by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

We have a full load this week for the trip to Bratton Down, grand-daughter and friend, Sophie so the gas stove will have to remain behind but we are off Point to Pointing again so everyone is happy. 

With three females in the car we have to make more stops than usual so we are not first on the course and I am questioned by many as why I am so late.  The first reply was quite polite but by the time I got around to the horse boxes I am afraid they were not so polite - all in good fun I am sure!

The weather is not up to much but an improvement on the last two days and the course is reported as good to firm with plenty of grass covering.  At Bratton Down we usually have to ask the sheep to move over so we can race so to see a good covering of grass will make a change and after heavy showers the water can soon puddle up so the prediction of ‘good to firm’ remains to be seen.  Large list of entries and for sure there will be some splits so the likelihood of ten or more races is ‘on the cards’.

The course was as predicted and yes there was grass but no sign of silage being made and no sign of sheep either.  When I walked the course I found that on the up straight I only had to take a step or two to the left and I was standing in surface water but the actual course was good to firm.  The fences were good and bold in particular, the open ditch; they would have to jump this one, no hurdling or stepping over this.  All is well and a good days racing is envisaged.  The weather is not on our side but the forecast is for it to improve.  It CANNOT get any worse!

One more declaration in the Open Maiden Race Division Two and we would have had 12 races but we will have to be content with eleven, the Open Maiden Race Division One being split into two parts.

Race one with 6 entrants went to the favourite Mr Rawle’s LONGSTONE LAD ridden today by Darren Edwards.  He led for some time in the first circuit before settling down to watch the others in front battling it out.  There was some dolling off of fences on the up straight which was never clear to me and to be quite truthful, at no time during the afternoon was I or anyone else clear as to which fence/s were dolled off or for what reason.  It even appeared that fences were taken out during a race as being unfit to race over on the second circuit without an explanation or at least, try as I might, I could not get an explanation. Steward’s decision!  Mr Cottle’s ESKIMO GOLD decided Jennifer (Congdon) was an encumbrance to his life style and got rid of her before the start of the final circuit and left the best turned out Mr Oliver’s JOY STREET (A Middleton) in the lead with the favourite nicely positioned in second place with Hugh Thomas bringing up CHOCOLATE BUTTONS quietly in third place.  Mrs Brooks’s FUN FOR NOTHING is providing her with just that, plenty of fun but not a lot of reward as a letter ‘p’ was added to his form book which can be read in letters rather than figures but then JOY STREET’S form is the same and at the moment she is out in front.  A horse with some form which was also pulled up was C de P Berry’s ALL MONTY (L Jefford).  LONGSTONE LAD went on to win easily by a distance from JOY STREET and another distance away was CHOCOLATE BUTTONS.  Jennifer (Congdon) was nastily bruised but smiling whilst adding some more adjectives to my ever-increasing vocabulary!  Father Andrew passed off my enquiry about his daughter’s health and tried to sell me a horse that will win everything!  He achieved the same amount of success as did his unfortunate daughter!

The Mixed Open Race is to be a well-contested race with ten runners of class.  The bookies made the jointly owned WELL TED (G Barfoot Saunt) favourite at very skinny odds for such a class race with POLAR FLIGHT taking enough money to be second favourite.  It was won by J Kinnear’s POLAR FLIGHT (L Jefford).  The last time I witnessed the well fancied horse was at Jays and he managed to get Les off on that occasion when he appeared to ‘jink out’ but today he kept to the straight and narrow and came home by 12 lengths from the favourite and Mrs Hooper’s CHASING THE BRIDE (A Goshen) a further four lengths back in third. 

Next came three divisions of Open Maiden Races with division one being further split.  There are no doubt separate stories to be told in all of them but with one/two fences omitted in some of them the form may not necessarily be repeated.  A horse that really impressed me both by looks and performance was S Luxton’s grey ‘best turned out’ STONE MOUNTAIN (M Miller).  This big striding beautiful looking grey would surely have won had he not decided to ‘take a turn’ when well in command, on landing after the final open ditch but that he did and the partnership horse DANNY DOLITTLE (M Sweetland) came home a distance to the good of him with Mrs White’s NICK’S WAY(C Heard) eight lengths back in third.

The Newton Abbot Racecourse Intermediate Championship ‘Q’ Race brought 11 runners to the start.  The best turned out G Keirle’s EVEN MORE (R Young) with good form was made favourite for a while but M Pipe’s JUVANTIQUE now to be ridden by Ollie Green as Les Jefford is out with some bruising to his shoulder.  Les doesn’t carry a lot of colour to his face when one hundred per cent fit but he looks as though a coat of whitewash has been applied now!  If that’s what bruising does I will stick to walking and pick up the odd bit of Newquay suntan and do without the flying through the air act which appears necessary sometimes when riding at point to points!  Very unfortunately JUVANTIQUE came to grief in this race and will not be seen again which is a real pity because this five year old had a really exciting future and was one of the fastest finishers I have seen. 

You may have noticed I have not as yet mentioned any investing by me.  This is not because I have three females nagging me today but just because I have invested and have not had one positive return.  Not one place or winner as yet!  This happens at this time of the year because all the good things you know meet up, and it really does take a bit of working out.  A task I have not yet mastered today.  I have taken the Pudd’s COOL WAGER (M Miller) to reward me in this race and at eight to one the return will be more than appreciated.  After one complete circuit my investment carrier was holding a sensible position just behind those making the pace.  Mrs Brake’s FATHER JIM (N Harris), RYDER CUP the Maundrell’s and JUVANTIQUE were all up front and taking turns at leading.  On passing the judges for the final time two more had taken a hand in leading, the jointly owned BUTTERWICK KING (D Alers-Hankey) and EVEN MORE.  My horse is in a very good position but will need to keep it up against these proven pointers.  With EVEN MORE deciding the direction he was heading was not what he wanted and ran out after the bend in the top straight allowed Mrs Seage’s BORDER ROSE (Sue Young) to take a hand up front.  This horse running better on this course and is in with a chance but some way to go yet.  By the time the leaders reached the open ditch for the final time, my pilot had decided to take his charge to the front and cleared the ditch in company with K Nicholas’s HAPPY TEAM (D Edwards) and BORDER ROSE.  At the next COOL WAGER decided to worry me sick by hitting it hard – Michael Miller sat tight, spoke nicely to the brown ten year old gelding, son of Artic Lord, offspring of GamblingWay , carrier of Fred’s investment and told him to do better – or words to that effect!! The remainder of the race is a little blurred as COOL WAGER continued to progress and some other horses were following.  He won by 20 lengths from Mrs Tucker & Mrs Mein’s STRONG TEA (A Charles Jones)  – who must have made up a lot of ground and BORDER ROSE who Ruth collected on, back in third place.  A very profitable and eventful race.

The Confined Hunts’ Race was fought out between five rivals.  The Martin Pipe Racing Club’s DARAYDAN (has this horse changed hands?) (now to be ridden by R Young) challenging the best turned out P Clarke’s FRIAR WADDON (D Edward) with Richard (Woollacott) riding Andrew Congdon’s O SO BOSSY and Dominic Harvey of MR MAGNETIC fame riding Mrs Ashburner’s BELARUS and Ben Hickey on Sally Messer-Bennett’s GARNWIN.  The Pipe’s horse was made favourite but closely followed by FRIAR WADDON and then O SO BOSSY with big prices available for GARNWIN and BELARUS (25 to 1 in places).  Mr Trickey took the furthest obstacle away from the changing tent to jump off – the first open ditch!  Maybe he’ll get a lift back – I would charge for the petrol!!  Now only four left and DARAYDAN is taking on the front runner – O SO BOSSY, not a wise thing to do as you may use up all your vital energy and have nothing left when FRIAR WADDON picks up the pace.  BELARUS was whipping-in!  FRIAR WHADDON gradually made his move and relegated O SO BOSSY to third with BELARUS bringing up the rear.  DARAYDAN still leading just, over the final open ditch and O SO BOSSY has been overtaken by BELARUS.  With only one plain fence left to jump and it being a long way off as others were dolled off, only one horse was going to win this race.  Looking good, gradually increasing the pace and taking advantage of the tow by others BELARUS came into his own and did it well!  Comfortably guided by Mr Harvey this horse won his first race for seven outings and was eight lengths to the good of DARAYDAN on the line in the second fastest time of the day.  Darren Edwards brought FRIAR WADDON into third place a couple of lengths back.  To me this was the best performance of the day!  Well done!

The Mares Only race caused a bit of whispering in the jungle.  Five runners and the arrival of M Parr’s GLACIAL TRIAL (G Barfoot-Saunt) with form of ‘Won 3 PTPs but a couple of seasons ago hanging around her caused some consternation.  The favourite was Elliewelliewoo Club’s ELLIEWELLIEWOO (N Harris), well and truly odds-on  (five to two).  The bookie with the forecast prediction would, again, only give you odds on who would be second to the favourite, there was no chance of you choosing who would be first!  There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the winner WOULD have been Sue Young on their FOSSYBEAR, and unknown to Kate I was standing behind you during this race and if you haven’t taken up aerobics, you certainly should do!  FOSSY BEAR was five lengths to the good of the remaining field being led by GLACIAL TRIAL when in the deteriorating final bend FOSSY got stuck in the mud and slipped.  GLACIAL TRIAL went on to win by 15 lengths from ELLIEWELLIEWOO and TICKET TO THEMOON (T Cave) a further two and half lengths back in third.  A young lady who was obviously one of the connections of GLACIAL TRIAL immediately rang up her friend and reported how the horse ‘sluiced up – never threatened’ – Ducky ! - may I tell you that there is no way FOSSY would give you the chance to make up five lengths, no matter how long the run in.  My turn now to repeat the necessities of winning a race to myself.  Jump all, run fast and pass the winning post first!

Two divisions of restricted races finished the meeting off well.  In Division one, Lucy Gardner (who incidentally, is very keen to pick up any spare rides) had another great race and this time BALDHU JAY ARR although possibly taking a look at his horse box as he went by, did not try to run out and may prefer a track this way round.  He won by 12 lengths from P Hobbs’s BROWN BUZZARD (J Hobbs) and the much fancied and best turned out R Westacott’s SIR WILLIAM in third.  In Division two, Neil Harris brought home, the best turned out THE MASTER’S CHOICE in a well-fought finish to beat Alex Charles-Jones on MONTY’S LASS and third was the promising VALMAN (R Darke).

So ended a long and enjoyable days racing.  I inspected the take-off and landing areas about the jumps before leaving for home and although classified as good to firm, prints were going in anything up to five inches on the landing side of some of the jumps and the two critical bends at the top of the course were torn up badly.  The angle of turn needs increasing (or decreasing, depending on how you view the rail) considerably.  Its so easy to sit here and comment but to the band of volunteers that do so much, rest assured it is much appreciate.

I have been assured that the road to Dulverton Mounsey Hill Gate has been re-surfaced recently in preparation for the thousands who will visit their point to point next week; Mr Farrant - who doesn’t only prepare race courses - told me!  So I will see you all at The Dulverton Farmer’s meeting.  Ruth will be one end taking notes and I will listen to the second commentator.  We will compare notes before going to print as it has been known for a grey horse to lead in one field and lo and behold, a colour change and it’s a bay mare in the second field.  Lovely!

Two farmers (who else!) talking during the brilliant stallion parade at the meeting:  Nothing to do with stallions – or is it?

Well Bill! What do you do first thing in the morning?
Always kiss the Missus!  (Shrieks of laughter!)
Well then what is the second thing you do?
Check which one it is!

Cheers Fred & Ruth