by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The Devon & Somerset Staghounds held their annual point-to-point in sunny conditions at Holnicote near Minehead on Saturday. Highlights included a double for rider Tabitha Cave, taking her total for the season to nine, while Mine's A Gin ran in two races, winning the Mixed Open after unseating his rider in the first race on the card.

The opening Hunt race went to Link Copper, who forged clear on the final circuit to win by 10 lengths from Zatopek, with Hylters Chance back in third. Link Copper is owned and trained by Jill Taplin at Wootton Courtenay, just two miles from the Holnicote course, and was a fourth career winner for 17-year-old Wheddon Cross rider, Darren Edwards. This was Link Copper's fourth win at Holnicote - three on the present course and one on the old course last used in 1996.

In the Intermediate race Mollycarrsbrekfast, in the van throughout, was left clear when Lincoln Place blundered three out and ran on to give Shurton, near Stogursey, trainer/rider Sarah Robinson her first win of the season. Mollycarrsbrekfast is owned by Sarah's near neighbours, Eva and Norman Davis, who bought the horse from David Ridge two years ago. The horse appreciates fast ground and could be one to follow for the rest of the season.

Tabitha Cave initiated her double when Bowling On forged well clear from four out to win the Mares Maiden race by 20 lengths. This was Tabitha's twelfth winner for Buckland St Mary, near Chard, owner/trainer Emma Kelley, who bought Bowling On from breeder Charlie Fox at the end of 1999.

In the Confined race, S B S By Jove made all the running and went clear when challenged two out by only other finisher, Chocolate Buttons. S B S By Jove is trained by Linda Blackford and was the first winner from her new 14-box yard at the family farm at Rackenford, NW of Tiverton. The winner was bought privately a year ago from Edward Retter by Linda's near neighbours Sarah Cocks and her QC husband, David, who recalled winning several races in the 1960s on a good point-to-pointer, Dix-huit.

The Restricted race went to Cool Wager and Dominic Alers-Hankey, who held off Tony's Time by three lengths, with Mac Five a short head away in third. Cool Wager is owned by Robert Pudd and his wife Hilary "Tigger" Pudd, who trains the horse at their Pyleigh home. Tigger bred both Cool Wager and his dam, Gamblingway, and recalled that Gamblingway won a point-to-point at Flete Park in 1987 ridden by current leading National Hunt trainer, Venetia Williams.

Mine's A Gin, running for the second time on the day after unseating Jo Davies at the 8th in the opening Hunt race, survived a bad mistake at the second open ditch to get up close home and take the Mixed Open under Michael Miller. Mine's A Gin, who achieved the possibly unique feat of winning two Best Turned Out Awards in one day, is trained at Bishop's Nympton by Keith Cumings for Exeter cloth merchant brothers, Richard and Peter Dunsford.
Tabitha Cave completed her double when Emali held the determined challenge of Caundle Chase and Jamie Snowden to take the closing Open Maiden race. Emali, who relished the fast ground, was bought at Ascot Sales last August by Chalmington owner/trainer Helen Rees, who raced that fine horse Supremism, winner of this year's Coronation Cup, but sadly put down after being injured in an Exeter Hunter Chase in March.