A huge crowd enjoyed a pleasant Spring afternoon when the Mendip
Farmers staged their Point-to-Point at Ston Easton, between Shepton
Mallet and Bath, on Sunday. Highlights included doubles for Polly
Gundry and Richard Young and first-ever wins for Charlie Studd and
18-year-olds Ed Kenney-Herbert and Rachel Green.
Springford and Choc set a fast pace throughout the opening Hunt race. Springford looked to have the upper hand but fell at the last, leaving Choc to record a comfortable 30 length success. Choc is owned and trained at Banwell by Venetia Kenney-Herbert and was a first-ever win for her 18-year-old son Ed, currently working at Jelly Nolan's Naunton stables before going to Oxford University in October.
Division 1 of the 2½ mile Open Maiden was divided on the day. Part 1 went to Richard Young aboard Fair Sprite, prominent throughout before holding off the promising Hachley. Fair Sprite is trained by Louise Alner for father Robert, who bought the horse a year ago from Tom Costello.
Despite not relishing the ground, Gipsy Cricketer and Robert Biddlecombe led throughout Part 2 to beat favourite The Kings Fling. The winner, who ran under Rules for Nigel Twiston-Davies, is trained by Marilyn Scudamore for a syndicate of Cheltenham-based cricket fans, headed by Chris Coley.
The Richard Barber-trained Master Florian was far from fluent in the early stages of Division 2 but warmed to his task for a comfortable win under Polly Gundry. Master Florian was bought privately as a yearling by owner, Ken Manley of Westerham, Kent and is related to Ken's Scottish Grand National winner, Moorcroft Boy. Master Florian may have just one more run before joining Paul Nicholls to run under Rules.
Bankit made all under a fine ride by three times National Champion Julian Pritchard to take the Restricted Race. Bankit is one of six point-to-pointers trained at Denchworth, near Wantage, by Mat Hazell, who hopes to run Tubber Roads in the Liverpool Foxhunters. Winning owner-breeder Sheila Nash from Kingston Lisle has a long association with the sport - her late husband, Colin, trained that great horse Baulking Green in his early Point-to-Point and Hunter Chase career 40 years ago.
Polly Gundry completed her double when Charlie Strong led three out to win the Mixed Open from Our Man Flin, the only other finisher. Charlie Strong, owned and trained at Maristow, near Plymouth, by Richard Kelvin-Hughes, is likely to be targeted at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase evening in May.
The Novice Riders' race went to Miners Dance, who held off Basincroft by a length with Frys Lane in third. This was a first ever win for 23-year-old University of West of England student Charlie Studd, riding in his eighth race. Miners Dance, who scored a hat-trick of wins under Rules for Tom McGovern and Tony McCoy last season, was bought by Charlie's father, John, at Doncaster in May 2001.
Richard Young, deputising for the injured Rilly Goschen, completed his double aboard Not Yet Decent in Division 1 of the Open Maiden. The horse is trained at Holwell, near Sherborne, by Mark Gillard, a former assistant trainer to Peter Walwyn, and was a second career winner for owners Tim and Annabel Seegar of Westerham, Kent.
Eighteen-year-old Rachel Green scored her first riding success when Ski Seal was an easy winner of Division 2. Rachel works for Robert Alner and is jockey Anthony Honeyball's girlfriend. Ski Seal, trained by Anthony's mother Sue, was bred by David Bell and was a first ever winner for owner Roy Wilkins, a farmer from Henley near Langport.