by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

Again we were fortunate to find excellent B & B at Susan Bell’s Brookhayes Farm at Cossington near Bridgewater.  A little off our direct route from Badbury Rings but we booked before Kilworthy was postponed so we chose not to cancel and we are very pleased we didn’t.  A lovely warm welcome, super room and the ‘local’ provided us with an excellent evening meal.  (I paid!)  Beautiful weather greeted me when on my morning walk about the farm, which might sound boring to some of you, but I do like to keep up to date with progress made in farming methods (but only on my way to P to Ps).  In my day my early morning start was to hand milk 19 cows before the milk lorry at 7.30 am: on this farm they milk 120 by that time!  Lovely breakfast: home made marmalade and jams, lovely rhubarb, fresh milk and eggs as you like them. I bought two pounds of rhubarb from the garden and set off for Ston Easton.

Now this has got to be the best point-to-point I have attended since Tehidy (Four Burrow Hounds Cornwall) about fifty years ago and that is no exaggeration!  You name it – it was here!  An extremely informative Race Card.  Good viewing, a nice course with ‘good going’, plenty of grass with a few soft patches.  A very friendly reception, plenty to see and do. Excellent toilet arrangements, a good commentator and sound reproduction equipment and the laughter emanating from the children’s play area proved they were also having a good time.  – Well, I cannot fault it.  The facilities I was afforded to collect my little bit of information after each race were of the highest standard.  Masses of people must have known about this meeting as they turned up in droves.  I wonder if someone would let me know the attendance figures.  The tote was expertly manned by ten (possibly more!) members of the Shepton Mallet Rotary Club taking money IN but unfortunately only two giving money OUT! This did cause queues at times in particular when the odds-on favourite won and every one wanted their £1.30 for a £1 stake.  Nine good races to come.

The Members race was contested by 5 runners and usually someone has a whisper about one of the local horses but at the off of this one, three horses were rated the same by the ‘bookies’ at the price of 2 to 1 with J Hankinson & Miss Keevil’s best turned out DE POWEROMONEY (Emma Tory) being a little better priced and Mrs Kenney-Herbert’s CHOC ridden by Mr Kenney-Herbert being the outsider of the field at seven to one.  On passing the crowd for the final time it was M O’Connor’s SPRINGFORD (J Barnes) and CHOC leading the field clear of Miss S West riding her THE BOLD ABBOT and J Forbes’s HANGING GROVE (M Bryant) and some way behind now was DE POWEROMONEY.   CHOC and SPRINGFORD drew away from the remainder and although a reminder or two was necessary for the latter he continued to gallop on and drew gradually away from CHOC.  Approaching the final obstacle CHOC was trailing by about four lengths and the remainder were in another county – whoops! The leader fell at the last and allowed CHOC to go on to win and we had to wait a little while for THE BOLD ABBOT (2nd) and HANGING GROVE (3rd) to fight it out for second and third place a distance behind the winner. Why is Ruth wearing the biggest of smiles? – Yes she had invested in CHOC at 7/1.

Now followed two Divisions of Open Maidens for 5,6 and 7 year olds over 2½ miles with Division One being further split.  Eight went to post in Div 1 pt 1 and the start is near the public viewing area and this proved popular.  Mrs Hutchings MR NOMANNERS (M Shears) proved he could live up to his name and fell early in the race leaving seven to fight it out.  With a circuit to run Mr & Mrs Bishop’s FANCY HAND (M Green) and R Alner’s FAIR SPRITE in the van with Mrs Hawker’s SOOTSIR (R Hawker) close up in third and a tightly packed group followed these with F Caudwell’s HACHLEY (J Diment) bringing up the rear.  As the race progressed it remained a battle between FANCY HAND and FAIR SPRITE but then HACHLEY began making up ground and FANCY HAND faded.  On the run to the line FAIR SPRITE hung on to finish four lengths ahead of HACHLEY who was 2 ½ lengths ahead of SOOTSIR with FANCY HAND back in fourth.  Another winner for Ruth would you believe!

Division one pt two saw the best turned out Countess Goess-Sarau’s THE KING’S FLING to be ridden by the leading lady jockey at the moment Miss P Gundry taking the money.  Well I have rabbited on about how good this young lady is in the past and will refrain from doing so here – but she is ‘Good’ with a capital ‘G’.  I will not be investing on this sure thing because I have spotted other valuable connections from the racing world – The Yes No Wait Sorries Partnership’s GIPSY CRICKETER to be ridden by Mr R Biddlecombe is carrying form having already been a one length second in a 2 ½ miles race and is the one to be on.  Here goes – a substantial investment at 7/2. The jointly owned HILL TRAIL (A Charles-Jones) is also attracting attention.  At the off my investment went straight to the front and did not give me a moments concern for the whole of the race although the judge had the final decision. I knew my horse had won! (Now!).  THE KING’S FLING came in second with HILL TRAIL back in third.  Miss Gundry tried very hard to get at GYPSY CRICKETER in the final run in but my horse prevailed by at least ½ a length.  Hey! This is easy money!  Now Miss Gundry is to carry all of it in the next race. 

This is division two and one of the R Barber trained ‘No recent form NH or P to P’ recruits belonging to K Manley and to be ridden by P Gundry is my selection - MASTER FLORIAN.  I did have my worries during this race – serious worries.  It appeared that MASTER FLORIAN was not happy going down hill and also did not jump very fluently.  Mr Tudors BROMBIL LADY followed by Mr C Jackson’s TENSING were leading the pack on passing the judge with a circuit to travel and my concern was following a little behind these and Polly was having to work on this grey.  MASTER FLORIAN gained a place or two between jumps but was not foot perfect when the obstacles had to be tackled.  BROMBIL LADY and MASTER FLORIAN went about six lengths ahead with TENSING leading the following pack.  Mrs Fear’s SULA QUEEN was now closing on the leaders.  At the next fence BROMBIL LADY fell leaving my charge to lead the field with SULA QUEEN in hot pursuit. TENSING in third place.  SULA QUEEN at this stage appeared to be going easily when MASTER FLORIAN still did not understand the difference between ‘jump over’ and ‘walk through’.  The four leaders as they raced to the home straight were MASTER FLORIAN, SULA QUEEN, TENSING and P Awdry’s INDIAN MUSE (M Shears).  Over the last and MASTER FLORIAN went ahead of affairs with TENSING running on into second place with INDIAN MUSE a further two lengths back.  A very tired SULA QUEEN closed up in fourth.  A jockey will never have to work so hard to earn some money for me as the lady did on this occasion.  That was hard work for me also but off to collect again.

Ruth put her ‘Why is he here?’ programme into the computer and came up with the fact that one Julian Pritchard had arrived at Ston Easton to ride a winner and being as he had only one ride the winner must be Mrs Nash’s BANKIT.  Mr & Mrs M Scudamore’s ZAFFARAN WINDS (R Biddlecombe) took my investment but G Keirle’s EVEN MORE also looked good but has only form in a maiden where the others have form in restricted.   Very difficult this one!  Ruth doesn’t think so and remains happy with BANKIT and she assures me that is exactly what she will do with the winnings.  With a complete circuit to go the three mentioned horses passing me in that order, also Mr & Mrs N Faulks’s TONY’S TIME  (N Mitchell) close in fourth.  On reaching the home straight BANKIT began to dominate and despite all the cheering for my horse, he won by three lengths from EVEN MORE with ZAFFARAN WINDS a tired eight lengths behind. Well done again Ruth!

Now comes the mixed open with only seven runners and an odds-on favourite in the Mr Kelvin-Hughes’s CHARLIE STRONG to be ridden by none other than Polly Gundry.  Prohibitive odds of 1/3 prevented me from investing.  Only two finished and the second horse home, The Flindicate Group’s  OUR MAN FLIN (Miss E Neyens) was 14 lengths behind.  This winner is a very useful horse and his programme is to be watched with interest but I shall also be watching OUR MAN FLIN!!

Novice riders to the fore now in the Countryside Alliance Novice Riders Club race with 15 going to post.  I, of course will be investing on Mr White’s FRYS LANE to be ridden by his owner.  I managed to get odds of 14/1 so I punted ‘each-way’.  At the end of the journey to the winning post for the first time it was Mrs Pegna & Mrs Maude’s NEWTON POINT (Mrs B Keighley) that was leading with J Studd’s MINER’S DANCE (C Stud) in second place and Mrs Hughes’s BELLES BOY (R Hughes) in third place.  On reaching me again I was pleased to see the flashing grey who was carrying my investment with Simon onboard looking very confident, challenging for the lead with NEWTON POINT followed by MINER’S DANCE who was closely followed by D Shone’s DANNICUS (N Williams) who I think started off favourite. I am now getting very excited; DANNICUS falls at fence 14 and FRYS LANE is now leading the charge!  It was here that a small slip allowed FRYS LANE to lose a bit of ground when not quite clearing the fence.  Simon of course sat tight and was off again after the leader who is now MINER’S DANCE who is at least four lengths to the good.  R Fuller’s BASIN CROFT now decided to enter the leadership competition and on reaching the turn it was MINER’S DANCE followed by BASIN CROFT with FRYS LANE now getting back into it again. Three horses very close together with two fences left to jump. A brilliant finish with three horses racing to the line with MINER’S DANCE making it by one length from BASIN CROFT with FRYS LANE three lengths away third.  I don’t get my 14/1 but even at one-fifth the odds I will be more than happy.  Well done ALL novices!

Two divisions of open maidens completed the day with T Seegar’s NOT YET DECENT (R Young) taking the first division by 2 ½ lengths from Richard Woollacott riding Mrs J McCullough PRUSSIAN STEEL who should get a ‘1’ in his form soon; please do as I am fed up with ‘2’s, and Alex Charles-Jones on Mrs D Hughes’s HIGHBURY in third place.  Finally, the best turned out R Wilkins’s SKI SEAL (R Green) took the last race by the neck and came home 15 lengths ahead of I Ham’s TELIMAR (J Barnes) with the Atkinson Family owned SPOSKI a further five lengths back in third.

This completed an excellent afternoons ‘pointing’ and here’s hoping that there is no copyright attached to Richard Brice’s (Chairman Mendip Farmers’ Point to Point Committee) Welcoming letter as I intend to quote it –

 “I hope that you have a thoroughly good day’s racing at Ston Easton, let the thunder of galloping horses, the flash of racing silks and the roar of the crowd be your reminder of this Point to Point, until we meet again next year.”

Thank you Richard for providing an excellent meeting and we will certainly meet again!

Fred and Ruth