The season drew to a close on Saturday, when the Torrington Farmers hosted their meeting at the popular course on the edge of Umberleigh. This meeting always draws a huge crowd, and this year was no different, with not only pointing followers, but many trainers and jockeys had travelled from afar to contest the six final races with championships still to be settled.
The Tattersalls Ireland-sponsored club Members race gave a thrilling start to the day with the Matt Hampton-trained Bohemian Rhapsody under young jockey Charlie Todd scoring one for the area. Seven had set off at the start with Le Clo De La Londe sent off the 5/4 favourite under jockey Emma Watson. This was one for the lads with Charlie Todd on the 3/1 Bohemian Rhapsody taking up the running on the final circuit, and fending off a strong challenge from Bathwick Scanno (Will Biddick) over the last to hold on and win by one and a quarter lengths. It was Charlie's first Point-to-Point win having graduated from pony racing where he had clocked up an impressive 86 winners. He is now based at Ian Williams's yard having spent some time at Paul Nicholls. " It's a great win for Charlie, his father bought Bohemian Rhapsody for him at the start of the National Hunt season, he was unlucky to be unseated last time out at Bratton" stated trainer Matt Hampton. Bathwick Scanno having finished a creditable second has now been retired by trainer Teresa Clark, he deserves credit for running in 50 Point-to-Point races also four races under rules.
The seven runners contesting the Kivells-sponsored Restricted race were all based out of the area. Gowell for trainer/jockey Byron Moorcroft had been sent off even money favourite and had set a good pace from the start until being joined over the final ditch by Midnight Queen under jockey Charlie Price, who had made eye catching progress. Midnight Queen soon stretched to a five length lead over two out and went onto win by a handy six lengths with Euro Bond (Kieran Buckley) in second. Trainer Tim Vaughan had not travelled down from Wales to see his mare win. Jockey Charlie Price, who rides out full time for Vaughan as an amateur jockey commented " She is a tough little mare, jumped perfectly, Tim bought her off Bradley Gibbs."
Davisons sponsored the Men's Open which had only attracted four runners, these again were all based out of the area. Big Man Doe for trainer Martin Wanless, had been backed into odds on favourite, and did not disappoint his followers. Under jockey Zak Baker, Big Man Doe had been sent off in front to set the pace and demonstrated some spectacular jumping, this could have cost him the race when Mr Sawyer ( Bradley Gibbs) took up the running over the final ditch having stalked the leader at the start of the second circuit. Then Mr Sawyers challenge came to an end when stalling over the second last giving Big Man Doe's jockey time to kick on staying on well to score a 15 length win. Stratford based trainer Martin Wanless was delighted " We bought Big Man Doe out of Ireland, he will now be turned away for the summer and back pointing again next season if we can get the ground as he won't go on soft. It's a good win for Zak who we nickname Ruby after Ruby Walsh."
Seven lined up for the Nancekivell & Co-sponsored Ladies Open with There's No Panic from the Biddick team claiming odds on favouritism. There's No Panic under jockey Vicky Wade had given his backers a good run for their money but this race went the way of Rendezvous Peak who's jockey Alice Stevens was here to challenge for the National Ladies Novice Jockey title in which she was equal first with Isabel William who is on holiday in Bali. 19 year-old Alice set the pace from the start, was never headed and justified her impressive six length win and gaining her title. There's No Panic finished in second. The ditch had been bypassed on the second circuit, with jockey Jo Supple sustaining a heavy fall. We wish her well in her recovery. Stratford-on-Avon based Trainer Francesca Nimmo was delighted for Alice " We had entered Rendezvous Peak just for Alice to challenge for the title, he has run several times recently but has stayed fit, Alice rides out for us six days a week."
The bookies took a hit on the well backed Joey Kangaroo in the Barum Stud-sponsored Intermediate race. Having opened at 2-1 Joey Kangaroo (David Mansell) was sent off at 4/6 with Culverwell (Will Biddick) a 7/4 chance of the four runners. Biddick had set the pace with David Mansell keeping Joey Kangaroo settled at the back of the quartet. Culverwell soon struggled to stay with the pace on the second circuit leaving the Fred Hutsby-trained Kinlochspelve, under jockey Sam Lee taking up the running, this was short lived with the huge Joey Kangaroo, who stands an enormous 17hh, eating up the ground with his long strides to assert over two fences from home, clocking up 54 year old Mansell's 202 winner. " Joey is trained at home by my wife Julie, we bought him out of Ascot sales, we have had a few issues with him as he is not only tall but long too and needed time to mature, he will stay in yard and we will look forward to running him again next season."
The final race of the day, the Smallridge Bros Ltd-sponsored Open Maiden Race, went the way of Tiverton based owner/ trainer/ jockey Kieran Buckley with The Boola Bee. Having settled in mid division of the eight runners, Buckley soon asserted over the second last going on to score by an impressive 15 lengths, with Buochas Le Dia (Kieran Price) under Byron Moorcroft in second. Owned jointly by Kieran and his brother Tom who are based near Tiverton, their proud father Eddie commented " We bought The Boola Bee out of Doncaster Sales in May this year, Tom is conditional and both Kieran and Tom work for Nigel Hawke, Kieran also rides for Jo Tickle." It was Kieran Buckley's first runner and winner as a trainer, and he won the trophy for best riding performance of the day.
There ended another thrilling packed day of Pointing marking the end of the current season. The secretaries of the area wish to thank all of the sponsors and helpers for all the meetings who have made racing possible.