by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

Not far to travel this morning so we are bound to be first in the car park at Lifton and so we were but not before the Chief Car Park Steward Graham Bridgeman; he was already on duty and ushered us in the friendliest way to commence the car park line.  Ruth made the coffee whilst I walked the course and I was amazed to see how much work has gone on in this area with drainage being to the fore and turning this into one of the nicest of courses.  A little juggling with the fences along the bottom will make sure that the next meeting here will have some new ground and it was lovely to see the grass in the run through which was normally wood chip and lots of it.  Much better now and assessed as ‘Good with some Good to Firm’.

I intended to meet friends here that I have not met before, except through emails but no matter how hard I tried to catch up with them, I failed.  Have to be next time now!!  There was a good crowd of P-to-P supporters and some others who were pointing for the first time.  Rest assured that everyone should have had a good days sport.

Seven were declared to run in the Hunt race and it was not an easy one from which to pick a winner.  Fortunately for me I chose the Froud’s AMTRAK EXPRESS (Hugo Froud) to start me off for the day and I managed to get seven to four for my investment.  This was the favourite and he ran well.  Young Liam Heard on their BUDGHILL was a leader for a while as was Susie Messer-Bennetts’ GARNWIN with Ben Tricky up who also took some of the money at the bookies and started at about 2 to 1.  My choice was held in a very good position until the final circuit when the challenge became necessary.  Unfortunately DRUMBANES PET was brought down when FRANKIES FLUTTER came down at the open ditch.  I understand that FRANKIES FLUTTER has been taken to Bristol with a rather large hole in his head, which is not his mouth.  Here’s wishing him ‘Get Well Soon!’ and I’ll give Frank a ring to check on his progress.  In the meantime AMTRAK EXPRESS is continuing to set the pace out in front.  On coming back into view from the run through BUDGHILL gets the better of GARNWIN, but my choice is too good and to the line to win by a length and to make me my spending money for today – AMTRAK EXPRESS.  Fourth horse home a few lengths back was K George’s BELAFONTE.  The time for that race was five minutes fifty-one seconds which tells me that this is ‘quick’.  When the Eggesford last ran a Hunt race (not here!) it took over eight minutes to get round. A real good start!

The betting in The Simpkins Edwards Ladies Open race was odds-on Mrs Hutchinson’s RIMPTON BOY to be ridden by Polly Gundry and only one other horse took much money, that being Miss Stucley and J Duggan’s PHOENIX PHLYER to be ridden by Miss Stucley herself.  A little went for Miss Mitchell’s MOORLAND ROSE to be ridden by Sue Young, who has won her last two races and is very consistent.  I could not afford to wager on the favourite so a little went on PHOENIX PHLYER at 5 to 2.   I soon got the impression that Miss Stucley did not like this part of Devon/Cornwall and wanted to go home as soon as possible.  She went to the front early, by about ten lengths and what’s more – remained there for the duration of the race.  The RIMPTON BOY fans were still saying ‘She’ll come back’, even the commentator announced that Polly Gundry was keeping her in her sights – well that’s not difficult on the stretch across the bottom of the track but she (Miss Stucley) certainly did not come back and unfortunately RIMPTON BOY fell and that was it!  No competition now and PHOENIX PHLYER won by 15 lengths from BRETECHE with BITRAN a further 15 lengths back in third. 

Two years ago I reported on the way Jennifer (Smiler) Congdon rode OH SO BOSSY to victory in the Confined at the Eggesford Meeting at Bishopsleigh in heavy going.  Today I hope to see her do the same here.  It’s certainly not heavy but both horse and rider are much more experienced now and they will be carrying my money.  This is not going to be easy though!  David Pipe’s JUVANTIQUE with Ashley Farrant driving will be favourite closely followed by ‘in form’ Lucy on her CADES BAY and then my selection at 4 to 1.  D & Mrs Cocks’s SBS BY JOVE (A Charles-Jones) has not come into form yet but maybe today!  Off they go – no! False start – try again!  CADES BAY went off into the lead first but Jennifer followed quite close at a good pace, with WINDYEDGE, although being restrained by his jockey, pulling into third place with DURNFORD BAY also close up.  All safely over the open ditch!  The lead swapped around a bit but and I did lose a pound or two in weight when Smiler Congdon waved at me when OH SO BOSSY came over the 10th, but she knew better than come off directly in front of me, so she took the easiest way out and went on to gain the lead.  On into the final circuit, and Jennifer led over the open ditch but Ashley Farrant now began his move on JUVANTIQUE and joined Jennifer on the race across the bottom of the course.  Over the fourth from home they were together, while RICE POINT (Liam Heard) was chasing CADES BAY back in third and fourth places.  Jennifer and Ashley came over the third last together and there was not very much in it over the second last and the final fence and the run to the line saw both horses and jockeys – flat out.  OH SO BOSSY by a short head on the line!  Great Stuff! CADES BAY was 15 lengths back in third place.  What a great servant to the Congdons this horse is and all credit to the jockey and trainer. 

Two divisions of the restricted race were to follow and I had previously made my mind up when doing my tour of the ‘box’ park.  Richard Young (No not Jeremy Young as in the race card – Jeremy is now Assistant to Paul Nicholls!) had come down to ride two of Louise Alner’s Pointers so I took the easy way out and told everyone that these horses from Droop would win as I had seen them run at the Mendip meeting.  In division one the win was an easy one for FAIR SPRITE as he beat Smiler Congdon on CASTLEHALE by 15 lengths and she was more than a distance to the good of SHARETON.  Jennifer was obviously fed up being behind Richard, so the second division was a different race and this time although he won he was only a neck in front on the line from Andrew Congdon’s WILD BAVARD with Mr Eagles EMAREAGLE (M Shears) a distance away in third.  Ashley Farrant got discharged from the Targett’s KING’S STAGE in this race and I saw him later with his arm in a funny position which probably meant his collar bone was out.  Keep me informed someone!  Out of action for a while I think!  More money in the bag!  New printer for sure but I will not order it until the last race is over!

The Men’s Open race brought 10 entries to the start. The Polar Falcon offspring owned by J Kinnear and trained by Rose Vickery – POLAR FLIGHT was made odds-on favourite and too skinny a price to back.  I looked for a largish priced outsider to come second or third and settled for J Boulter and Miss Wilkins’s WHISPERING PINES to be ridden by Michael Miller as the carrier of my investment.  A little lady standing next to me informed me she was “only a pensioner” and had told her grandson to back the longest priced horse on the board with her one pound coin.  He had found a horse at fifty to one so she admitted she would be praying!  With Ashley out of it Richard Young (or is it Robert?) picked up a ride on Martin Pipe’s KAILASH who led for a while but was soon relegated to the rear of the field.  LONGSTONE LAD (Richard Woollacott) was pulled up, as I expect he found the ground not to his liking.  Mud is his preferred going.  Graham Roach’s LA MOLA SUN made a challenge but was soon tapped for toe as they say and left it to POLAR FLIGHT, WILLIAM O’DEE, SQUADDIE and WHISPERING PINES to take the field out into the country for the final time.  POLAR FLIGHT and SQUADDIE pushed on and were about eight lengths to the good of WILLIAM O’DEE when the favourite fell at the fourth last and left SQUADDIE going clear.  The leader was ten lengths ahead when clearing the run through, with WHISPERING PINES travelling well and closing.  Coming up the final hill it was still SQUADDIE with WILLIAM O’DEE closing and WHISPERING PINES doing the same.  The leader was a very tired horse at the last and my investment carrier was gaining ground and passed WILLIAM O’DEE and now challenged SQUADDIE for the first position.  He never made it by half a length.  First SQUADDIE, second WHISPERING PINES and third WILLIAM O’DEE.  I collected for my second place, BUT the little lady, remember the OAP, as she put it, picked up fifty pounds for her one-pound stake.  That’s justice!

The next was a well-contested open maiden race for five, six, and seven year olds.  At one time it was G Browns CAPTAIN RANDOM (Lucy Gardner) that was favourite but on the off I think Countess Susie Goess-Sauru’s HARRY’S MARE (P Gundry) had the honour.  M Willis’s WOODYS WIDGET (T Dennis) led for a considerable distance and took the field out into the country for the final time.  At the open ditch WOODYS WIDGET led with IRIS D’ESTRUVAL (A Charles-Jones) chasing hard and CAPTAIN RANDOM and HARRY’S MARE following but we lost RUN FOR HANNAH and CHERRYBROOK here.  On reaching the final fence the order had changed and IRIS D’ESTRUVAL was now having to race with Claire Heywood who was riding her IMPREVU for the first time.  This horse carried very little form but was going well.  Alex Charles-Jones made no mistakes and brought his six year old home with a margin of ten lengths over IMPREVU with CAPTAIN RANDOM back 15 lengths in third place and the favourite - fourth

Finally came the Confined Hunts Maiden.  The last race run at Umberleigh (Torrington Farmers- two years ago!) was a very close affair and I was more than disappointed when the judge gave the verdict against my investment which was a considerable amount of money at six to one on what I thought was the winner.  The Jockey thought she was the winner.  The majority of the public agreed with me.  The judge issued the final word and the season ended on me being out of pocket when I and others thought I should have been IN pocket. The race was awarded to Nick Mitchell riding INFORAPOP but my investment was with Tabitha Cave riding SEA SPIRIT.  Today this grey mare, now ten years old will have a chance to put things right.  On it all goes at four to one, yes – the lot!  The favourite was R Rawle’s YOUMEANDHIM (R Woollacott) with R Westacott’s SIR WILLIAM (D Edwards) taking some money as was Miss Kessler’s ‘best turned out’ DRUID MERILL (R Darke) and M Sweetland’s DANNY DOLITTLE.  Fifteen runners in this race and no open ditch as it is so battered around from previous fallers.  YOUMEANDHIM followed by BIRCH TOR, DANNY DOLITTLE and SEA SPIRIT took the field out into the country for the first time.  KING TUDOR fell.  As they reached the final fence next time round my SEA SPIRIT was just being told to close up and this grey mare did exactly that.  On passing the open ditch for the final time it was SEA SPIRIT and YOUMEANDHIM fighting for the lead closely followed by DANNY DOLITTLE.  SIR WILLIAM chasing in fourth place with the Froud’s MOST VITAL in fifth and DRUID MERRILL in sixth.  These front six are the leading group some ten lengths in front of the remainder and all in with a chance.  SIR WILLIAM was set alight by Darren Edwards and took up the lead for a while but then decided to run out and was out of the contest.  This left my investment well poised and with DANNY DOLITTLE went for home.  At the second last the first one to become visible out of the dip was – SEA SPIRIT with a slight advantage over DANNY DOLITTLE- if ever I wished Danny to do little, it was now.  Well Danny didn’t give up but neither did Tabitha and justice was seen to be done.  I was one of many who congratulated connections on that win.  SEA SPIRIT by three lengths from DRUID MERILL who managed to get the better of DANNY DOLITTLE who was another three lengths further back in third.  HARRY’S MARE was fourth.

A really great day out, in perfect weather and the course held up well and so did my wallet.  New printer this week or will I keep a shilling or two for South Cornwall at Trebudannon and Axe Vale at Stafford Cross next week.  Thank you Eggesford Hunt and I hope you enjoyed Jays as much as we did. 

See you all next week.  Fred & Ruth