by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

We were very disappointed that we had to miss a days Point to Pointing due to bad conditions at Holnicote yesterday but were very keen to put things right today at Great Trethew.  We arrived quite early and parked in the usual place and all our friends soon joined us to discuss how to invest on eight races and pick out eight winners.  Some thought it easy, some not so easy but behind the scenes; the truth was that it was quite impossible!! The organisation was going well.  The tents still upright, the tractors in position to pull in the horse boxes to their parking area, this was a good idea, and the course looked fine with the ‘going’ forecasted as ‘Soft’.  The drizzle would blow away soon and a good days racing was envisaged.  It turned out to be an excellent days racing.  Very competitive, a few spills but nothing serious and as far as we were concerned – profitable!

The Duralock Open Maiden Race Division One was to be quite competitive with several horses from much respected stables entered.  Mr and Mrs Alford’s KESTICK (T.Cave) looked the part but so did Mrs Alfords sister, Lady Earle’s, BREEZY BETSY (L Gardner).  Mr R Barber’s SPUDDLER’S DREAM (C Williams), Mr E Retter’s IRIS D’ESTRUVAL (A Charles-Jones) and Mr A Walter’s PARTE PRIMA (Richard Woollacott) all looked as though they could win a race but which one will it be?  I decided to invest each way, unusual for me as I nearly always think I can pick a winner but it was difficult in this one   KESTICK took my money, to be at least, placed, preferably ‘First’.  At the ‘off’, it was IRIS D’ESTRUVAL that was made favourite with others not very far away.  I managed seven to one for my investment, so a place would give me a few bob but a win would create a very big smile!   Richard (Woollacott) unfortunately lost his saddle before the open ditch so he sensibly pulled up PARTE PRIMA, obviously thinking that a couple of miles to go without a saddle is not what a young man needs.  Lucy  (Gardner) sent BREEZY BETSY on at a good pace, she has shown good early speed before but can she maintain it here.  It is a shorter race than usual, by half a mile in fact, so maybe this front running ploy will pay off.  Ah! What do I hear – non other than top jockey Alex Charles-Jones has left the saddle of the favourite and will be walking back from the far end of the course.  With this one gone it was the turn of KESTICK to join BREEZY BETSY (keep it in the family!) with Ross Oliver’s MCCLOUD (Mark Shear) in third place.  At fence eight, these three were in the air together.  A couple more had also pulled up by the time they passed the Judge with a full circuit to run.   When the field came into view from behind the tents for the last time, it was the two horses of ‘the family affair’ together in the van with MCCLOUD about five lengths back in third.  At the open ditch several opted out and a few jockeys were left to walk back whilst SPUDDLER’S DREAM following BREEZY BETSY and KESTICK were the three that were going to fight this one out.  After a good race down the hill, it was the “No recent form NH or Point To Point” rated SPUDDLER’S DREAM that came clear by four lengths, followed by KESTICK and BREEZY BETSY.  The fourth horse was Miss P Mitchell’s MOORLAND ROSE ridden by Susan Young, another “No recent form NH or Point To Point” one to watch!  I spoke to the owners afterwards and every one seemed happy with the outcome;  KESTICK in particular as he was carrying 7 pounds more than the winner.  Ruth and I picked up a little.  Ruth got £2.40 for her £1 ew.  Smiles all round!! 

The Second Division sponsored by The Cornish Times was possibly the weaker of the two divisions but nevertheless a competitive event. Eleven went to post.  I had no idea whatsoever on whom to invest.  I viewed them in the paddock, I read all the form, four were in that ‘No recent form etc’ category and one of the others had a mother that could juggle with drinking bowls and would bite passing terriers but as regards giving me a clue – no!  I waited until they had left the paddock and then ‘the connections’ come down to the ‘bookies’ and invest large sums on their chargers or at least that was what I was hoping they would do.  Success!  One of ‘the connections’ invested, in front of my very eyes, a sum of money that only people in the know would dare invest.  I followed suit with a much much smaller sum and retired to the viewing spot to await the outcome.  I really enjoyed this race.  Lucy Gardner obviously had the word to front run again and sent G Brown’s CAPTAIN RANDOM off into a five-length lead at the first of the ditches.  This horse lost a little at each jump by jumping away to the left but with a circuit to run he was still ahead by four or five lengths from Ross Oliver’s ACTING TOUGH (Mark Shear) and Les Jefford on the Roberts’ owned, Gordon Chambers’ trained CHAPNERS CROSS in third place. A couple had been pulled up by the time they passed the judge on the first circuit, no doubt the ‘going’ was not quite suitable for them.  The 6yo bay-gelding carrying a good deal of my weekly allowance was lost in amongst the middle of the field at this time, not mentioned at all.  The favourite Mrs S Smith’s ONMYWAYHOME (Mark Munrowd) who was second at Wadebridge had not appealed to me but no doubt he carried a lot of investment on the form of that run and he began to make a move on the way to the open ditch for the second time and progressed up the hill.  Crossing the top at the far end it looked as though ONMYWAYHOME was doing just that with a few others close behind.  It was then that I heard the sweet words of Bill Harper (commentator) announce the arrival of one 6yo bay gelding called BAYOSS, belonging to Mr & Mrs K Biggins, M Doughty and M Dragisic, making good ground.  He continued to make good headway, passing all and sundry and heading for the winning line which he reached six lengths in front of Mrs S Prouse’s MONTY’S LASS (A Charles-Jones) who took P J Turner’s MAYBE’N (S Edwards) on the line.  Much jumping for joy!  I made some money but one of the connections had made one helluva lot more.  Good luck to him but I don’t have the many expenses.

The Land Rover Men’s Open race drew 12 contestants and a very classy lot they were.  Two were representing the D Pipe’s stable, one representing Gordon Chambers, Linda Blackford, Linda Wonnacott, D Edwards etc. – oh! The list was impressive!  I have been watching T Winzer’s PROVINCE (Les Jefford) and his form of a second and third this year is fair as he was only half a length behind that good horse OH SO BOSSY at Mid Devon in the fastest time of the day, albeit a Confined race.  Ruth questioned why I was not fancying ESCARTEFIGUE (Fav), or IRANOS or WESTCOUNTRY LAD, - no, my mind was made up and I informed some (only a few, which included Ruth!) of my friends, that I thought it was the day that PROVINCE would capture them all and collect the silver.  BOMBA CHARGER set a good pace but PROVINCE did not let him get away, with ESCARTEFIGUE and IRANOS in close pursuit.  At the top of the hill on the final circuit those worrying words of the commentator again echoed in my ears – ‘All four are in the air together’, BOMBA CHARGER, ESCARTEFIGUE, WESTCOUNTRY LAD and PROVINCE.  BOMBA CHARGER was the first to fade and left three good horses to battle it out over the remaining fences.  It was very exciting to say the least and it was my horse that touched down first over the last and went on to win by 3 lengths from ESCARTEFIGUE (G Barfoot-Saunt) with WESTCOUNTRY LAD (R Woollacott) a distant third.  We both pick up sensible money this time!

Polly Gundry shone again in the Ladies Open by winning on Mr R Kelvin-Hughes’s CHARLIE STRONG and in the Confined Hunts Maiden race on J Lawrence’s ARMAGNAC EXPRESS (Fav), - my selection H Wakeham’s CAREFREE LOVE (R Darke) brought in some money as it was invested on each way.  I could not afford the prices of the favourite.  Fourteen went to post in the Confined but only two finished.  Testing conditions!

The divisions of the Restricted race were well contested races with N Mitchell bringing home Mr & Mrs Faulks’s PENDRAGON in division one and Miss A Barnett doing the same with M Lethbridges’s BY MY SIDE in division two.

Only one more race to comment on and I have saved it to the last as it was extremely exciting.  The Newton Abbot Racecourse Intermediate Race – this is a qualifier for the Newton Abbot Racecourse Hunter Chase Final at Newton Abbot on 25th May 2002 eleven contestants went to post. The first one that caught my eye because of its price was FRYS LANE, owned and ridden by ‘whip throwing’ Simon White and trained by Polly Curling.  This horse bulged the wallet a little for me at Chipley Park but the opposition here is too good – not necessarily horse wise but Simon has not had the experience these other jockeys have had.  I think it’s three winners he has had in about ten rides but he is as keen as mustard and if he is not in the frame his wife has been known to swear at him!!  I will invest on him each way at 20/1 – yes twenty to one.  There was only one horse with bigger odds and that was Mr John Weldhen’s DARK CHALLENGER who will be ridden by Richard Woollacott.  This ten year old bay gelding is quoted at 33 to 1!   Tabitha Cave is on Nick and Rita Heard’s BLAZING MIRACLE who is coming into form but Polly is after a treble on Mr R Kelvin-Hughes’s DUKE OF ALBANY, which won easily last time out. The Young family’s FOSSY BEAR is back as is the jointly owned UCKERBY LAD (M Munrowd) and S Berwick’s YOUNG GENERAL (A Holdsworth).  The one to follow closely would be C Egalton’s PHILSON RIVER (L Jefford) as he has already won this season.  A good field!  I am quite happy to stick with FRY’S LANE each way at 20 to 1.  At the judge on the first circuit it was PHILSON RIVER, FOSSY BEAR, FRYS LANE and DUKE OF ALBANY and so it was at the open ditch.  The fence at the top of the hill was to prove PHILSON RIVER’S downfall and Les was deposited without pain, this leaving FOSSY BEAR in the leading position followed by FRYS LANE and DUKE OF ALBANY and in the rear, would you believe - quote ‘a tired DARK CHALLENGER’ unquote.  On passing the judge for the last time, Simon had put FRYS LANE in front and gosh! this jockey was really concentrating and I think I heard the trainer say something nice to him as he whizzed by – maybe not!  On emerging from behind the tents for the final time Polly had her charge in first position and Simon had given FRYS LANE a breather and was content on being second.  On approaching the ditch for the second and last time the tired DARK CHALLENGER was now being quote ‘not out of it’ unquote.  Tabitha Cave now brought BLAZING MIRACLE into the equation and over the ditch she went in line with Polly.  Polly got away a bit quicker and went left a little, maybe for better ground.  On reaching the top, it was young Mr Woollacott who now had DARK CHALLENGER doing just that, challenging DUKE OF ALBANY with FRYS LANE, BLAZING MIRACLE and FOSSY BEAR still in with a chance.  On reaching the third last, Simon was now pushing FRYS LANE on and the view of these horses as they turned for the downhill run and all in with a chance, was terrific.  The noise created by the crowd was super.  Here we have DARK CHALLENGER at 33/1 racing against FRYS LANE at 20/1 with BLAZING MIRACLE and DUKE OF ALBANY at lesser prices all being ridden out.  Very tired horses crossed the line with DARK CHALLENGER staying on to win by 5 lengths from Simon on FRYS LANE with BLAZING MIRACLE six lengths away, third. We picked up our each way money only to be crowded out by John Weldhen’s friends who had taken a little of the 33/1, some from Newquay, three I know from Veryan, and I saw Mr Weldhen (Jnr) holding a slip of paper which quite clearly read a lot of money!  Well done to all, it was really great!

A lovely day at a well organised Point to Point was ruined when I saw a large 4 x 4 reverse into a small red Ford.  The owner of the 4 x 4 left his telephone number and drove away.  I took time out to find the owner to let her know that her bonnet was now crumpled, her radiator grill was smashed and possibly her radiator damaged.  I hope it all turns out well but what a shock to come back and find your car damaged like that.

Next week its Ottery and Holnicote and with a few quid to spare we can afford B & B for an overnight stay as opposed to rolling up in the back of the Suzuki.  My horse to watch in future is DAMIENS PRIDE – you saw it first here!

Good luck and good Pointing