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Minehead Harriers and West Somerset at Holnicote
Saturday 12th May 2018
by Bob Bracher

The picturesque course of Holnicote under Dunkery Beacon was the site for the second of two meetings held there when the Minehead Harriers and West Somerset held their annual point to point. A dry and mostly sunny day welcomed a good crowd of racegoers who enjoyed an afternoon of racing where the Welsh raiders managed to win four of the seven races including a double for leading novice Connor Brace and a first winner for Jack Tudor on his first ride. Elsewhere there was a first winner for Sean Graham and an impressive front running performance by Cona River in the Intermediate race.

The opening race, the Hunt race, gave 24 year old Sean Graham a first win on his very first point to point ride when he made virtually all the running aboard Bay to Go trained by his partner Abigail Lewis at Cheddar Gorge. Watched by many of Philip Hobbs staff for whom Sean works as his feed man this was a very popular winner although Sean did admit that the victory should have been Abigail's as without a broken collarbone sustained in a fall at Larkhill she would have ridden the twelve year old gelding. Previously owned by Heather Kemp the gelding was purchased at the end of last year by commentator Nick Child with the goal of running in the Grand Military Gold Cup but as he then took up his role in Singapore Abigail and Sean took over the horse to run in point to points. By coincidence Nick was back in England and was able to watch his former charge secure his first victory in over two years.

The biggest field of the day of eleven horses took part in the Open Maiden and it seemed that Richard Barber's Doyoumind was going to score until he unseated his rider Martin McIntyre at the second last. This left IveBeentold and Redmond Hall to duel approaching the last until Nick Lawton produced Gask Ridge to lead on the run in to prevail by a neck from Redmond Hall. Owned by a five strong partnership called the Devon Diamonds Friends and trained by Barry Sanderson at Tiverton the gelding, formerly trained under rules by Christian Williams , appreciated the faster ground and showed no ill effect of having run at the course only six days earlier.

There was a surprise result in the Novice Riders race when the most successful horse in the country William Money was beaten by High Hatton ridden by Jack Tudor by eight lengths. Always prominent High Hatton gave his rivals a jumping lesson and a day that his sixteen year old rider will never forget. Having only celebrated his birthday on the previous Wednesday this was Jack's first ride in public and something he had been looking forward to since he first started riding. His proud father Jonathan Tudor said that Jack had been riding High Hatton since the age of twelve and thought that the gelding would appreciate the better ground. Connor Brace riding the runner up was gracious in defeat saying that 'if anyone had to beat me then he was pleased that it was Jack' and added that they had ridden in a number of pony races together.

Connor soon got on the winner mark for the meeting when Pink Eyed Pedro was too good for his three rivals in the Mixed Open race. In a very slow run race Pink Eyed Pedro owned by his grandfather David had three lengths to spare over Abyaat ridden by Nick Lawton and then made it a double for the day aboard Robin des People again owned by his grandfather in the Conditions Race. David had only flown back from Marbella where he was undertaking a project in the morning to see his grandson ride his sixteenth and seventeenth victories of this season.

There was a fourth Welsh victory on the day in the Restricted race but this was another turn up when outsider Alottamo ridden by Ben Jones stayed on to beat The Quarterjack ridden by George Hiscock by four lengths. Owned and trained by Scarlett Major at Bridgend the mare had shown little this season but the better ground and the shorter trip seemed to play to her strengths. Due to be partnered by Connor Brace until he was claimed to ride another horse for his grandfather Ben had never sat on the winner until the race but proved to be a good substitute.

Josh Newman was another substitute rider to score on the day as he stood in for the injured Martin McIntyre aboard Ed and Claire Hitch's Cona River in the Intermediate race. Setting off in front his jumping after the first few fences was excellent and despite being challenged by Sixteen Letters ridden by Will Biddick over the final two fences he still had two lengths in hand at the winning post. Now a winner of a maiden, restricted and intermediate this season the eight year old is one of the most improved horses in training in the South West and a credit to his connections.

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