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South Herefordshire
Saturday 20th March 2010
by Stella Havard


The expected rain eased the ground for the South Herefordshire Hunt point-to-point at Garnons and with clerk of the course Stan Turner and his team having done a great job of preparing it, there was no shortage of runners at the parkland course.

The smart chestnut mare Shernally made it two on the bounce at Garnons under the usual polished ride from Claire Allen in the Wye Valley Group Confined race, cantering well clear of Waynesworld.

“I’ve known Graham (Fisher) for years,” said part and owner and trainer, Dick Baimbridge. “He said he’d go halves with me when neither of us had even seen her- Claire went to Ascot on her own, and got her from Martin Oliver without spending all the budget!”

Derawar, who loves the softer ground, stayed on well with Lucy Jones to take the Robert Plant Engineers Ladies Open. “He’s only had one run at Fontwell, waiting for his favourite conditions,” explained trainer Simon Jones, who has hunted the South Pembrokeshire hounds for seven seasons. When asked if he ever got to ride Derawar at home, he laughed. “I’m not allowed- much too heavy! My wife Lucy, and Jenny (Allen) get that pleasure.” Jenny confirmed that Derawar is ‘a real star’ at home as well as on the course.

The Cobb Property Restricted Race saw 18 runners go to post, possibly one of the biggest fields at Garnons in recent times.

The Howardian put in a flawless display of jumping under Adam Wadlow, holding the rallying Creagh Bay (Ben Poste) and the improving Miss Lightning (Jeremy Mahot) to astonish and delight owner/trainer Belinda Clarke. Belinda, who is the point-to-point secretary for the Ludlow Hunt and a Quantity Surveyor ‘in my spare time!’ had feared that the big gelding would not like the softening ground. “ I am absolutely delighted with that!” she declared, “he’s my special horse, ‘my’ ride at home –the safe one!” Home is Middleton Priors near Bridgenorth, where Belinda has nine horses in training. “I’m in competition with my cousin, Phillip Rowley, and I’m only one behind now!”

The Howardian is an ex-inmate of Phillip Hobb’s yard, bought from Doncaster and given time to come to himself.

The Mens Open race, sponsored by The Castle House Hotel, Cobhall Court Stud and Roger Matthews Transport was an epic lesson in the application of determination from the highly compatible partnership of Rob Hodges and Hoh Nelson. They cantered to post relatively friendless in the betting market, with the handsome grey Worship The Stars (Tom Weston) 1-4 favourite.

Intending to test the favourite’s stamina, Rob sent the gallant bay, Hoh Nelson to the front from the drop of the flag and relentlessly kept his foot on the gas throughout the race. Hoh Nelson gave everything he had, and then found some more, so that when Tom Weston shook up Worship The Stars to improve his position four fences from home, he could not cut down the advantage, and finished five lengths adrift.

“No excuses,” commented the grey’s trainer, Maz Scudamore. “Beaten by a better horse on the day.”

Presteigne-based owner/trainer, Ann Price, who has supported point-to-pointing so ardently for many years, was almost speechless at Hoh Nelson’s gritty bravery. “He’s just so honest,” she said. “At home, he’s so laid-back, he’s horizontal. Who could ask for more?”

The Dodson & Horrell & PPORA Novice Rider’s race was a memorable one for twenty-four year-old John Flook, who rode his first winner between the flags in style. He was always handy on his uncle Steve Flook’s consistent mare No Virtue, and kicked for home three out. Nick Slatter, partnering Jim Callow’s well-fancied Murphy’s Fusilier had been displayed as ‘N Flatter’ on the number board, and so was the prophesy fulfilled. Murphy’s Fusilier fell at the last, and lay temporarily winded. Nick sprang up to reach him and Chopneynev, on his way to second place, was unable to avoid him and collided, unseating Ryan Hatch. Fortunately, all emerged unscathed.

Richard Burton partnered the winner of the first division of the Arenasgallopsand mé Maiden for 4-7 year-olds when My Flora obliged for retired Shropshire dairy farmer, Don Edwards. “This is my seventh horse with the Crows, and they’ve all won!” he revealed. The six year old mare was bred by the Crows, who have owned four generations of the family. “ Alistair’s great-grandfather bought a mare from France in the 1930’s- that’s her family,” explained Sheila Crow. “She has tremendous ability.”

The second division almost saw a double for the Flook stable, with John Flook and Josey Wells jumping the last in front and going all out for the line. But John Mathias had been popping around quietly on Lilia’s Lad, stealthily improving through the field, and the two battled bravely up the run in, Josey Wells having to concede defeat by a neck.

Lilia’s Lad was completing the course for the first time in seven runs, and trainer and part owner, David Gibbs was ecstatic. “ He’s just been very unlucky up to now, but John rode him brilliantly.”

Bought from Tim Vaughan, David Gibbs named the gelding after his granddaughter, Lilia, now four. Glen Fortt thought the name so attractive that he offered to buy a half-share, and all the connections were on hand to greet their game winner.

Jeremy Mahot sent Exit To Side into an early lead in The Taste of Wales Maiden for 8 year-olds and over, and was never headed. It was a poignant victory for Kimbolton owner-trainer, Sarah-Jayne Davies, who purchased the beautifully bred eight-year old very cheaply from Ascot as he had a reputation for being ‘quirky’. Since then he has become the yard ‘pet’ and become much more confident.

“Sarah-Jayne leaves no stone unturned with her horses,” praised Jeremy Mahot, “No-one deserves success more.”

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