by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

The seagulls in Newquay have a dawn chorus about 7am but we did not hear a thing - why? We were on our way to the Point to Point at Chipley Park. We were informed that eleven races were on the card with a further two races possible if splits were necessary so a good day was envisaged. Weather was poor, rain and wind but I know the land at Chipley Park can take rain but will also provide an orange slush about three quarters of an inch deep once stepped on a couple of times. The little 4 x 4 slid nicely into position on the edge of the course just past the finishing line. We walked the course and it is strange land up there. Slushy water on top but try and dig your heel in and snap there goes another kneecap, well not quite, but I hope you get the picture.

The first announcement let us all know that there would be eleven races and if any were over subscribed a ballot would take place. I was impressed with the lovely new marker board; this is a classy affair, extremely clear and detailed. Unfortunately the 'operator', not a lady like Wadebridge but an athletic young gentleman who nipped up the 5 stave ladder, stuck the numbers and names in and slid them along. He had not been informed that if you keep pushing along the names fall out the other end and you have to nip down, through the one inch red mud, pick up your fallen jockey name, nip back and up the ladder again. Needless to say this only happened once. Seriously though, a great improvement!

This number of races demands that the organisation works really well. Well I can say that it did, really well. Horseboxes were towed in and out sensibly. All things ran to time, details were announced accurately, horses were encouraged to parade on time, yes all things went well and the last race was over with all business done by 4.30 pm. Well Done Tiverton Foxhounds! Ruth had her computer with her so results were printed and a copy to the Secretary 20 minutes after close of racing. We stopped at a public house outside Wellington and faxed a copy to Kath ready for the Internet before leisurely driving home. I sang a couple of Glen Campbell melodies to Ruth to cheer her up as the miles flashed by, including a rendering of Rhinestone Cowboy because, as you have guessed, we both came out on top.

I would like to pass a message to that charming couple who lost all their money at Wadebridge and when they returned home to Devon they found that the electric had been cut off. I know the feeling well, when I too have taken the money out of the tin and instead of putting it in the meter, pocketed it and then given it to a friendly bookie! I trust you won at you local track. See you on Sunday and you can borrow from Ruth!

Dawn has asked for a lift to Chipley just like last year but unfortunately with all our gear, picnic and now computer bag and printer we were crowded out but I hoped she would manage a lift with someone else as like last year her sister's horse was running in the first race.

I did not see Dawn but nevertheless in The Stags Members, Subscribers' and Farmers' Race Mrs K M Sanderson's JABIRU (R.Woollacott) carried my money and duly obliged well and truly in a slow run race, with Mr J Harris's PENNYMOOR PRINCE (C White) coming second, seven lengths back.

The Matford Landrover Mixed Open Race had a class field of 14 runners. The bookies board definitely told the truth (?) as the four most well backed horses took the first four positions. Mrs E Davis's MOLLYCARRSBREKFAST (Miss S Robinson) was impressive although only coming fourth but he had set the pace for most of the way only to be got at near the end by the first three. They will all win again and must rate as the ones to watch. The time of 6m 29 secs was a lot quicker than the previous race and eventually turned out to be the fastest of the day. The jointly owned FANFARON (L Jefford) second will probably reverse the placings if he meets Mr K Biggins & Mr R Blackburn's ESCARTEFIGUE (Mr G Barfoot-Saunt) without penalty. Mr R Kelvin-Hughes's HOBBYCYR (Miss P Gundry) has improved and travelled well but the seven pounds over ESCARTEFIGUE probably told the tale. A good race with class telling

I was told by whom I know not that I had to 'invest' in a horse called LONGSTONE LAD if it runs! Now how many times have I heard that, quite a few, some with luck but the majority without but when I saw that this horse was running in The Newton Abbot Racecourse Intermediate Championship Qualifying Race with Richard Woollacott riding I thought I had better take more notice. Fifteen went to post and yes! I invested a little on 'my whisper'. Mr E Ford's LILLIEPLANT (L Stephens) was well fancied but unfortunately came unstuck and fell whilst leading. My horse was well back when the field started down the far side for the last time with Mr A Tizzard's AGILE KING (Miss C Tizzard), which was well fancied, going well. On reaching the open ditch for the last time Richard must have pressed the button because my 'investment' had made up ground and was running with the first three. With three plain fences left to jump my horse was lying second to AGILE KING. At the last they were in the air together with my horse on the inside. The tape recording now is being obliterated by my shouts and the commentators voice only just audible. These two well clear of the remainder as they crossed the line together. That horrible sound of 'this is one for the Judge!' rang out in my ears. As the connections of LONGSTONE LAD ran past me to lead him back I heard Richard say "Did I get it?" This does not help the nerves a lot when even the jockey doesn't know if he has won or not. I attempted to run to the winners' enclosure but it was a case of one forward, two sideways and sometimes - one back. I eventually arrived to see the mud splattered LONGSTONE LAD being led into the winner's enclosure. Won by a neck! A very exciting race with the third place going to Mr J Smith's TEN BOB NOTE (M Walters) seven lengths back. I rang for Securicor but they do not have any four wheel drive vehicles so I stuck it in Ruth's handbag with the necessary promises of 'return to owner' being written on my race card. I have since picked it up but was charged for SAFE KEEPING if you have ever heard of such a thing!

The two Divisions of The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Race followed with 12 runners in the first division followed by 11 runners in the second. Miss T McCurrich & Mrs S Cartridge's HENRY BRUCE (E Gretton) started well and was leading a tightly packed group over the first of the ditches. He continued in the lead whilst most of the others took turns in running second; mainly Mrs H Goody's FRANK BYRNE (S Hayes) and Mr M Pipe's KINGSBRIDGE (T Eades), but he came away from the final open ditch still in the lead. He maintained his position and crossed the line three lengths in front of HENRY BRUCE with STORM FORECAST third, seven lengths back. Did HENRY BRUCE wear blinkers before when he was the class act?

The form for Miss S West & Mr J Barnes's THE BOLD ABBOT (Miss S West) stated that he is "a fading light now", but several serious punters readily grabbed the 14 to 1 and 12 to 1, which was offered about this horse and reaped the benefits of sticking to a good horse. "Not faded very much has he" stated one lucky supporter who had difficulty in handling his wallet whilst trying to stand up in sticky stuff. Mrs J Wilkinson's ITS GRAND, well ridden by the owner, followed him home with Mr G Thomas's ARDBEI (S Thomas) third.

Only two finished in the Agrownomics Restricted Race Division One with Miss M Barnett fighting out the finish on Mr R Oliver's PALLINGHAM LAD and Dominic Alers Hankey on Mr R Pudd's COOL WAGER. That's the way they finished after a good tussle with the distance on the line being half a length.

Four Divisions of maiden races followed and an exception to the norm, I continued to pick up a little and Ruth did very well. Please don't think because I have not gone into detail that these races were any less exciting than the others - they were not! Distances on the line and times for Maidens were very good and the track stood up to this amount of racing incredible well. Mr W J Day's SILVER POT BLACK (Mr A Price) collected the Cup for the fastest time of all four Divisions.

Well Done Tiverton Foxhounds, it was a great days racing and I do hope everyone picked up enough to pay their electric bills!

See you all on Sunday at Mid Devon Foxhounds Black Forest Lodge for another great days Point to Pointing. I'm sure I will be singing 'It's a Wonderful World' on the way home.