by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

A few drops of rain on the windscreen just like yesterday when we left Newquay soon turned into a shower progressing slowly to a continuous down pour and then the odd remark crept out like “We are going to get wet today Darling!” but Ruth was as determined as I was to go Point to Pointing so on we went. I rang frequently to check if there was any change in the going or even an abandonment but up until 1030 am all I got was what it was like yesterday at half past six, not a lot of use really!  Whilst I appreciate that overworked secretaries do not have much time on their hands on the day’, a message on the line at 8.30 am to state that ‘no messages from P to P Secretaries has been received therefore there has not been any changes’ would have been encouraging.  I would have hated it if I had paid to get out of Cornwall and then found the situation had changed.  At least they would not have charged me to get back in!

I must first say that the riding of FRYS LANE in The Newton Abbot Racecourse Intermediate Championship Qualifying Race was superb!!  Simon brought this Pragmatic Grey home into fourth place in fine style.  Simon’s Aunty was in a red Volvo in the lay-by on the main road but he did not let that put him off – he just waved to her as he cleared the fences along that straight and rode on into a worthy fourth place against some other good horses. If FRYS LANE goes to Newton Abbot I will make sure that Aunty doesn’t journey by train that day!  (That little bit should get me out of trouble as I was threatened with a ‘virus’ if I didn’t write something favourable!). Mr E Evans & Mrs P Wilkins’s JOLITAN ridden by Mr B Evans got up to win by ¾ of a length with Mrs J Purdie’s KING OF THE NAUL (R Young) second three lengths ahead of Mrs F Bishop’s, best turned out, LEON GARCIA with Simon in fourth place.

The South Devon Farmers’ Members’ and Subscribers’ Race brought up four runners and I had decided to punt my money on Mr Lethbridge’s BY MY SIDE with Amanda Barnett riding.  If the Clerk of the Course who has trained this horse and is the starter to boot cannot arrange this one to pass the winning post first then I will definitely refrain from taking any of these jobs.  Mr Williams’s WELL ARMED also has a lady jockey aboard, Tabitha Cave who is riding this good pointer for the first time, so no doubt with its form it will be well supported and the best turned out Mrs Darke’s BOLD LEAP (D McKenna) and Mrs Treneers’s WISE FLORIZEL  (M Treneer) make up the foursome.  We had walked the course in fine weather but now some more rain decided to fall but I don’t think this will have any bearing on the condition, which I would say is ‘good’.  BY MY SIDE led for a considerable time, in fact this race of two and three-quarter circuits jumping 19 fences saw my investment in front for two and a quarter circuits and 16 fences but I have found out many times, that does not pay the bills!  WELL ARMED came home a worthy winner by one length from BY MY SIDE who rallied well but not well enough, followed by BOLD LEAP and WISE FLORIZEL a little further back.  That’s me being polite, for the form book it was a good 25 lengths further back.

Six are off to the start for The Carter Jonas London Link/Luscombe Maye Confined Hunts Race and the handlers of Mr Graham Roach’s LAMOLA SUN were pleased to see their charge leave the paddock as he was a little lively to say the least and their arms which would normally reach the bar will now reach the optics behind the bar.  Some advantage I suppose!  I watched him go to the start very closely as I had to decide which of two I was going to trust with my investment the other being Mrs K Nicholas’s HAPPY TEAM with Les Jefford aboard and this pair are consistency itself.  Tim Dennis settled LAMOLA SUN very well on the run down and didn’t seem to have any problems so the chances are he will do the same in the race and bring him home in first position BUT Les probably has different ideas.  Decision time is ‘ere! A quick check on the form of the other runners and I think Mr Oliver’s AGENT is knocking on the door but the chances of it being opened here I fear are a little slight.  Has Mr Turner’s NO MORE NICE GUY improved enough to win this – I don’t think so!  When the dulcet tones of Peter (Wakeham) announced they were lining up I plonked all (almost!) on LAMOLA SUN at the skinny price of two to one but then HAPPY TEAM was eleven to ten ON.  Mr Hoskins’s CLANDON LAD (H Froud) passed me the first time with a glint in his eye and led the field by about five lengths, a situation he chose to keep for a good deal of the race with three others closely attending.  It was unfortunate that in the back straight for the final time he came unstuck (fell) and left LAMOLA SUN and HAPPY TEAM to race on together.  Both jumping well, both being ridden well but I think mine will win!  But why are 64 people around me shouting for HAPPY TEAM – Come on Les, if only they knew! At the second last HAPPY TEAM was reported as having ‘got a little close to it’ Ah! say I – tiring?  Going up the hill for the final time I was delighted to see my investment a length in front of HAPPY TEAM with NO MORE NICE GUY back in third by about ten lengths.  I was standing between the last jump and the flags and as these two contestants passed me my horse was in front but they were racing hard for the line and I would have to wait for the Judges decision.  I dashed to the winners enclosure as one does when finances are involved and I was delighted to see Les go into second place and Tim, without hesitation go into the coveted slot, First.  I remained at the parade ring looking quite proud of myself and was there when the announcement was made – DEAD HEAT.  What do I hear – yes! DEAD HEAT.  Well, being sporting I decided that was a fair conclusion to a good race by two good horses.  My 64 supporters of HAPPY TEAM were now not so happy because they bet ODDS-ON and would not be coming out of it in pocket where as I bet two to one AGAINST and would be picking up a little.  Half as much as I would have had LAMOLA SUN stuck his head out once more!  NO MORE NICE GUY was ten lengths back in third.

The next race was for a little more than the usual reward and is sponsored by The Totnes & Bridgetown Races Co Ltd, a Mixed Open Race known as “The Westcountry Champion ‘Chase”. Nine good horses went to post and the ‘bookies’ were not sure whom to make favourite.  Mrs Hutchinson’s RIMPTON BOY to be ridden by Polly Gundry and Tim Winzer’s PROVINCE ridden by Les Jefford were the two main contenders for the position but the Susan Young ridden TRACK O’PROFIT was in close contention and some money for Mrs Willcock’s COMEDY GAYLE to be ridden by Neil Harris was also in the money.  I chose on the basis of Polly Gundry is the best, she is really riding extremely well, fit and lovely looking I will invest on those good points.  Joint favourites at 7/4 I will search for 2 to 1 – yes - that’s what I got - and so to watch The Westcountry Champion Chase.  TRACK O’PROFIT made the running and set up a good pace with many of the others in turn in second and third places but not out of the leading picture by very much. The leader got a bit close to the thirteenth but got away with it but it set him back a length allowing Mr J Boulter’s CAHORS (M Miller) to join him in the lead.  RIMPTON BOY now also getting into it and rounding the turn for the back straight for the last time went into the lead.  Polly then went on to a 3-length lead with the nearest pursuer being CAHORS followed by TRACK O’PROFIT and PROVINCE.  Not quite time yet to make too much noise but things are looking good.  Up the hill for the final time and my investment was about 4 lengths in front BUT noticeably tiring.  Maybe now a little bit of noise would encourage this grey gelding into a final burst of speed.  TRACK O’PROFIT is definitely getting closer and maybe was only taking a breather.  Shouting begins - real shouting now and over the last in front comes RIMPTON BOY.  Polly of course rode this one out with gusto and managed to win by one and half-lengths with a well-ridden TRACK O’PROFIT second and PROVINCE in third place.  It was a good race in the fastest time of the day with the rain continuing to pour down and going being affected but horses getting through it alright.

An Open Maiden and two divisions of the Restricted Races followed in conditions that were very wet to say the least!   The Open Maiden for 5,6 and 7 year olds saw a close finish between very muddy horses, so muddy I could not see the numbers of those racing for the finish but it was the best turned out Mr Lissack’s SIR CUMFERENCE ridden by J Barnes who had been in a challenging position throughout, who was there when it really mattered, followed by J Squire’s JOESOFINE (probably pronounced Josephine and not Joe So Fine – someone let me know!)  and Christian Williams on Mr Maltby’s RED NATIVE in third place.

It was the horse that won its maiden here that came through a tight finish fight to take the Division One of the Restricted, Miss L Cole’s FROG STREET (L Jefford) by a length from an Ottery winner, The Partridge Partnerships’ TH’MOONS A BALLOON with a Great Trethew winner in third place Mr R Barber’s SPUDDLER’S DREAM (C Williams) just half length back.  I had chosen Count Goess-Saurau’s NONPLUSSED who was the best turned out and to be ridden by Polly Gundry.  On this race I lost money but I will get it back and from this horse in the very near future.

Finally I went mad and put more than I should have done on the favourite but not too bad a price.  I enjoyed this race immensely.  Neil Harris riding Mrs Brake’s FATHER JIM never gave me a minute’s worry and came home to win by four lengths with the best turned out Mr J Squire’s RICE POINT (C Heard) in second and quite some way behind was the jointly owned HENRY’S SON.  Off to pick up!

Not a bad day and the rain has gone and I’m off to eat my lovely piece of Coffee Cream Sponge which I spied earlier in the back of a car and begged a piece from the owner.  Now Mr & Mrs Owner, we’ll move our car anywhere if you keep the Coffee Cream Sponge coming – it was delicious!  All right! So was the cake and shortbread out of the other car!

A bit of cleaning up to do, that Devon mud sticks, but I will be ready for next weekend, Lamerton Foxhounds at Kilworthy followed by our first visit to Ston Easton near Bath for the meeting of The Mendip Farmers Hunt.  We will be staying in the Taunton area for the night so don’t all rush!

See you there.  Cheers and good pointing! Fred