Upto Ollie (Leanda Tickle) 10-1 not trbl ldrs, stayed on clsg stgs
9 ran; 1 1/2l; 6l; 6m 57s
Owner Roger Penny; Trainer Jack Barber
Mixed Open (Michael Pidsley, Devonshire Straw Man)
1 Kirkleigh (Tom Chanin) 11-10 Fav made most, stayed on strongly
2 Fiulin (Robbie Henderson) 11-2 good hdwy 3 out. ev ch til no ex apprg last
3 Bellsinni Ron (Will Biddick) 5-4 hdwy under press 4 out, not trbl ldrs
8 ran; 2 1/4l; 8l; 6m 50s
Owner Mrs Sue Trump; Trainer Robert Chanin
1 Bien Connu (Will Biddick) 5-4 Fav made all, hit 13th, ran on strongly flat
2 Turtle Boys (Ben Clarke) 16-1 went 3rd 3 out, challd ldr next, wknd flat
3 King Kash (Jamie Thomas) 12-1 disp ld 1st circuit, lost place 15, kept on agn nr finish
6 ran; 6l; 15l; 6m 53s
Owner: Peckmoor Partnership; Trainer Jack Barber
1 Mic’s Delight (Jennifer Davenport) 4-6 Fav made all, stayed on gamely
2 Knight Blaze (Nick Lawton) 5-1 prom, chased ldr from 2 out
3 Weston Lodge (Alex Muirhead) 12-1 late hdwy to take 3rd flat
7 ran; 7l; 15l; 6m 58s
Owner Jennifer Davenport; Trainer Jennifer Davenport
1 Dicky Bob (Jo Buck) 4-1 handy, took lead apprg last, comf
2 Molly Oscar (John Mathias) 14-1 prom. Led 14th til hdd & no extra apprg last
3 Sparkling Miss (Michael Legg) 6-1 midfield, not reach ldrs
6 ran; 10l; 7l; 6m 46s
Owner Verity Nicholls; Trainer Verity Nicholls
1 Downtown Manhattan (Will Biddick) 3-1 made virtually all, hard pressed 2 out, ran on
2 It’s My Island (John Mathias) 7-2 stdy prog 14th, challd 2 out, no extra apprg last
3 Beady Eye (Jason Kiely) 20-1 with ldr til wknd 15th
10 ran; 2 3/4l; distance; 7m 1s
Owner Hillbilly Partnership; Trainer Claire Hitch
“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…
The betting ring at Black Forest was particularly strong with 15 bookies providing a competitive market.
• Punters got off to a good start with Welstonedruid (11-4 to 5-2 fav) squeezing home by a short head in front of Mic’s Delight (9-1 to each way money).
• What About Will (9’s to 8’s) kept jumping to the left in the first of the divided Restricted, but still had 15 lengths in hand at the post. He can score again on a left hand track. Welsh cash was seen for the Nick Williams ridden Kerry Mganga (8’s to 6’s) but his effort was short lived. He should win a Restricted back in Wales.
• Vilja was backed from 12-1 to 8-1 in the other Restricted division but fell at the 11th fence when lying second. She is in a good yard and is worth another chance. The finish concerned the two at the top of the market with Full Throttle (11-10 out to 9-4) atoning for his unlucky fall at Cottenham in beating the favourite Soixante Six (2-1 to 13-8)
• Steeltown was well supported from 5-1 to 7-2 in a high class Men’s Open and ran extremely well. He was pegging back the winner Coombe Hill (strong at 7-2) near the finish, with former Lady Dudley Cup winner Rosies Peacock (5-2 into 2-1 fav) finishing a creditable third.
• According To Harry (5-1 to 4-1) had fallen at Wadebridge last week after a promising third at the showground in a race which is working out well before Christmas. With the in-form Darren Edwards giving him a perfect waiting ride, this promising six-year-old just denied Swingbridge (3-1 fav) in yet another race which had to be divided on the day.
• Bookies got some expenses back in the other division of the Maiden when Genermouse (33-1 and not a friend in sight) put in an exhilarating round of jumping to score under Joshua Newman.
• Infamous Grouse provided another shock in division two of the maiden. This big gelding started at 12-1 but had been seen at 20’s and it was left to Darren Edwards to follow in the hoof prints of his previous two winners.
* As it got colder the number of punters dwindled. Only the needy and the greedy (including me) lingered around for the final event of a long afternoon. Two of the eight Intermediate runners were offered at 66-1, but it was the Llangeinor qualified Repeat Business (5-2 to 7-4) who took the prize across the Severn bridge to Wales.
1 Welstonedruid (Ian Chanin) 5-2 fav prom. led 14, ran on strongly, just held on
2 Mic’s Delight (Jennifer Davenport) 9-1 in touch, chased winner from 14. ro well flat, just failed
3 Bradley Brook (Darren Edwards) 5-1 held up, stayed on from 3 out
14 ran; short head; 1 1/2l; 6 mins 26 secs
Owner Andrew & Sue Knox; Trainer: Robert Chanin
1 What About Will (Vicky Wade) 8-1 made all, jumped left. drew clr 2 out
2 Kerry Mganga (Nick Williams) 7-1 chased ldrs, effort 3 out, no extra apprg last
3 Bamboleo (Will Telfer) 33-1 lost place 12, ran on agn clsg stgs, took 3rd close home
10 ran; 15l’; 20l; 6m 41s
Owner Keith Wade; Trainer Neil Harris
1 Full Throttle (Sam Painting) 9-4 led 12, asserted 2 out, kept on
2 Soixante Six (Tom Weston) 13-8 fav held up, hdwy 14, cl 2nd 3 out – next, not quicken flat
3 Sparkling Miss (Michael Legg) 12-1 improved 14, effort 3 out, wknd next
11 ran; 1 1/2l; 15l; 6m 31s
Owner Norman Thomas Trainer Laura Thomas
1 Byerley Bear (Leanda Tickle) 8-11 fav led til hdd briefly 3 out, led agn next, ran on strongly
2 Foundry Square (Gina Andrews) 2-1 effort 4 out, every chance 2 out, no extra last
3 Catspan (Hannah Lewis) 14-1 tracked ldr, slt ld 3 out, outpaced after next
6 ran; 3l; 2l; 6m 37s
Owner Roger Knowles; Trainer Robert Chanin
1 Coombe Hill (Darren Edwards) 7-2 hdwy 4 out, cl 3rd 2 out, led apprg last, held on well
2 Steeltown (Jamie Thomas) 7-2 led 12, clear til pressed 3 out, hdd apprg last, rallied flat, just held
3 Rosie’s Peacock (John Mathias) 2-1 fav went 2nd 12, close up & every chance til hampered & wknd apprg last
11 ran; head; 4l; 6m 35s
Owner Geoff Thompson; Trainer Chris Honour
1 According To Harry (Darren Edwards) 4-1 held up & bhd, gd hdwy 4 out, chall 2 out, led last, all out
2 Swingbridge (Sam Painting) 3-1 fav took ld 4 out, slt ld 2 out, hdd last, rallied nr post
3 The Mystro (Will Biddick) 7-2 midfield, some hdwy 3 out, not reach ldrs
10 ran; short head; 20l; 6m 45s
Owner The Bradley Partnership; Trainer Nicky Martin
Division 1 Part 2
1 Genermouse (Josh Newman) 33-1 led 9, jumped well, stayed on gamely when pressed from 3 out
2 Stony Road (Charlotte Prichard) 5-1 rear, hdwy to chall 4 out, sustained chall from 2 out, no ex flat
3 Wivannie (Bryony Frost) 3-1 led til 8, lost place, ran on agn clsg stgs
9 ran; 2l; 15l; 6m 46s
Owner: Michael dare; Trainer Chloe Newman
Open Maiden Division 2 (Devon Fuels)
1 Infamous Grouse (Darren Edwards) 12-1 held up midfield, led after 15, slt ld last, dvn out
2 Morebutwhen (Claire Hart) 10-1 prog 4 out, effort next, cl 2nd 2 out til last, just held
3 Gold Relief (David Noonan) 50-1 soon rear, gd hdwy 15, ev ch 2 out, no extra flat
14 ran; 1/2l; 3l; 6m 51s
Owner The Bradley Partnership; Trainer Nicky Martin
Intermediate (The Farriers)
1 Repeat Business (James Tudor) 7-4 held up, hdwy 10, led 4 out, drew clr last, comf
2 Little Cornham (Will Biddick) 9-2 held up, prog 14, went 2nd 4 out, ev chance 2 out, wknd apprg last
3 Argentato (Jordan Nailor) 33-1 made most til after 15, kept on one pace
8 ran; 10l; 20l; 6m 39s
Owner Mrs J Bird : Trainer James Tudor
1 Working Title (Joe Drinkwater), 5-4 fav made all, comf
2 Sobre Tresor (Taylor Pook) 6-1 2nd from 12th, stayed on well
3 Vertige Dore (Hannah Welch) 33-1 in touch til 4 out
11 ran; 8l; 4l; 6m 11s
Owner: P Drinkwater; Trainer S Drinkwater
1 Byerley Bear (Leanda Tickle) 2-5 fav made all, ran on strongly
2 Dan Breen (Jo Buck) 5-2 strong chall 3 out, no extra flat
3 Ghizao (Chloe Newton) 8-1 hdwy 12th, wknd 3 out
5 ran; 4l; 6l; 6m 5s
Owner R Knowles; Trainer R Chanin
1 Desert Queen (Michael Legg) 4-1 led from 5th, clear 14th, easily
2 Ballanrahan (David Noonan) 8-1 hdwy 14th, stayed on well
3 Railway Benefit (Nick Williams) 11-10 fav went 2nd 14th, no extra from 3 out
10 ran; 12l; 8l; 6m 10s
Owner M Legg, R Clarke, D Jones; Trainer Ben Clarke
1 Raffa (John Mathias) 5-1 led 14th, ran on well
2 Hameldown Tor (Robbie Henderson) 7-2 4th at 14th, stayed on clsg stgs
3 Minella Fifty (Will Biddick) 5-2 led til 14th, every chance til no extra flat
6 ran; 2l; 2l; 6m 9s
Owner L Fielding-Johnson & R Mitford- Slade. Trainer: R Mitford-Slade
1 Le Clo De La Monde (Jamie Thomas) 5-1 led 4 out, soon clear
2 Follow The Paint (Bryony Frost) 3-1 fav led 13th til 4 out, held from next
3 Racey Lacey (Will Biddick) 10-1 went 3rd 3 out, not trbl ldrs
11 ran; 12l; 2l; 6m 27s
1 Sonoftheking (Darren Edwards) 7-1 led from 7th, pushed clr flat
2 Sisterbrooke (Robbie Henderson) 7-4fav prom, every chance 2 out, no extra
3 Spendajennie (Jamie Thomas) 4-1 cl 2nd & every chance 2 out, no extra flat
13 ran; 3l; 2l; 6m 25s
Owner The Bradley Partnership; Trainer Nicky Martin
Confined (Three Cornish Farriers, R Chapman, A Daniels, C Brandon)
1 Sweet My Lord (Tom Chanin) 4-5 fav led 14th, clr 3 out, v easily
2 Ladyvie (Hannah Welch) 9-2 stayed on to 2nd 2 out, not reach wnr
3 Sir Watty (Darren Edwards) 9-1 led til 14th, wknd 3 out
4 ran; 7l; 14l; 6m 17s
Owner T & Mrs E M Worth ; Trainer; R Chanin
The Kivells sponsored Men’s Open looks to be the feature race of the day, at this weekends North Cornwall Point-to-Point to be held at the Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge, Sunday Jan 11. Attracting many of the top horses and male jockey’s throughout the country, the winning horse will qualify for the £7,500 Bonhams Mens Open Final HC to be held at Cheltenham on Wednesday 29th April. Entered in this race Hameldown Tor trained by Ed Walker could be the ride for leading area male jockey Robbie Henderson. Minella Fifty from the Claire Hitch team is another entered and has been a winning combination with National Champion jockey Will Biddick aboard, but the gelding is yet to tackle this course. Kirkleigh from the Robert Chanin team is also entered, and could go well after running second here on his season debut last month, under jockey Tom Chanin. Course winners Raffa and Working Title both impressed on their previous runs and should feature if making the return trip.
After the Christmas and New Year break, this meeting promises to be full of action, and an early start time of 11.30am with eight scheduled races, attracting over 80 horses, offers a fabulous day out for all the family. The Moores of St Wenn North Cornwall Members Race heads up the day, and of the entries, Bennys Quest catches the eye, previously in training with Neil Mulholland, when winning three chases and a hurdle race, he could go well for local owner/ trainer Ryan Chapman.
The PPORA Club Members Race for novice riders is sponsored by Hops Oils, entries include the David Brace-trained Welsh raider Cock Of The Rock who looked to have needed the run at Black Forest Lodge in December when coming home fifth. Takamaru could be a ride here for young jockey David Noonan, the combination won here in December and look to be the likely favorites. Also entered is the Chloe Newman-trained Sobre Tresor, the horse is another to have a good record here when taking the Intermediate race at the March meeting under novice jockey Taylor Pook.
Cornish Mutual sponsor the Ladies Open race, in which the first three lady riders past the post will qualify for points towards the AGA iTotal Control Championship. This race could go to course specialist Byerley Bear for jockey Leanda Tickle and the Chanin team, however a new entry among his challengers is the Gerry Supple-trained Dan Breen, a previous Chase and Hurdle winner under rules and had run well at Plumpton last April on good to soft when a close third behind Fergell, he could be the one to put on a brave challenge here.
The Ray Davies Foods sponsored Restricted race is also a qualifier for the Subaru Restricted Point-to-Point series final to be held at Stratford Racecourse on Friday 29th May, of the entries, Railway Benefit was an impressive 14 length winner of his Maiden race at Black Forest Lodge in November under jockey Nick Williams, and if his connections have kept him fit , he could run well again. The Sweetener from the inform Kayley Woollacott team is another having recently won his maiden race when winning at this course.
The Stephen Scown Solicitors sponsored Open Maiden race has already been divided. In the first division Miss Weld could run well for Devon trainer Lee Glanville under daughter jockey Pippa Glanville, to follow up on their third here at the December meeting, along with According To Harry who also ran well that day under jockey Darren Edwards. Suggestions in the second division could be Sisterbrook and Briefcase.
The Confined race, which is sponsored by the Three Cornish Farriers, concludes the days event, suggestions could be Oscargo from the Sue Popham team, having previously scored in a chase and two hurdle races under rules when in training with Paul Nicholls, and Sir Watty from the Phil Rogers team, having won a restricted here last season under jockey Darren Edwards.
Track improvements have included replacing 16 tonnes of sand donated by local steward Ben Messer-Bennetts.
The course offers track side viewing, with exciting finishes up the stamina sapping hill. The large covered barn contains facilities such as hot food and refreshments, bar, bookies and trade stands. Easy access to the course which is located off A39 West of Wadebridge Postcode PL27 7JE. Entrance is £10 car and driver, £5 per passenger, children under 16 free, dogs on leads welcome.
Met Office 5 day forecast: Wadebridge, 1.3 miles from PL27 7JE
Point to Point horse racing enthusiasts will be heading to the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge this weekend, where the Cornwall Club will be hosting their fixture on Sunday December 14.
It promises to be an exciting day out for all the family, with some super racing, together with a real festive feel to the occasion. The huge covered barn will contain a host of trade stands making it an ideal way to include some Christmas shopping. Seven races are on offer attracting 78 quality entries. The first race, the Home Furnishings (Wadebridge) Ltd Cornwall Club Members race for novice riders,heads up the action at 12 Noon. Entered is the Samuel Drinkwater- trained Working Title who won this race last season, but was well held in seventh place two weeks ago at Black Forest Lodge. Cock Of The Rock from the David Brace team looked to have needed the run, when fifth in the same race. Valentine Vic from the Chloe Roddick team finished second here at the January meeting behind another entry Googoobarabajagal, who is now trained by Lucy Gardner for owner and jockey Rob Stoneman.
Next up is the Mens Open race sponsored by Moores of St Wenn Ltd, being a qualifier for the £7,500 Bonhams Mens Open Point-to-Point Championship Final Hunter Chase at Cheltenham in April, this race will attract many of the top male jockeys from around the country. The Anglea Davies-trained Champagne Rosie won her Intermediate race here last season, and could well see current National Champion male jockey Will Biddick aboard. Whenharrymetsally is also entered for the Keith Cumings team, she is unbeaten in her last four outings including first time out this season, when winning two weeks ago at Black Forest Lodge. Kirkleigh from the Robert Chanin team has been reported to be schooling well after a summer break, and connections will be hoping he improves on his previous course second here.
The Ladies Open race is an AGA ITotal Control Championiship race, with the first three ladies past the post gaining points towards the championship. This race is sponsored by R J Trevarthen. The Robert Chanin-trained entry Byerley Bear is a course specialist here, having won five times in Ladies Opens, and will be looking to serve it up to his challengers and is the likely ride for Leanda Tickle. Rebel Du Marquis from the Chloe Roddick yard looks an interesting challenger, and could play a major part if fit. Having previously won five Chases and two Hurdle races, his wins include a Ladies Hunter Chase race at Cheltenham under National Leading Lady rider Bridget Andrews.
Hutchinsons Ltd sponsor the Restricted race, in which the Welsh raider Railway Benefit from the Gareth Moore team could take home the spoils. Having won under jockey Nick Williams at Black Forest Lodge two weeks ago, connections could be looking for a quick fire double if the horse stays fit and progresses .
The Intermediate race is a qualifier for the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Championship to be held at Cheltenham, this race is sponsored by The Nare Hotel.Entries include the Becky Kennen-trained My Rebel who under Leanda Tickle got the better of Raffa at Upcott Cross in April. Raffa now has the benefit of a recent outing at Black Forest Lodge, where he ran impressively under jockey John Mathias coming home to win, four lengths ahead of Bob The Butcher. Another to catch the eye is the Lee Glanville-trained Milled, who has some good form behind him.
Two divisions of the Open Maiden follow, the first is sponsored by Miller & Son, entries include the John Heard-trained Follow The Paint who ran second under jockey Bridget Andrews at Chaddesley Corbett, and Russian Poet from the Dennis Branton yard, when under jockey Ciarian Gethings ran a promising fourth at the recent Black Forest Lodge meeting.
The second division is sponsored by Harris Begley, in which Sutton Storm previously scored a second at the course for trainer Angela Davis, and The Sweetener for the Kayley Woollacott team, ran well well in a hurdle race in the summer before falling at the last.
On course facilities include bookies, bar, hot food and drinks, trade stands all under large covered barn. Excellent track side viewing and easy parking. Course is located off A39 West of Wadebridge postcode PL27 7JE Entrance is £10 car and driver £5 per passenger, children under 16 free.
Met Office 5 day forecast: Wadebridge, 1.3 miles from PL27 7JE
Devon & Cornwall Point-To-Point Secretaries Association – the official area website
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