Twelve months ago the hugely popular Easter Bank Holiday Taunton Vale point to point meeting at Kingston St Mary was lost to waterlogging. Fast forward to 2019 and it was back to business as usual with a huge crowd basking in glorious sunshine enjoying picnics and keeping both the Beer Tent and ice cream vendors extremely busy. An early scare with the watering resulted in one fence being omitted but the organisers had worked hard and there were no issues. It was a day of doubles for jockeys Will Biddick and Ryan Withey and trainer Teresa Clark.
Locally based Teresa is one of the rare trainers who hunts her horses properly and she was rewarded with her double on the day courtesy of Mujadel in the Hunt Members and Willem in the Veteran/Novice Riders Conditions Race. In the Hunt Race Mujadel was allowed to coast home in his own time under Matt Hampton after his sole opponent, Annwyl pulled up (reportedly struck into herself). Teresa bought Mujadel from the Noel Meade yard for long-time supporter Ray Barrow and this was his second win of the year having taken a maiden at Wadebridge in January. His 7th run of the season, the attractive 6yo gelding by Derby winner Sinndar has been in the winner's enclosure on every run and will now have a well-deserved holiday. He could be a nice type for next season when he strengthens up further.
Teresa's second win was courtesy of Willem under an excellent ride by Gordon Treacy in the Veteran/Novice Riders Race. It won him the Ride of the Day judged by Taunton Vale Master, Guy Landau who was impressed at the way he put the race to bed going up the hill in an enterprising move to beat the odds-on Gingili by 30 lengths. Formerly with David Pipe, Willem is now owned by the Only Fools Buy Horses Partnership comprised of Sean Finn, Darren Marshall, Naomi Roe, Steph Bristow, Paul and Tracy Bargary. Willem seems to thrive at this time of the year having won in April last year and May in 2017 both under Bryan Carver.
Teresa was denied a treble on the day when the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate produced the closest finish of the day with favourite Doctor's Differ just holding off her Prince of Poets by just over a length. Owned, trained and ridden by George Hiscock, Doctor's Differ was following up his win at Larkhill at the end of March and clearly enjoys this quicker ground. If none the worse for his exertions, he may well go for the series final at Cheltenham on May 3rd.
Arcal Fifty was made favourite for the Restricted race which saw the biggest field of the day. He had to settle for second best however after Will Biddick managed to cajole Dragon de la Tour to a 15 length win after surviving a blunder at the second last. Will explained afterwards "you can't use a whip on him as he just curls up but he was definitely the best horse in the race." Trainer Neil McClean was completing an across the West Country double having scored with Earthly Reason at Trebudannon. Formerly owned by Peter Musgrave, Dragon de la Tour was sold to the Big Brook Racing Club but Peter then decided to take out a share with them. Peter's wife Kathy had thought he'd win at Milborne St Andrew having gone 10 lengths clear before fading into 3rd but was thrilled by his win here as it is her local course.
Both Maidens resulted in sole finishers ridden by Ryan Withey. The early young horse maiden went to Willie's Dream for a delighted Hawker family and owner Sharon Lee. Sent on early by Ryan, he put the sole schooling sessions he had been doing at home to good use. Sharon had bred the 6yo gelding by Dream Eater from her mare Willie's Witch, unraced having broken her pelvis at a very young age. The mare had also produced Willie's Way, a 6 time winner under Rules. The final Maiden was won by Aero Majestic for trainer Max Young who had only picked him up very recently for £600 having spotted that the horse had reasonable maiden form when trained by David Pipe. Ryan put the horse's jumping experience to good use and he was far too good for his opponent who pulled up after struggling to keep tabs on the winner.
The Mixed Open only had one horse declared and former classy pointer Ballyknock Cloud and Will Biddick merely went through the formalities. He should however be noted where he goes next as he had decent form when last running in points and could be forgiven an unsuccessful stint under Rules. He certainly catches the eye on looks in the paddock.
Two pony races preceded the main racing and were both won by the extremely talented 11 year old Edward Vaughan who won the 138cm race on Little Replacement despite a determined challenge from Kelsie Bielby on Veno Star. The second race was much easier and his White Water cantered home in her own time. Many future stars of the saddle have cut their teeth on the Pony Racing circuit and Edward certainly looks to be worthy of going into the notebooks.