Tiverton Staghounds hosted the penultimate Point-to-Point meeting of the season last Sunday where a huge crowd gathered to enjoy some competitive racing at the stunning location of Bratton Down, Bratton Fleming.
As expected the outside raiders, trainers and jockey's turned up to contest the races, most notably the Greenslade Taylor Hunt-sponsored Ladies Open race which went the way of the prolific winning gelding Start Royal for the Alan Hill team. Ni Sin E Mo Ainm for jockey Alexandra Bell, had been backed into odds on favourite, but young jockey Isabel Williams, who had been currently lying second in the National Ladies Novice Championship, had set off at a strong pace on Start Royal. The following pack, lead by Ni Sin E Mo Ainm (which stands for That's Not My Name) tried to challenge but quickly faded. Green Royal under current Leading Lady Novice rider Alice Stevens, briefly took up the running over the last, but hung badly towards the paddock, allowing Start Royal to be driven up again to win the race by six lengths. Delighted Hill commented "He was a 4000 purchase from Ferdy Murphy, he is a lunatic at home, I ride him out every day, he wont go upsides anything else. I just have to pop him up through the woods and over some logs. He has won every year for the past ten years.Although he is 14, we don't plan to retire him yet." Both Isabel Williams and Alice Stevens
Are now joint leaders in the National Ladies Novice title and will surely be attending the final meeting this coming weekend.
The opening Members race had been sponsored by Winston Pincombe Landrovers. The race had only attracted two on the day, with the bookies having made Top Chief (Stuart Sampson) under talented young jockey Bryan Carver the 4/6 fav, with the Keith Cumings-trained Whenharrymetsally under Matt Hampton at even money. It was a tactical race on the first circuit, with Top Chief soon asserting on the second, and had a healthy lead of about ten lengths over the last. Owned jointly by John Gardener and Terry Hamlin, the delighted owners stated " If he comes out of this fine, then there is a possibility that he may go summer jumping with Colin Tizzard."
Six lined up for the Witheridge Garage-sponsored Open Maiden race, with the blinkered Sapphire Noire under Keiran Buckley for the Katherine Hawke team sent off 2-1 favourite. He didn't disappoint his followers when bouncing back to form, having pulled up previously on their latest outing at Upcott Cross, but taking this race decisively by eight lengths. Katherine Hawke trains the Pointers, whilst her husband Nigel is a familiar face on the National Hunt circuit. She stated " We are delighted, she has finally found the fast ground that she loves."
Only two contested the Intermediate race which was sponsored by Exmoor Hay & Straw, with Desert Roe under jockey Jack Tudor, and Give Us Peace ridden by Will Biddick. Desert Roe had been sent off the odds on favourite, and although his form stated he prefers some give in the ground he handled the going perfectly here. It started off as a tightly matched race with little to choose between the two even over the final fence, until Tudor kicked on his mount Desert Roe up the steep hill home, going onto win by nine lengths. Jack Tudor was the youngest jockey to win on the day at only 16 years of age, he works for his father Jonathan and it was his fifth win Pointing. He looks to be a jockey to follow in the future.
Mont Choisy for trainer Mickey Bowen, had been heavily backed into favourite in the Fire Defence Services Mens Open race, but fell at the second last, leaving a clear path for the following pack. This was headed by the Harriet Brown-trained Theatre Evening. Jockey Rex Dingle had no hesitation in squeezing on his mount to battle on up the hill hanging on for a three quarter-length win on Theatre Evening, with Dandan (Tommie O'Brien) in second. Rex Dingle is turning conditional for trainer Antony Honeyball. Theatre Evening is trained by Harriet Brown and owned by her twin sister Charlotte who helps out in the yard, they had five pointers in for the season. " We bought him out of the yard last month, he can be a bit quirky, he is an ex J J O'Neil horse, we are delighted with the win."
The Best Western Tiverton Hotel-sponsored Restricted race had attracted three runners, withnow joint current leading Novice Lady rider Isabel Williams on the well fancied Thatchers Brook. Bolling Spark (Hayden Webb) and The Overflow ( Jake Bament) set the pace. Having made an effort to take the lead on the final circuit, it looked as if Thatchers Brook then lost pace, as did the The Overflow who came off the bridle, but it turned into a thrilling finish up the home hill, in which The Overflow for trainer Pippa Moorhouse and jockey Jake Bament rode out a good finish, to win by two lengths, and one back for the area.
The final Point-to-Point of the season will be this coming Saturday 16th June at Umberleigh North Devon. Postcode EX37 9EB. First race is due off at 2pm.