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REPORT ON THE DULVERTON WEST POINT-TO-POINT AT BRATTON DOWN, SUNDAY 17TH MAY 2015

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WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR

THE first of three late season fixtures at Bratton Down proved quite an occasion.for the British point-to-point world.

Will Biddick has held the National point to point title for the past three seasons. After beating his previous best seasonal total of 42 winners this year, the next natural objective was to better the previous British record of 56 winners in a season held jointly by brothers Tom and Oliver Greenall.

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Will Biddick returns to the paddock at Bratton Down on the Claire Hitch trained Bernshaw, having broken the record for wins in a British point-to-point season.

The Cornish rider lost little time in breaking the record on Sunday by winning the opener on Bernshaw, but why stop there? Biddick went on to partner four more winners as the pressure came off during a memorable afternoon.

“My aim this year was to hold on to the National title but I soon picked up more winners (22 since Easter) and the record became a reality. Ollie and Tom went all the way to Umberleigh when they did it (last meeting of the season in June), but I have done it with four weeks to go at one of my favourite tracks,” said a clearly relieved jockey.

Bernshaw took the 13-runner Restricted in good style for the local yard of Claire Hitch, as a prelude to a trio of successes saddled by Jack Barber, who has supplied the majority of the champion jockey’s winners this year.

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Will Biddick on Bugsie Malone holds off The Mystro to win the second division of the Bob Pittard Memorial maiden race

Bugsie Malone was the first of these in a 16 strong Maiden . This promising five-year-old, owned by Graham Roach, was making his racecourse debut and held on well when challenged by The Mystro up the final climb. “He came in late and we have had to do a lot of jumping with him. He is green and will improve,” reported the young trainer.

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Will Biddick returns to the winners enclosure on Whataknight with Jack Barber

Six-year-old Whataknight is more the finished article and after opening his account on this course last year has now added a hat trick of wins this season. The Midnight Legend gelding looks a fine prospect and took the Members’ Conditions race for his owners Terry Hamlin, Martin Dare and John Snook.

The Barber stables tally was completed when Queens Bay was given a typically patient Biddick ride to win the Mares and Fillies race. “She has had time off and didn’t come in until February,” said Barber who trains this former bumper and hurdles winner for owners Lucy and Robert Dickinson.

Suzy Berry saddled the other leg of the five-timer when her father’s nine-year-old Otis Tarda just got the better of a spirited battle with Fourstar River in the Intermediate.

The Bob Pittard Memorial Maiden provided a major shock when the unconsidered outsider Highland Thistle prevailed in a tight finish under Merv Woodward. Bought as an unbroken four-year-old, the sturdy gelding is trained for owner Andrew Pope by Julie Pocock at Stolford on the edge of the Quantocks. “First time blinkers have made all the difference,” said the trainer as her charge finally put a string of disappointing efforts behind him.

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Bryony Frost driving for the line on Bellflower Boy to win the mixed open from Cecile De Volanges

It was a case of dispensing with headgear which has rejuvenated the four miles Mixed Open winner Bellflower Boy. Bryony Frost conjured a storming late run out of this multiple winning chaser who stayed on up the hill to hold the equally strong finishing Cecile De Volanges. “He loves galloping and is as tough as old boots,” exclaimed Culmstock based trainer Stuart Sampson who handles the 12-year-old for owner Ben Robarts, and was completing his first training double as he greeted his fourth winner of the season.

Top Chief was the first leg of the stable double in the PPORA race limited to riders who have won less than 10 races. Jake Bament, who was partnering his fifth winner of the season, works for the Harry Fry yard, and had his mount out in front from half way before shaking off Barneys Mate up the gruelling final hill. John Gardener and Terry Hamlin share ownership of Top Chief who was bought at Doncaster last September after winning twice for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott.

19-year-old Bryony Frost was awarded the newly installed Mike Trickey Memorial Cup for the best ride of the day on Bellflower Boy in the four miles Mixed Open.

After such jubilance, spare a thought for popular local point-to-point jockey Ed Barrett who has recently been transferred to the spinal injuries unit at Oswestry hospital. Ed is improving slowly from serious injuries sustained in a fall at the Eggesford meeting last month.

RESULTS

Results of the Dulverton West meeting

VIDEO

Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at www.westcountryvideos.co.uk

PHOTOGRAPHERS

The following photographers were at the meeting: Sportography (Mark Johnston), Baths Photographic (Marcus Bath), Tim Holt, Brian Armstrong, Stephen Wensley, and Roger Peaple

NEXT FIXTURES

Bank Holiday Monday, 25th May 2015, South Tetcott Point-To-Point, Upcott Cross, nr Halwill Junction, EX21 5AE.

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REPORT: AXE VALE HARRIERS POINT-TO-POINT AT STAFFORD CROSS SUNDAY 26TH APRIL 2015

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WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR

WILL BIDDICK is marching on towards his half century for the season in his quest for a fourth consecutive National jockeys’ title, and put three more winners in the bag at the Axe Vale meeting. Considering the recent dry spell, the organisers produced remarkably good ground thanks to extensive watering.

Subtle Sovereign was untroubled under the champion’s guidance in beating his two opponents to in win his first Open, easing clear in the home straight. “This was his eighth win in his last nine runs. We will probably wait another year before going hunter chasing,” said Jeremy Barber, whose son Jack was saddling his 38th winner of the season.

The progressive Whataknight soon made it 39 for the Dorset trainer, drawing right away from his rivals at the second last to win the Intermediate, “He is an out and out galloper and just keeps going,” commented Jack, who trains the six-year-old for owners Terry Hamlin, Martin Dare and John Snook.

The Barber/Biddick treble was completed when five-year-old Royalzaro beat 12 opponents to win the Restricted. “He was a cheap buy in France and is going the right way,” reported the young trainer.

Kostaquarta almost made if four winners for the yard but came off second best after a protracted battle with Fiulin in the Confined. Now with Ed Walker, the winner is owned by the Carstairs Clan which consists of Guy and Alex Carstairs and their young children Zak, Oliver and Euan. “He was losing ground over his fences in a hunter chase at Newton Abbot the other day and we will stick to pointing for a while now,” said the trainer. Fiulin has a remarkable CV. By Galileo, he fetched 280,000 guineas as a four-year-old. AP McCoy couldn’t win on him, but apart from his pointing wins for previous owner Ross Oliver, the sturdy 10-year-old has won on the flat and over hurdles, and competed at the Cheltenham festival and Royal Ascot. Phew !

Fiulin’s successful jockey Robbie Henderson was out of luck in the Hunt race when 1-4 favourite Hameldown Tor tumbled out of the race when caught by the flailing legs of Miss Cupcake at the 13th fence. This event went to former hurdles winner Moyne Nineoseven who was partnered by Vicky Wade for the Nineoseven Partnership. “I bought him at Ascot last October, He has a few quirks and we have waited for better ground,” said trainer Sarah Pidsley who has four pointers in her yard at Payhembury near Honiton.

Silver Token was a warm favourite for the Novice Riders’ race but gave Harry Cobden a nasty fall when crashing through the wing of the 14th fence. Loose Preformer (Hedley Webb) was left clear but failed to withstand the well timed challenge of Maxi Chop (James King) after jumping the last. Despite an expensive price tag, the seven-year-old did not reach the winner’s enclosure for Paul Nicholls, but is proving a good novice ride and was following up his Hackwood Park win on Easter Monday. “James King and Stan Sheppard are sharing the rides and it was the turn of James today. This horse has bled before and could finish distressed, but has got his confidence back now,” reported trainer Rose Loxton.

It is not always plain sailing, even for champions, and after receiving his trainer’s trophy on a euphoric day at Sandown, it was down to earth, literally, the next day in a field at Stafford Cross. Four-year-old San Satiro carried the champion trainer’s colours in the concluding Maiden. The raw youngster, trained by Jack Barber, only got as far as the fourth fence before virtually stopping and depositing Will Biddick on the Devon turf..

Boymann went on to win the event under Leanda Tickle. The seven-year-old was home bred by owner Paul Mann. “He was unlucky not to win last year when he threw away a race at Trebudannon. He needs good ground and is now my third winner with my last three runners,” exclaimed delighted trainer Joe Tickle.

RESULTS

Results of the Axe Vale meeting

VIDEO

Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at www.westcountryvideos.co.uk

PHOTOGRAPHERS

The following photographers were at the meeting: John Beasley (Big Green Annual), and Athwenna Irons (Western Morning News)

NEXT FIXTURES

Saturday,2nd May 2015, Modbury Point-To-Point, Flete Park, nr Ermington, Ivybridge, Plymouth.

Bank Holiday Monday, 4th May 2015, Stevenstone Point-To-Point, Vauterhill, nr High Bickington, Barnstaple.

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Report: Exmoor Point-To-Point, Bratton Down, Sunday 1st June

POINT-TO-POINTING was seen at its best at Bratton Down on Sunday with good ground, quite favourable Exmoor weather, a total of 83 runners and some exciting finishes.

The reigning Devon & Cornwall champion jockey Josh Guerriero will be handing over his title this year, but his new job as assistant trainer to Midlands based Dan Skelton has meant fewer opportunities in the saddle this time

25–year-old Josh showed that he had lost none of his dash with a treble in the first three races. Bernshaw set the ball rolling with a repeat of last year’s win in the Hunt race. Trained locally at Stoke Rivers for her parents Mike and Mella, the blinkered Bernshaw made virtually all the running. “He had not really been firing recently. He can be lazy and a bit artful and had to work hard for this,” commented the trainer

The Restricted had to be divided on the day. Fourstar River was well backed in the first section and came from off the pace to sweep past his rivals on the brow of the hill. “I have been trying to win a race here since 1975 and had several near misses,” said the winner’s owner/trainer Stewart Reddaway, who confessed to having a big bet on his nine-year-old. “He is a high class horse but not easy to train. Charlotte Rowe does a lot of the work and we have to look after his joints and his back,” he added.

Josh Guerriero produced another fine ride to lift the other division with The Mexican Bandit. Once again there was a blanket finish with The Mexican Bandit grimly holding off a five strong posse charging up the hill. “We have only had him for six weeks and he was a 70th birthday present for his owner Diana Scott. He was originally with Ollie Greenall and he came to us via Josh Guerriero and Ed Glassonbury,” said trainer Keith Cumings.

Open races often attract small fields at this time of the season, but they were well filled here. Join Together has been a classy recruit to pointing this year and the former Paul Nicholls chaser took his unbeaten record to six in the space of just 12 weeks when outclassing his 11 opponents in the Ladies’ Open.

Rose Loxton now trains this tough gelding, who has kept his 16-year-old rider Megan Nicholls in pole position for the National Novice Riders’ title. Leanda Tickle set a good pace on the bold jumping Ned White, but had no answer to the winner’s finishing burst. “My instructions were to follow the pace and be patient,” explained the winning rider, who was partnering her 16th winner of the season and could find herself with some good hunter chase rides next year. “Join Together is the sort who could go for the Foxhunter at Cheltenham.” was the long term thought expressed by proud father Paul Nicholls.

Round Tom has been successful in the hunter chase field in the past and the Richard Barber trained gelding started favourite in the 14-runner Men’s Open under Will Biddick. This time the nine-year-old could not quite cope with the wonderful veteran Coombe Hill who stayed on strongly in the hands of Darren Edwards. “He did not run well at Newton Abbot recently and we were thinking of retiring him after this race, but might have second thoughts now,” mused trainer Charlotte Fear (nee Tizzard) who handles the 13-year-old for owner Geoff Thompson.

Fancied horses put the punters in a good mood on Sunday, but Glenwood Present proved a lively outsider when chalked up at 16’s and 20’s before landing the 12-runner Intermediate under Josh Newman. “He had been gurgling and has got his confidence back now with the tongue tie and better ground”, said Nick Taylor, whose wife Tanya trains the sturdy ex-Bob Buckler gelding at Woolminstone for owner Nick Elliott. Glenwood Present was described by his trainer as “Such a sweetie in the yard – we can even lead our daughter’s pony off him.”

O’Flo had run really well at Bratton two weeks ago and the five-year-old grey stepped up to win the first division of the Open Maiden when outstaying the clumsy jumping Crackacan and Grey Dream to give Bryony Frost her 11th winner of the season. “That was a lovely run and she can go into the field now for the summer. Her dam O’Ech won here 10 years ago,” said the winner’s owner/trainer Carol Lawrence who bred her winner from the Vauterhill stallion With The Flow.

Whataknight won the concluding Maiden in good style to give Will Biddick his 36th winner of the season and put him well within sight of his third successive National jockeys’ title. “He was a bit green but jumped well and found a gear or two up the hill,” reported Biddick. Richard Barber saddled the winner for owners Terry Hamlin, Martin Dare and John Snook. “He was a late foal and has come on a lot in the last few weeks,” said the Seaborough, Dorset trainer. West Country pointing enthusiasts will recall Whataknight’s dam What A Mover, who won several points, and by co-incidence had won on the same Bratton Down card as O’Flo’s dam ten years ago.

MONEY TALKS

PUNTERS 6: BOOKIES 2

Not exactly a blood bath for the layers, but punters certainly had the best of the exchanges with six of the eight favourites or joint favourites obliging.

FOURSTAR RIVER was snapped up at early 4’s in the first Restricted before settling at 2-1 favourite. The lightly raced gelding had delivered the goods only once before at Lower Machen last year, and was played late by Josh Guerriero to land a nicely planned gamble here.

The booking of Gina Andrews may have contributed to ASHTON MAGIC contracting from 14-1 into 10-1 in the same race. The seven-year-old almost fell when leading at the 10th fence and eventually finished last of the nine runners

COOMBE HILL was a worthy winner of the Men’s Open. This veteran pointer had won a hunter chase at Wincanton earlier this season but seemed to be on the downgrade when well beaten at Newton Abbot last month. He gained friends here at 7-2 and 3-1 and gamely overcame the 6-4 favourite ROUND TOM .

GLENWOOD PRESENT ‘S recent Holnicote win seemed to be overlooked as the sturdy gelding was easy to back at 20-1 and 16-1 in a competitive Intermediate. Josh Newman worked his mount into the lead before the final bend before brushing aside his challengers up the final climb.

The bookies were lying in wait in each division of the concluding Maidens. The bonny grey mare O’FLO (2’s to 7-4) shared favouritism with CRACKACAN, who was cut from 5-2 into 7-4. They finished first and second in that order.

The dogs had evidently been barking before the Richard Barber five-year-old WHATAKNIGHT teamed up with champion Will Biddick in the last event. No chances were taken by the layers and just scraps of 6-4 and 7-4 were offered. Once again the chaps with the satchels were proved right and this promising youngster did his job in taking fashion.

RESULTS

Point-To-Point and Pony racing results of the Exmoor meeting

VIDEO

Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at www.westcountryvideos.co.uk

PHOTOGRAPHERS

The following professional & amateur photographers were at the meeting: Baths photographic (Marcus Bath), Brian Armstrong, Clayton Jane, David Strange, John Beasley (Big Green Annual), Helen Stoneman, North Devon Journal, Tim Holt and Turfpix (Tracy Roberts)

NEXT FIXTURE

Sunday 8th June, Tiverton Staghounds Point-To-Point, Bratton Down (near Bratton Fleming)