A welcome reappearance by the sun ensured the sizeable crowd enjoyed the day's events at the Devon & Somerset Staghounds point to point meeting at Holnicote on Sunday. For young jockey Jack Tudor it was a chance to revisit the course he had ridden his first ever winner on twelve months ago and he was rewarded with a double courtesy of Sing The Anthem and High Hatton. Will Biddick notched another winner in a tight finish and Bryan Carver continued to add to his season's tally.
The Hunt Members race is one of the more popular of its kind possibly due to the huge bronze trophy of a stag presented to winning connections. In the last few seasons there has been a friendly rivalry between Mark Pendarves and Maurice Scott as to who was to house the trophy for the forthcoming year and it was the former who prevailed on this occasion with Hurlstone Point who narrowly denied De Boitron with favourite Kapricorne back in third. Maurice Scott's Steel Brush who had won this contest last year was further back in 4th but should strip fitter next time as this was his seasonal debut. Mark explained that his homebred-mare who is a half-sister to Neville, had needed plenty of time and he hoped that she would be good enough to go Novice Chasing next season. Named after a point on the coast visible from the course, Hurlstone Point is trained by Mark at Porlock Vale House which is where the 1952 Olympic Eventing team were trained.
The young horse Maiden became a stroll round for Matt Hampton and Bubble O'Clock after his sole opponent So When unceremoniously dumped Will Biddick at the start. The winner was owned, trained and ridden by Matt Hampton and had been bought from Paul Nichols after showing some form over hurdles. Treated by Piers Wilmot (a manual therapist of Equine Osteopathy), he certainly put in a fine display of jumping on his solo trip including some spectacular leaps in front of the crowd. He had shown plenty of promise in his pointing debut at Charlton Horethorne and should be capable of going on to better things
The first leg of Jack Tudor's double came in the Open Maiden when Sing The Anthem confirmed the promise he had shown in two pointing bumpers. Trained by Jonathan Tudor for The Anthem Partnership, which included his brother-in-law Jeff Bird, the five year old won comfortably by 8 lengths from Thelastwon. Still quite an unfurnished lengthy gelding, he should come on a lot for this run. For his beautifully bred sire Eastern Anthem, who stands at Withyslade Stud in Wiltshire alongside Indian Haven and Kier Park, this was a first ever winner in the UK.
The Novice Riders Race was a showcase duel between two talents for the future – Jack Tudor and Luca Morgan. With Jack back on High Hatton, his debut pointing winner at this course a year ago and Luca on Gingili, the two matched strides for most of the way until High Hatton hit a fence down the backstretch giving Gingili the advantage. However turning for home High Hatton again regained the lead and was just over 2 lengths to the good at the finish. Jack said his horse had clouted the fence and sulked confessing it was possibly down to rider error. Owned again by the Bird family, High Hatton comes from a long line of family horses and had been bought at Ascot Sales for £3,000. Jeff Bird explained "he's such a lovely character and so good to hunt that everyone in the yard is queuing up for him when he retires."
The Mixed Open went to favourite Tree Sparrow ridden by Bryan Carver and trained by Camilla Scott. Market rival, Guy Disney on Gallery Exhibition suffered a stirrup issue and pulled up with a circuit to run leaving Tree Sparrow to win cosily from Northgeorge. With the trainer absent, owner John Pengelly explained that the horse had suffered with his wind and a subsequent operation had made a real difference. A winner at Bratton Down for the last two seasons, he will now head back there and would be more than capable of achieving the hat-trick in this form.
Will Biddick was convinced he had won the Conditions Race as he returned to the winner's enclosure despite protestations from the runners-up and the judge confirmed Dragon de la Tour had indeed prevailed by a neck. Trained by Neil McLean, Dragon de la Tour had been described as "unreliable and inconsistent" but this third win of the season showed he was far from such and his connections thought he may too probably head to Bratton Down next.
Byron Moorcroft who had been denied in the previous photo finish took the finale Restricted on Deshan for trainer Luke Price. An impressive winner previously at Cotley this season, Byron settled the gelding in behind Minella Rising biding his time. With his opponent pulling up before the last, Deshan was able to coast home. Explaining his last run when he pulled up at Bonvilston to be on the sharp side, Byron felt that the gelding was happier on a course where stamina was necessary.