by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

We reached Vauterhill Farm early as is our wont and because traffic was very quiet on the roads we chose to use.  A very cold wind was blowing as I walked the course.  So early that no one else was there for me to accompany on this occasion.  I found the course in really good condition and the run through at the bottom, which has been a little sticky in the past, was now dry and the use of the disc harrow to cut up a little made it quite acceptable.  I have not seen a list of entries but no doubt there will be enough declared to make a good days point to pointing.

Because we are early it gives me a good chance to see the boxes arrive and to witness the amount of work that goes into providing a runner or two or even three, for the days enjoyment.  Dedication and efficiency are keywords with the trainers, staff and owners, in particular the small owner who manages to get his/her single box to the venue carrying the pride and joy of all the family and being towed by the van which tomorrow will be carrying the children to school.  Thanks to all of you!

We had a very pleasant surprise when someone recognised our vehicle number plate.  I have previously emailed Cynthia (who updates jockey Darren Edwards’s web page the details of our vehicle and probably the model number of our gas stove, which is always evident, because she runs off these pages and gives them to Anne who is a Point to Point enthusiast to read.  Well it was very nice to meet Anne and I trust you had a lucrative day.  Bring Cynthia next time!  Hurry – the season’s getting close to the end.

Whilst I am on the subject of jockeys I will let you all know that Tabitha Cave is recovering from a fall off her own horse at Coldharbour on Sunday.  She was airlifted to Shrewsbury hospital where x-rays found nothing broken but I don’t think lipstick and powder will be on the shopping list for a day or two because she landed on a stake keeping the wing up, face first.  Lots of sewing was needed but pretty young skin joins quickly!  Get well soon and rejoin us Tabitha, we need you!

The first race, The Clinton Devon Estates, Victoria Saw Mills Member’, Subscribers’ & Farmers’ Race saw four go to post.  I puzzled over whether to do the forecast or a single bet. When I asked for a forecast of MY choice I was promptly told – only THEIR choice was acceptable.  This to me is unfair!  Their choice (the bookies) as they write up on the board states that Mr Bond’s WESTCOUNTRY LAD (Richard Woollacott) must win and you can choose the second from the remaining runners.  My argument was that I didn’t think he would win as at Trebudannon; I thought he was all out at the end of the race although he did win it by half a length.  I wanted The 3 to 1 Club’s CHANGE ridden by Tim Dennis to be the winner and WESTCOUNTRY LAD to be the runner up!  No, they wouldn’t do it so I stuck all my money on CHANGE at four to one.  Whaaa!  CHANGE won and so did I!  It was a race to the line but my investment got home by a length and the Lawrence’s DRUMBANES PET which was the best turned out came in third several lengths back.  More singing, whistling, and ‘did you get that one?  I did! ‘  I didn’t feel the cold wind although several hundred spectators did, but while they complained about the temperature I was looking for a bigger tin!

The Thomas Westcott Gillard Heal (Accountants) Restricted Race saw a good field of eleven go to post. A clear favourite evolved at a skinny price of two to one – D Hooper’s CASTLEHALE (Jenny Congdon) but The Chanin’s ROYAL RUMOUR (Richard Woolacott) was also taking money and came down to 3 to1.  David Stephens was also popular, as he will be riding his SHARETON, which has been placed a couple of times and is now 5 to 1 in the betting.  Mandy Hand is riding the Turner owned WOODLAND KING who has form but has not been seen for a while.  Tricky this one!  There is some necessary in the tin but I don’t want to waste it on frivolous thoughts – or do I like Mrs Ackner’s HORRIFIED (Darren Edwards) enough to lever the lid off and pull out just a little.  No! I will leave it alone and perhaps double up next time!  I am pleased I did as I would not have been very happy with the result as it was a good race and the syndicate owned HENRY’S SONG well ridden by Richard Darke came home the winner by a neck from Mandy on WOODLAND KING with CASTLEHALE third just a length back.  One could have got 8 to 1 about the winner, possibly more.  This was run at a good pace and recorded a very sensible time. (6m 29s)

Only three to run in The Brendon Group Mixed Open Race and here we have our friend, the Lawrence’s SQUADDIE: remember the horse that gave the little lady £50 for £1 stake.  Well SQUADDIE (A Middleton) is favourite but Ben Trickey is riding Sally Messer-Bennett’s GARNWIN who doesn’t know what a ‘1’ in his form looks like but did a lot better on his last run so his price is down to two to one where SQUADDIE is thirteen to eight.  I am wagering on GARNWIN to win on this occasion.  Fool I am!  First past the post SQUADDIE by three lengths, then GARNWIN with SPACE CAPPA (V Stephens) a long way back in third.  Will I never learn?

The confined race is sponsored by Seldon War & Nuttall.  Five will go to post.  The tin is out and its contents, yes! all of it is in my hand and although I may have to bet at odds-on I will do so as this is, as near to a racing certainty I will get.  The Young family’s FOSSY BEAR is my choice and I am sure Sue will bring this one home for its hat trick of wins this season.  The opposition is the jointly owned GROOVING (R Darke), R Westacott’s WESTERN FORT (D Edwards) R Skinner’s FERN LEADER (R Woolacott) and the best turned out Mrs Prouse’s HENSUE.  Others might have had worries but I had none throughout the race.  First number 6 – FOSSY BEAR, second number 8 – GROOVING and third number 19 – WESTERN FORT.  I love this feeling and its one of the reasons I like the computers the bookies use – you can show the less fortunate that you had the winner – name and how much - good and proper!  Well they do it to me!

The tin isn’t big enough now so I’ll keep my eye open for a lightweight trailer for the journey home.   I am on Mrs Nicholas’s HAPPY TEAM (D Edwards) for the Intermediate ‘Q’ Race which is also the ‘best turned out’.  This is a very competitive race and Andrew Congdon’s WILD BAVARD is made favourite but not by very much.  Rame Fell’s MR THURLSTONE, Mr Heath’s grey KANTURK GENERAL and Mrs Seage’s BORDER ROSE are very close in the betting.  Off they go! BORDER ROSE and SEA URCHIN were slow starters.  SEA URCHIN soon made up ground but BORDER ROSE never did!  BLAZING MIRACLE and KANTURK GENERAL soon had a lead with CAPTAIN RANDOM and MR THURLSTONE  disputing third place.  With a circuit to go KANTURK GENERAL from MR THURLSTONE with SEA URCHIN taking much closer order.  Five lengths would cover the six leading horses.  The horses out the back were WILD BAVARD and BORDER ROSE.  As the pace increased so did the lead of SEA URCHIN and Dominic Alers-Hankey rode out a very well judged race to win by fifteen lengths from BLAZING MIRACLE and HAPPY TEAM who were separated only by a head.  Questions will be asked about one or two runners in that race as some performances were well below what was expected.  I lost a little but have no complaints!  Ruth is smiling again as she invested on the ability of one – Dominic Alers-Hankey at six to one to win the race – he did!!

The last two races were divisions of Open Maidens and went to Colin Heard riding Mrs Martin & Mrs Keatley’s EAGLE HILL and Richard Darke riding Mrs Edwards & Mr Warren’s VALMAN.  Ruth picked up more on the latter and drove home smiling all the way.  We managed without a trailer but only just. 

We have had three marvellous days pointing and will be off again on Friday.  We will be at the West Somerset and Minehead Harriers at Holnicote on Saturday 11th May and the Tetcott Foxhounds at Lifton on Sunday 12th May.  I have heard that the course at Lifton has been repaired and should run much better than it did last time.  I also see that Mr Ansell will be bringing MISTER CONE and NEVER A DULL MOMENT to run there and he has sought the services of Alex Charles-Jones to ride both of them. 

To all those ‘out’ at present, get well soon.  See you all there!  Cheers Fred & Ruth