by Mal Davies

A stylish double for Joe Downes was the highlight of an eight race card at a bright but chilly Weston Park on Sunday as a large and enthusiastic crowd welcomed back point-to-pointing for the new season.

Downes' wins were aboard Sam's Day in the best race of the day, and Oh So Sure in one of the confined maiden races. Sam's Day, a horse to follow, held on to a half-length victory in a great three-horse finish, ahead of Wild Edric (Richard Burton) and Lestat (Julian Pritchard). The race time was by some way the best of the day, and all three horses should be followed; each is capable of winning in higher class. By contrast, Oh So Sure's win was by a handy four lengths in the day's slowest time. Karzhang, enterprisingly ridden by Gary Hanmer ran on well for second, ahead of Charlie Barlow on Mr. Moonbeam.

The formerly smart chaser Listen Timmy was sent off favourite for a strong members race which opened the meeting, but he was no match for Native Cove, ridden by Lenny Hicks, who followed up his success in the corresponding race last year with a facile twenty-length stroll. Carly Goodall's Althrey Blue was a distance back in third. Edmund Haddock's winner is in the form of his life at the moment and should be followed.

Listen Timmy was watched by his owner, Sir Stan Clarke, and it was not long before Sir Stan found himself in the winner's enclosure, as his McHattie won a decent Mens open ahead of Rusty Fellow (Dai Mansell, well ridden), and Strong Chairman, carrying the Waley-Cohen colours.

Will Hill landed the second division of the confined maiden with an assured ride on Stepquick, who had too much speed for Sue Sharratt's Whatasucker, with the Richard Burton odds-on favourite, Templebreedy disappointing in third. Sharratt later made amends by landing a fair Ladies Open in partnership with Stretching, twelve lengths to the good of previous winner Hag's Way (Lorna Brooke).

Burton also notched a single winner, piloting the eleven-year-old former Irish gelding Cascum Lad to a first win in the UK. Four lengths second was Joshua's Vision and Lorna Brooke.

Gary Hanmer landed a smooth win on Allow, who has been running well this season, and was well backed at 3-1 to take a strong confined race. Bishop's Hall, now a venerable sixteen year old, showed he still retains ability, with a solid second place under Simon Prior; the well backed Harweld was in a beaten third place when he refused at the last for Richard Burton.