by Brian & Gill Armstrong

A large crowd enjoyed competitive racing at the Minehead Harriers & West Somerset Foxhounds point-to-point meeting at Holnicote on Saturday. There were doubles for riders Alex Charles-Jones and Colin Heard, but the undoubted highlight was the Intermediate victory of Dromod Point, leased for the day by South Barrow-based Len Vickery in a 1 deal struck in a local public house the previous evening. 

The opening Restricted race went to Breezy Betsy and Alex Charles-Jones deputising for Lucy Gardner, who had been held up in traffic.  Breeze Betsy is owned and trained at Crediton by Lady Dide Earle, formerly a public trainer in Ireland, where she bought the horse privately.  Breezy Betsy will now be offered for sale at Doncaster Sales on May 27th. 

Beadnell Bay led four out to take Division One of the Open Maiden under 22-year-old Shaftesbury rider, Mark Shears.  Beadnell Bay was a present from breeder John Dufosee to son Sean and daughter-in-law Allison to celebrate their 1997 wedding.  Sean was present on Saturday with son, Henry, but Allison was at home with 6-month-old daughter, Jemima Jane.  Division Two resulted in a deserving victory for Sir William, who stayed on strongly under Wheddon Cross rider Darren Edwards.  Sir William is trained at Bishops Nympton by Keith Cumings for retired South Molton farmer, Richard Westacott, who bought the horse from breeder Len Bond after seeing him run in a Mounsey Hill Gate point-to-point two years ago. 

Alex Charles-Jones completed his double when Tim Sprake's Jackson Hill made all the running for an impressive win in the Mixed Open.  Jackson Hill is trained at Milborne Wick by Jonathan Sprake, who was keen to credit his wife, Sarah, for all the work she does with the horse. 

There was a dramatic sequel to the Novice Riders' race when the first three home - Heavy Hustler, Out 'N' About and Bells Wood - were disqualified for taking the wrong course when by-passing the 9th/16th fence, dolled off while injured Merv Woodward received attention.  The race was awarded to Hazel Goody's Frank Byrne, while credit must go to his 22-year-old Sturminster Newton rider, Stuart Hayes, for taking the correct course after the leaders had gone the wrong way. 

Enormous cheers greeted Intermediate winner Dromond Point, a 150th point-to-point winner for 2000 National Champion winner Leslie Jefford.  Dromond Point is owned and trained at West Camel by Nick and Kim Case, but ran in the colours of Len Vickery, who leased the horse for the day in a 1 deal struck in the Sparkford Inn the previous evening after the horse had run in a Wincanton Hunter Chase.  Caterer, Kim, was absent preparing dinner at John Gosden's Manton stables, but a sizeable contingent from the Blackmore Vale country were last seen making plans for a long celebration! 

The Confined went to Zatopek, who caught pacesetter Bowden Surprise three out for an 8-length success.  Zatopek is trained at Simonsbath by Lucinda Roberts for six friends - John Atkins, Barry Fowler, Henry Prout, Dave Whitehouse, Gerald Winzer and Brian Holford - who meet regularly at the Exford Social Club to discuss plans for the horse.  Zatopek was partnered by 38-year-old Boscastle dairy farmer, Colin Heard, former apprentice to Major Dick Hern, deputising for the injured Merv Woodward. 

Colin completed his double in the closing Hunt race when the Polly Curling-trained Hylters Chance survived a bad mistake three out to catch Space Cappa at the last.  Hylters Chance is owned by North Curry farmer John Hebditch, Jilly Cook of Wiveliscombe, Devon & Somerset Staghounds MFH Maurice Scott and Minehead vet Phil Browne.