by Gill Armstrong & Bob Bracher

The Cotley Hunt held their 49th annual point-to-point at their course at Cotley Farm, near Chard, on Bank Holiday Monday. Highlights were riding doubles for Leslie Jefford and Tigger Barnes and the success of Franklin's Best in the Wessex Area Feature Race.

The opening Cotley Hunt Members race was won comfortably by Castle Avenue ridden by Tigger Barnes. The horse had a hip problem when disappointing on his last run. John Symes, his owner and trainer from Ashill near Taunton, plans to keep him going for the remainder of the season.

The Confined Novice Riders race was won in good style by General Typhoon, trained by Mary Tory for her in-laws Jim and Anne Tory. The winning horse was partnered by Naddan Wilmington, 27, from Dorchester, winning his first ever point to point. Naddan rode two winners as a conditional jockey before switching his attentions to becoming a fitness instructor at the Thomas Hardy Leisure Centre in Dorchester. 

The Wessex Area Feature race, the Mixed Open, proved to be an incident packed race despite only five horses taking part. The favourite, Polar Flight, unshipped Leslie Jefford at the fifth fence and with Out 'N' About slipping up on the bend before the 10th fence, King Of The Naul, ridden by Richard Young, was left clear. However Nick Mitchell, who had been hard at work on Franklin's Best from a long way out, staged a determined run from four fences from home and eventually ran out a five length winner. This was the horse's fourth victory of the season from seven starts and is a much improved performer for his owner/trainer Graham Foot from Askerswell near Bridport.

The Countryside Alliance Veterans Race was won by Fleet Mill owned by Julian and Susie Donald from London. The horse was given to them as a wedding present 18 months ago by Susie's father David Fox-Ledger and ran in the colours of Susie's mother. The mare, partnered by Leslie Jefford in the absence of the injured Tabitha Cave, was repeating her course success of two years ago.

The first division of the Maiden race was won by the locally trained Summer Pudding and was the second leg of Tigger Barnes' double. Summer Pudding, owned by local breeder Richard Thompson, has been difficult to train, but since being with Chard trainer Philip Greenwood the mare's problems seem to have finally been sorted out. This was Richard's first ever point-to-point winner and he was delighted with the victory. Tigger was recording his third ever career double but was quick to give credit to Dominic Alers-Hankey who had ridden the mare in her last two starts.

The second division of the Maiden race proved probably the most popular result of the day with Lee Glanville's Madam Rose finally breaking her duck at the age of 12. Lee has been trying to win a race with the mare since 1998, having bought her for 740 guineas at the Ascot Sales in December 1997. The horse has been placed many times but has usually found one or two of her rivals too good for her. Leslie Jefford, partnering her for the first time this season, rode a sensible race from the front and, with the majority of her rivals falling by the wayside, was able to come home virtually alone to record a memorable success.

The final race, the Restricted, was won by Bardon Boy, partnered by Richard Young, in good style. The horse, who is owned by Norman and Monica Tory and their son Andrew, is trained by Robert Alner's sister, Monica, and was bought in October 2000 at the Malvern Sales for Andrew to ride, but the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 put a halt to those plans. This season the horse had run two good races but had then experienced a few niggling problems which now seem to have been overcome. He could be a horse to follow judged upon this performance.