by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

We were assured the meeting at Black Forest Lodge was on so there was absolutely no reason not to get up early, pack the picnic and set off for Kenton.  The fact that the excellent Farmers’ and Friends’ Night at Withiel (Bodmin) on Friday hosted by The North Cornwall Hounds and a long day with hounds on Saturday at Boscastle were taking their toll, was brushed aside and off we went in overcast conditions, some showers and with some fog rolling off Dartmoor.  On arriving at the course the conditions were not too bad at all and we parked up, put the kettle on and set off to walk the course.  I did remember to fill the kettle to the top as on previous occasions I have returned to find the kettle boiled dry as I have stopped to chat far too often on my way round. 

I was approaching the cross fence at the far end of the course when I was asked if I was any good at commentating.  “I’m colour blind! I’m deaf, I’m allergic to microphones, I’m useless with binoculars” were the first four excuses that I managed to get out before asking “why?” and then dreaming up a few more reasons in case the situation worsened. Unfortunately Peter (Wakeham) who was to be the Commentator was poorly and couldn’t attend and if Peter cannot attend a P-to-P then he must be really poorly.  Get well soon Peter as you will not doubt be in great demand at one of your favourite places, Buckfastleigh, very soon and we miss you! 

My admiration goes out to the gentleman who stood in for Peter.  He didn’t know that he would be doing the job until about ten o’clock and came out of retirement to fill the post.  When I had a word with him afterwards I congratulated him on an excellent job and he told me he couldn’t remember his last commentating appointment but it must have been some 25 to 30 years ago.  Well-done Bill! (Mr Bill Pennington)

Just enough boiling water for two cups of coffee left by the time we returned but we didn’t complain and got down to listing the runners.

I am sorry to see the demise of The Members, Subscribers and Farmers Race but suffice to say after only two entries last year and with the need for four divisions of the Open Maiden Races it was inevitable.  So the first race was to be Confined Hunts Race sponsored by Howard & Howard (Life and Pensions) Ltd with eleven going to post with a fair bit of class involved.  Last year COUNTY DERRY won this race and as we know he is going on to bigger things.  The contestants set off at a real good pace, led in the first instance by Mr G Greenway’s BLADE OF FORTUNE (Mr D Edward) and then several others taking up the running throughout except one – Mr A Congdon’s O SO BOSSY ridden as usual by his daughter, the one with the lovely smile-Jennifer, who was quite happy to stay in third/second place but always on the heels of the leader.  Mr T Winzer’s PROVINCE (L Jefford) was the last one to have a go at leading the field but O SO BOSSY jumped ‘like a stag’ and gained a length almost, before taking up the running, coming down the hill for the last time.  PROVINCE did not let go but O SO BOSSY was the stronger and gained enough on the final fence to win by half a length with The Lets Get It On Club’s COUNT KARMUSKI (A Farrant) eight lengths back in third.  The time for this race was the best of the day and a really respectable 6 minutes 19.5seconds.  I don’t normally go into tenths of seconds but this is necessary here as the Ladies Open was also won in a time of 6 minutes 19 seconds but I believe a few more tenths. 

Financially a disaster for me as I chose the ‘No recent form NH or Point to Point’ entry to carry my investment and I’m afraid he will carry that form into the next meeting and probably well into the next year!  Why is it when I follow these types they are hopeless?  When I don’t they finish up winning like another entry for The Lets Get It On Club.  Their RAKAPOSHI LASS (A Farrant) in Division One of The Open Maiden Race sponsored by HL & LP Salmon MRDVS Veterinary Clinic and Sonia & Adrian Geering beat my selection, Mr J Weldhen’s WONDERFUL WORLD (R Woollacott) by two lengths.  I thought WONDERFUL WORLD ran and jumped extremely well but in comes this ‘No recent form NH or Point to Point’ runner and takes it away from me.  The third horse will be watched closely – Miss E Kelley’s SEA SPIRIT (Tabitha Cave) as she was only a head behind in third place. 

Ten went to post in The K J Pikes & Son & Wincanton Racecourse Westcountry Hunter ‘Chase Championship Series.  To enable finances to last all afternoon I decided to cheer for Ruth’s selection in this race, that’s one excuse and the other is – I did not have a clue as to whom to risk with my investment.  Four or five of these ran in the corresponding race last year when HARBOUR ISLAND won but there is this visitor from Wales – Mr A & Mrs J Lowrie’s DAT MY HORSE with Christian Williams up that is frightening me and his price is also very skinny so I’ll leave it to Ruth.  Her choice Mr R Flint’s HARBOUR ISLAND (J Llewellyn) complete with blinkers- to bring home the money.  Steady pace was being achieved over the first few jumps when I heard those dreaded words (for some!) ‘DAT MY HORSE has unseated at that one’, this is when the viewing public tell one helluva lot of lies with their facial expressions.  Those with money on other runners, smile and say – ‘Oh! That’s a pity, the favourite has unseated’ and then laugh.  The unfortunates say exactly the same words probably followed with a description of what should now happen to the said horse and how he doesn’t know his mother or father even though his passport points out that he does. Ruth was quite happy; HARBOUR ISLAND had progressed to lead with Mr D William’s WELL ARMED (A Farrant), now in blinkers, alongside and Mrs D Little’s WAYFARERS WAY (D Alers-Hankey) in third place.  BELLS WOOD, MISS B BENNET and NORMANIA still in contention.  WELL ARMED and HARBOUR ISLAND continued to battle it out and went a few lengths clear of the field.  The dulcet tones of our ‘stand in commentator’ Bill, then announced – HARBOUR ISLAND is getting a reminder.  I often thought about this statement and I was always under the impression ‘reminders’ were gentle, friendly notices to state something needs doing, not a sharp crack across the rear end to say ‘look straight ahead, jump well and run twice as fast as you are now!  Well! So the race continued between these two horses.  It was great!  The crowd loved it and cheered loudly as these two, clear of the remainder raced to the line.  From our position on the hill it looked as if Ruth was in the money but the Judge decided otherwise and WELL ARMED won by a head from HARBOUR ISLAND with BELLS WOOD eight lengths back in third place.  A very good race, blinkers must have worked or has he always worn them?  Ruth had backed each way so picked up a little! 

The Ladies’ Open Race was sponsored by BJ Barkwell & Lyndridge Residential Home Okehampton and there were nine contestants.  The two class horses with form took turns in becoming ‘favourite’. The horse that unseated Polly Gundry in the Intermediate Race at Chipley Park – Mr R Kelvin-Hughes’s SAILORS FOLLY (Miss P Gundry) was first made favourite but then Mrs R Newman’s BRETECHE (Miss T Newman) who won the Silverton Ladies Open here last month in a sensible time came into the reckoning and they then argued it out.  Although the prices were not great I decided to invest.  Not a lot but enough to hurt if I lose.  I choose BRETECHE, Ruth chose SAILORS FOLLY. The ‘Best Turned Out’ Miss V Tremlett’s HOLDIMCLOSE, ridden by the owner, led for a considerable time and kept the pace up, followed by SAILORS FOLLY, with the grey, Mr J Weldhen’s TOTAL JOY (S Gainsford) travelling well also.  By the time they came down the hill for the last time SAILORS FOLLY was two lengths up followed now by BRETECHE who had gradually made up ground.  The recording now is somewhat blurred as the shouting started as this pair raced for home.  An excellent race with SAILORS FOLLY taking the spoils by (a short) 1 length from BRETECHE, with HOLDIMCLOSE eight lengths back in third.  I’ll make the coffee Ruth whilst you pick up your winnings – no! Of course I don’t mind – mutter, mutter, mutter!!! 

Only three of the eight that went to post finished in The Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox and Emma Hope Sponsored Intermediate Race. We will never know if the jointly owned BELSKI would have beaten Mrs D Cocks’s SBS BY JOVE (A Charles-Jones) as Les Jefford decided to dismount (u/r) at the last fence when fighting it out and leaving us to ponder the outcome but the best turned out SBS BY JOVE went on to win by 10 lengths from Mr J Phillips’s SEA URCHIN (D Alers-Hankey) with Mr O Stephens KILGOBBIN (D Stephens) further back in third.  

In the Mr D Fisher sponsored Restricted Race I recognised young Mr Christian Williams in the paddock mounted on a horse I also recognised as DAT MY HORSE, well if at first you don’t succeed, run again!  Yes all above board and horse looking the part he is made favourite to win this one.  Win it he did, beating my selection, Mr M Pipe’s JUVANTIQUE (A Farrant), a horse I thought was more than average when I last saw him run here but that was in a maiden and a slow time of 6.46.  Third horse home was Mrs K Nicholas’s HAPPY TEAM (L Jefford) 

Four divisions of maidens followed. Close finishes in most except the final one, The A1 Farm Buildings Ltd sponsored maiden where the favourite, Mrs E Kelvin-Hughes’s DUKE OF ALBANY (P Gundry) raced away in fine style to win by a distance from the second favourite Mrs D Hughes’s THOMAS THE DOUBTER (T Vaughan) who was twenty lengths in front of Mrs G Greenwood’s WAYWARD SPREE (R Woollacott).

That’s it for this week.  Not a lot to sing about on the way home, Ruth won a little, I lost a little but some income from Chipley Park still left over.  Next week a racing expert will join us at BUCKFASTLEIGH for the SOUTH POOL HARRIERS meeting.  Chooses winners by Jockey colours, in particular if it’s pink and purple, length of horses’ tails, always on SILVERMAN when running and if they wink at her when parading she doubles her stakes – yes our nine year old grand-daughter knows how to pick them!  She pockets the winnings but forgets to fork out when stakes are made.  See you all then.