The Devon & Somerset Staghounds held their point-to-point in showery conditions at Holnicote near Minehead on Saturday. Highlights included a riding double for Boscastle dairy farmer Colin Heard, whose son Liam achieved the same feat at the Modbury Harriers meeting at Flete Park.
The opening Hunt race went to Porlock Hill, who made most of the running under Neil Harris and forged clear when challenged four out. Porlock Hill is trained by Jeremy Scott at his stables on the edge of Wimbleball Lake near Dulverton and is owned by staunch Chelsea fan Gary Lever, who bought the horse privately from Sue Popham after he had failed to reach his reserve at Ascot Sales last year.
In the Intermediate race Dancing Fosenby was prominent throughout and went clear from three out for an easy success. Dancing Fosenby is trained at Upham, near Winchester, by Penny Lownds and is owned by The Mighty Friends, a group of five friends headed by winning rider Michael “Curly” Holdforth.
The Marsh Private Clients/TBA PPORA Open Maiden Mares race was divided on the day. Division One saw a very popular success for Hugh Thomas aboard Miss Illustrious, who held off only other finisher So Peaceful by a length after leaders Vexford Deltic and Purple Patch had fallen at the second last. Miss Illustrious is owned and trained by Hugh and wife Barbara at their home at Blackmoor Gate near the Bratton Down course and was an eighth career win for Hugh, who made his debut in 1977 when riding against his father Ricky at Belmont. Division Two resulted in an easy win for Rosalee Royale, who made all the running under Colin Heard. Rosalee Royale is trained at Tiverton by owner Sarah Kittow who bought the horse as a five-year-old from Newmarket trainer John Berry.
Colin Heard completed his double when Quickswood held the challenge of Cool Wager to win the Confined race. Quickswood is trained at Brushford, near Dulverton, by Lucinda Roberts, who bought the horse out of Robin Barwell’s stable last year, and carries the colours of the Double XX Partnership, a group of friends with Exmoor and Sussex connections.
The Restricted race went to Caundle Chase, who just prevailed after a sustained duel with runner-up Just Lark to give 20-year-old Sealehayne College student William White his second riding success. Caundle Chase is owned and trained at Henstridge by William’s mother and stepfather Sheena and Peter Doggrell and was welcome tonic for Peter, recovering in hospital from a broken hip sustained while exercising the horse the previous weekend.
There was a close finish to the Mixed Open when Paymaster and Julian Pritchard held the challenge of Travelling Jack by ½ length with Sir William the same distance back in third. Paymaster, winner of this year’s Lady Dudley Cup at Chaddesley Corbett, is trained at Naunton by Jelly Nolan and is owned jointly by Adrian Auer, Johnny Eddis and Rupert Sweeting, who bought the horse in New Zealand three years ago.
The closing 567&8yo Open Maiden race was won by River Dante who forged well clear from five out under Ollie Jackson. River Dante is trained at Rackenford by Linda Blackford for a partnership of 15 London barristers who bought the horse at Doncaster sales in May 2002. The partnership is headed by QC David Cocks, who won several races in the 1960s on a good point-to-pointer, Dix-huit.