The Axe Vale Harriers annual point-to-point meeting took place on Sunday, 28th April, at Stafford Cross, near Seaton.  Highlights of the day were a double for Jamie Snowden, a first-ever winner for 41-year-old rider Guy Galpin and a winning reappearance by the Bateman family's Ross Cottage.

The opening Hunt race went to odds-on Thinking Twice, who led throughout the last circuit and forged clear from two out.  Thinking Twice is owned in partnership by Ottery St Mary farmer Graham Brown, Dawlish kitchen-fitter Mick Spenceley and former Exeter racecourse head groundsman Joe Chaffey, and was a third career win for 30-year-old farmer Martin Sweetland, whose father, Michael, trains the horse at Dunkeswell, near Honiton.

Jackson Hill, suited by the overnight rain, forged well clear in the straight to take the Confined in impressive style under Alex Charles-Jones.  Jackson Hill is trained at Milborne Wick near Sherborne by Jonathan Sprake for brother Tim, who rode the horse to win a 1995 Doncaster Maiden and 1996 Salisbury Handicap and was given the horse as a hunter by previous owner, Lady Rothschild.

The Mixed Open went to Franklins Best and Nick Mitchell, who took up the running before two out for a comfortable 10 lengths success.  Franklin's Best, one of three horses owned and trained by Askerswell farmer Graham Foot, will now be aimed at the Cotley meeting on Monday 6th May. 

Ross Cottage, appearing for the first time since suffering a tendon injury at the 2000 Mendip Farmers, forged well clear in the straight to take the Intermediate race by a distance.  Ross Cottage, trained at Over Stowey by Tim and Julie Long for Bridgwater-based Paul Bateman and his family, was providing Ledbury rider Geoff Barfoot-Saunt with his 10th winner of the season.     

The Countryside Alliance Novice Riders race went to Frank Byrne, who was in the van throughout and fought back to lead at the last after being overtaken three out by odds-on favourite Rimpton Boy.  Frank Byrne is owned by Isle of Wight based 77-year-old Hazel Goody, who bought the horse out of Jim Old's stable last year, and was a second career win for 22-year-old Sturminster Newton rider, Stewart Hayes.

There was a close finish to Division One of the Restricted when Sea Spirit, ridden patiently by Tabitha Cave to get the trip, just held the challenge of Spuddler's Dream and Christian Williams.  Sea Spirit is trained at Chard by Emma Kelley, who leases the horse from breeder Lizzie Elliott.  Guy Galpin, 41, kitchen designer and South Somerset District Councillor, rode his first ever winner when William Lionheart led two out to take Division Two.  Guy bought William Lionheart at Ascot two months ago in partnership with Jill Dowson of Butleigh.  The horse is trained by Guy's wife Jane at their home at Bratton Seymour, near Wincanton.

Sandhurst Officer Cadet Jamie Snowden, winner of this year's Grand Military Gold Cup, rode the winners of the two  Divisions of the 56&7yo Open Maiden race.  In Division One, Nearly Easter benefited from front-running tactics to hold the challenge of Doran's Luck.  Nearly Easter is owned by Milborne Port breeder Margot Perry, whose son, Charles, won the Grand Military Gold Cup on Willow King in 1966.  Jamie completed his double in Division Two when Withycombe, benefiting from the application of a visor, was the only finisher from the 13 starters.  Withycombe is trained at Forton, near Chard, by Philip Greenwood for Jamie's parents, Ian and Suss Snowden, who bought the horse from breeder Andrew Wardall a year ago.