by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

We travelled down comfortably from Little Windsor and made for our B & B stop at Lower Thornton Farm, Kenn, the home of Alison Clack and family.  We have camped up here before and were more than satisfied then, so on being promised a new room in the extension we had something more to look forward to on this visit.  I normally comment on our B & B places but this one needs more than just that.  It really is lovely.  Anyone who wants to stay near Exeter for racing, walking, resting and just taking in the countryside can do well to book up here.  The rooms are lovely with French windows opening onto patios, which are practically in the woods with the pheasants, wild duck and all sorts of birds that will give you the most super dawn chorus.  No near neighbours except many sheep and their offspring.  Huge bedrooms and a bathroom that Ruth and I could dance around in – although we didn’t!  A truly lovely place to stay and a good meal was available at the local – the Seven Stars, in the village.

We drove to the course through the woods of the Earl of Devon’s estate and arrived from a different direction which proved an advantage when later we left the course and retraced our steps and came out through Ken and over the flyover and onto the A38 rather than queue and cross the dangerous dual carriageway on the Newton Abbott road.  We followed a horsebox whose driver must have thought exactly the same.  Hindrance free!  Incidentally I knew I was at Black Forest Lodge because as for the past two meetings – our National flag has been flown upside down, yes both of them on the finishing line for all three meetings this year!! Jubilee year as well!!

Guess what!  I won on the very first race, so I returned my wallet to Ruth’s handbag and had a free afternoon.  I love racing but I really love it a lot more when it is free!  The Farriers’, Members’, Subscribers’ and Farmers’ Race sent five to the post with favouritism flip flopping between Mr S Partridge & Miss E Baverstock’s KNOCK STAR (S Partridge), The G & P Partnership’s SOL MUSIC (Mr A Holdsworth) and R Oliver’s AGENT (Miss A Barnett).  I chose SOL MUSIC.  The ‘best turned out’, Mr & Mrs Penfold’s OUR FIVE KIDS was to ridden by Mrs Penfold who looked a little nervous in the paddock but we all wished her well.  My choice allowed one or two of the others to join him for the first couple of fences but then went to the front and soon took a lead of several lengths and believe it or not, that is exactly where SOL MUSIC remained, practically from flag fall to finish, out in front and earning Freddie some more shillings.  Great stuff.  First SOL MUSIC, second KNOCK STAR, third AGENT and in fourth place, Mrs J Penfold on OUR FIVE KIDS, not bad for your very first Point to Point ride.  SOL MUSIC won by 20 lengths!!

Some gentlemen from Wales provided a whisper in the next race, The Giles Fox Open Maiden Race Division One confined to 5,6 and 7 year olds, by punting lots and lots of money on Mr & Mrs Elliott’s MYSTIC WARRIOR (R Darke).  Nine went to post and as it was over a distance of 2 miles 4 furlongs, the start was immediately in front of us joining what would be the finishing straight.  The first one to make a front running mark was Mr Allen’s BOOZEANDYOULOSE (T Vaughan) who went on by several lengths followed by Mr Retter’s IRIS D’ESTRUVAL (Mr A Charles-Jones) and MYSTIC WARRIOR in third.  Mrs J Powell and Mrs M Scudamore had sent down GALLIUM another one of these ‘No recent form NH or point to point’ horses, to be ridden by R Biddlecombe.  We remember GLEVUM from the same sort of set up and that one went on to win a string of races but we are still without form for this horse as she fell.  With three fences left to jump BOOZEANDYOULOSE was still out in front but his advantage was diminishing slowly.  With two left to jump MYSTIC WARRIOR was upsides the long time leader and on rounding the turn with one left to jump this Gordon Chamber’s trained MYSTIC WARRIOR went on to win by fifteen lengths with BOOZEANDYOULOSE second and IRIS D’ESTRUVAL eight lengths back in third place.  It will be very interesting now to see how MYSTIC WARRIOR gets the three miles – I predict he will get it very well indeed.

The Second Division also saw nine at the start and I decided to invest as this appeared to be less competitive than Division One.  The horse which impressed me at Great Trethew was Lady Earle’s BREEZY BETSY (Lucy Gardner) but was a skinny price at 2 to 1.  Nevertheless I will take that price and be thankful for small mercies.  Lucy rode this one much as she did at Great Trethew as this horse has shown early speed and I never had a moments worry – well not quite – when any jockey looks behind when racing towards the last after three miles I shiver a little because I am always afraid that the horse will then become unbalanced and fall at the final fence.  It didn’t happen and BREEZY BETSY went on to win by three lengths from Mrs Harrington’s BARTON SAINT (S Walsh) with T Vaughan on Mr Thomas’s MARKET VALUE a long way back in third place.  The time (5.42) was quicker than the winner of her race at Great Trethew so well done Lucy.  The Perpetual Challenge Cup went to division one with an even faster time of 5 minutes 37 seconds.

The Haldon Group of YFCs’ Confined Hunts Race sent 12 to post and this was again a competitive event with Mrs S Messer-Bennetts’s GARNWIN (T Cave) carrying the most form points – why I don’t know, as this well bred 12 year old has never won a point to point to my knowledge and with the likes of Mrs K Nicholas’s HAPPY TEAM (L Jefford), Mr R Westacott’s WESTERN FORT (D Edwards) and Mr J Harris’s PENNYMOOR PRINCE in the field I would think that he would have his work cut out to win this one.  The Greengrass Partnership’s NEWMANS CONQUEST (M Shears) did some of the up front work for a while, as did HAPPY TEAM.  With three fences left to jump it was NEWMANS CRESCENT – hang on! He didn’t start the race but he’s in it now (not really, just a slip of the tongue from a commentator who knows so many horses that are attached to so many colours a slip occasionally is unavoidable!)  WESTERN FORT who had been happily racing along in about fifth position for most of the race was brought into it now and was soon challenging HAPPY TEAM and proved the stronger of the two and went on to win the race by five lengths from HAPPY TEAM with Mr S Redwood’s MASTER BUCKLEY (R Wonnacott) in third place.  In my opinion this was a race to take particular note of and winners will come from it.  Mr Redwood will have a winner very soon!

The Ladies Open sponsored by United Molasses brought up ten runners and the Polly Gundry ridden SAILORS FOLLY was made favourite and sure enough the Mr R Kelvin-Hughes owned grey gelding won without too much trouble in a time of 6 minutes 7seconds.  This pointer hasn’t lost a race yet except for one blip when unseating Polly at Chipley Park.  Quite happy to sit in third place for a considerable time with Miss C Stucley’s PHOENIX PHLYER and Mrs Bridges’s CHIEFTAIN’S CROWN (L Bridges) making the running.  Miss J du Plessis’s JAZZMAN (Miss A Barnett) came into the picture at the twelfth fence relegating CHIEFTAINS CROWN but SAILORS FOLLY still happily sitting in third place.  At the final open ditch, Polly made her move and sent SAILORS FOLLY on and quickly established a good lead with PHOENIX PHLYER and JAZZMAN second and third respectively a long way clear of Mrs Trueman’s LEAD STORY (T Cave).  The positions never altered and apart from a little nod at the last which gave the crowd a shock, SAILORS FOLLY went on to win by six lengths from PHOENIX FLYER and a further six lengths back was JAZZMAN.  The same owner/jockey combination are running HOBBY CYR at Stratford tomorrow and I see no reason to suggest they will not win that Hunter Chase.

Where did ZATOPEK come from? – Well he came from behind on the winning straight like his name sake ie travelling very fast, fast enough to overtake Dr I Shenkin’s SUSEJEBHA (G Shenkin) and win by 3 lengths. This was the first division of the Restricted Race and The Exmoor Partners’ ZATOPEK (M Woodward) was reported as unraced over 3m but had modest form in novice hurdles but he brought off a surprise here. The jointly owned LYDFORD CASTLE (C Heard) was third but the horse I will watch in future is Mr S Heard’s BUCKLEYS CHANCE (C Dalley) who with very little form, put up a very good performance here and was only headed late in the race.

I had my doubts about the horse they made favourite in Division Two of the Restricted Race, as the last race Mrs Sanderson’s JABIRU won was in a time of over 7 minutes, but I should not have taken any notice of that as Richard Woollacott gave this horse an excellent ride and managed to get in front of Mr D Pipe’s RAKAPOSHI LASS (A Farrant) by ¾ of a length on the line with Mr M Scudamore’s ZAFFARAN WINDS (R Biddlecombe) in third place.  The time of this race was only bettered by the winner of the Ladies Open, the difference being only a couple of seconds and with a weight difference of a stone.  The winner will win again!

The Matford Land Rover Men’s Open Race was contested by six runners and I fancied Mrs S Ash’s BELARUS (C White) but Mrs D Chanin’s CERTAIN ANGLE (D Edwards) may surprise and they are making Mr William’s WELL ARMED (A Farrant) a course specialist, favourite.  Too short a price for me so I’ll just have a few pence on a Welsh combination, Mr Flint’s MORE BILLS with young Christian Williams onboard.  I should not have done this as they did not perform very well, but Ashley Farrant gave WELL ARMED a confident ride and although CERTAIN ANGLE got close to heading him I don’t think the outcome was ever in doubt.  First WELL ARMED, second CERTAIN ANGLE and in third place Mr J Forbes’ HANGING GROVE (M Bryant).

The Confined Hunts’ Maiden Race was already in two divisions and the first one had to be further split.  Part A was very narrowly won by Mr C de P. Berry’s ALL MONTY who managed to get across in front of Mr Chanin’s ROYAL RUMOUR on the final bend and was only a neck in front on the line with Mr D Bluett’s THORNBIRD (Mr C Heard) in third place just four lengths back.

Neil Harris brought Mr Lever’s DON ROYAL home by two lengths from Mrs E Kessler’s DRUID MERILL (G Richards) in Part B with D Edwards on Mr R Westacott’s LATE TO START in third place.

The final division was yet another win for Richard Woollacott, a double for the day and bringing his total to seven, on Mr M Trickey’s TIMBER TOP with a horse with no form back in second place, Mrs E Taplin’s ANOTHER COPPER (D Edwards) and the jointly owned MASKED MARTIN (S Craddock) in third place.

As this was the final of the three meetings at Black Forest Lodge it was time to present the awards to the leading lady and gentleman riders over the three meetings.  This awards comes from the committees of the Silverton, Mid Devon and South Devon Foxhounds.  Young Edward Chanin, who continues to improve from his injuries, presented the awards - for the ladies Sam Strong and to the gentlemen Ashley Farrant.  Will someone please make sure Sam gives it to Polly Gundry?  Well done to both of you, we all appreciate your dedication.

A lot of races, but I managed to come away with some winnings and will be able to go Point to Pointing next weekend without having to borrow from Ruth.   The Western Foxhounds at Wadebridge and The Dart Vale and Haldon Harriers at Buckfastleigh are the venues – Be there!

All the best,

Fred and Ruth