Rain again and what wind, never mind, today's Point to Point is being held at one of the best venues for Pointing when bad weather is about. Good road entrances to car parks, excellent toilet facilities, all business conducted under cover in the big shed, even the bookies' cars are in the dry, and plenty to eat and drink in friendly surroundings. Incidentally the layout for the stewards, jockeys, bar and food were a little different this year and were considered a great improvement. Well done to all concerned for providing us with this excellent set up. The number of entries were about the same as last year, no doubt due to the same circumstances as I reported then - the proximity of a meeting the following day - but a competitive card was produced and good racing was sure to take place.
The numbers for the first race, The Robert Truscott Members', Subscribers' and Farmers' Race were greatly increased from last year and the duel between Mrs Messer-Bennetts IT'SNOTSIMPLE (Miss S Messer-Bennetts) and Mrs R Cook's COUNTY BASH (Miss Lucy Gardner) brought the crowd to their feet, with the result between these two lady jockeys being different from a previous race when I remember Lucy decided to walk the last few hundred yards; on this occasion she rode out a good finish to win by six lengths, at last, clocking up her very first win for Aunty. Considerably further back was TRAVEL BY LAND and even further back was the North Cornwall Hunt's Joint Master Mr M Biddick on his dark bay gelding SAM. This horse later showed a good turn of foot as when being used for the remainder of the day by Nigel Cox, Huntsman and Mounted Steward he pursued a wayward pointer and arrested him after travelling a very short distance at speed. He was still there at the end of the day carrying out this worthy task when, no doubt, all those that had beaten him in the first race, were still trying to catch breath. Ironically, SAM won the biggest cup of the afternoon - The Joe Collins Challenge Cup. No need to go fast when by being ridden steady you can have the whole afternoon out and take home the silver!! On interviewing the jockey of SAM, he reported that arrangements were made for him to lead the field for the first circuit but they went off, disregarding the arrangements and his pleas of 'wait for me!' and left him behind.
We were beginning to wonder who would be reading the Sports News on Westward TV when we saw the owner, Miss Natalie Cornah was present to see her horse IRANOS (K Rixon) run in the Men's Open Race along with five other good horses. IRANOS has good form and went out the favourite but I remember last year that Mr D Ferguson's NEARLY GOLD, this year ridden by Mr Alex Charles-Jones came second in this race and as is nearly always the case when a predicted front runner takes part, a good pace is assured. This was the case this year with NEARLY GOLD being up front most of the way and the others having a little difficulty staying with him. All the way from South Wales was Christian Williams on Mr Dai Brace's CHICAGO BEAR who had a go at staying up there but not so and pulled up, Mr N Mitchell on C Fox's RED BROOK LAD, Mr K Langdell's AAVASAKSA (A Farrant) also had a try but when they turned at the top of the hill for the second time P Thomas SOL MUSIC (Mr S Holdsworth) had taken up the lead. By the time the bottom of the hill had been reached it was IRANOS and NEARLY GOLD fighting it out for the major places. A brilliant finish gave the crowd something to cheer about, as the weather during the race had been appalling. First NEARLY GOLD, second IRANOS and third REDBROOK LAD. Natalie did get back to read the news as I saw her do it!
In The Cornish Arms Ladies Open Race, six went to post with some very good horses competing. I noticed, through the rain, that a name on the runners board was Miss P GRUNDY and I correctly interpreted this to be THE Polly so when I asked Ruth for some of my dinner money from next week so that I could buy a pasty, she, delighted at just having won a bottle of whisky in the draw, gave me a decent sub. I immediately rushed to the food counter, got a good covering of friends and then came out in the corner, without pasty, and headed for the gentleman who would willingly wager me that my nomination, Mr T Hughes's PALACE PARADE ridden by Miss Grundy (Polly please bear with me!) would not win. He took my pasty and dinner money and I went out in the rain to calculate how much I would pick up. This horse was 10 lengths second last year so knows all about this course and the person on his back has more than a fair knowledge of most courses.
Mr T Long's BALDHU CHANCE who has won this race before, was being pushed along by Lucy Gardner, eagerly looking for a double, with my horse in touch but so were all the others. Pangs of hunger were threatening me for the whole of next week when I saw STACKY LIGHT (Miss O Green) tackle BALDHU CHANCE and leave my horse back in fourth place but nevertheless, still looking good! Well when push comes to shove the best will no doubt prevail and in the words of a wise Cornish man, Dr A L Rouse, my horse was 'A first rater' and was brought home to win a thrilling victor over BALDHU CHANCE by six lengths with STACKY LIGHT a further eight lengths back in third. Well done PALACE PARADE and well done Miss Polly Gundry!
The dinner money has been returned, the home fires will burn bright again, there are meals out envisaged and I am being called 'Darling' once again. Oh what a Wonderful World!!
I must now apologise. I was so busy watching the charming lady doing such a good job in the pouring rain, marking up the number board that I missed the name of the jockey who would be riding Miss J Holmes's BARRYSCOURT LAD. It was not to be A Farrant as in the race card but Miss J Holmes herself. (See picture file). So I do apologies for making this mistake but then I was watching rainwater disappear down the sleeves of the lady marker and was trying to work out where it was all going. I decided to ask her and she sweetly replied 'That's why you buy them in 'Cup' sizes'. So with a grin of 'Now I know!' I went off to follow the racing.
Les Jefford brought C Egalton's PHILSON-RIVER home in fine style to win this Roach Foods Ltd sponsored Restricted Race by a margin of 10 lengths in a time of 6m 43 which was presentable for the day and Miss J Holmes brought BARRYSCOURT LAD into second place with M Barnett on M Lethbridge's BY MY SIDE a further 10 lengths away, third. I am at present contacting Miss Holmes to find out a bit more about BARRYSCOURT LAD as I am not too familiar with him at the moment.
Mrs R Welch's BOMBA CHARGER, given a great ride by S Holdsworth, took The Messer-Bennetts 'Never Deemed' Confined Hunt's Race with Mrs G Robarts's WELL TIMED (D McKenna) just a length away second and the jointly owned GROOVING (R Darke) a couple of lengths further back. The veteran AMTRAK EXPRESS did not like this course so much as he did the one at Black Forest Lodge and did not make the frame on this occasion but still looked as though he enjoyed himself.
I decided against investing on Mrs J Williams GOOD BOY FRED (Christian Williams) in The King's Head, Five Lanes sponsored Intermediate Race because I have been informed by a few in the past and no doubt will be informed by a few in the future, that Fred is NOT always a good boy. After this race I will disregard all comments and will follow GOOD BOY FRED very closely as he ran very well. Not well enough to beat the efforts of A Farrant onboard Mr C Batterham's ISARD III who was made the 'odds-on' favourite but was only two lengths back in second place. Mr J Weldhen's DARK CHALLENGER (R Woollacott) came into third place.
A double was achieved by A Farrant by coming out in The Ski Direct Control sponsored Open Maiden and winning by three lengths from Mrs Smith's ONMYWAYHOME (Mr M Munrowd) with Mr T Long & Mr M Stocker's BALDHU JAY ARR (A Ede) six lengths back in third.
The eighth and final race looked as though the said A Farrant could accomplish a treble by the race card, but when I consulted my lady at the numbers board she had changed the jockey on Mr D Johnson's BERMUDA BLUE to Ollie Green. I kept my eye on the board and sure enough the change had to be. I am having difficulty as this stage, carrying a fat wallet in rain sodden trousers so I had better invest again - a little! So to the 'bookies' with multiple thoughts. Will Mrs S Alford's KESTICK live up to his trainers opinion? Will Mr C Blank's CLASSIC MISTRESS (R Darke) run a good race again? She did at Flete back along! I let the facts that: Mr D Johnson normally buys horses for the National Hunt courses and not for P to Pointing; it was the only grey in the race; finally, I liked the island of Bermuda when I was there in 1964, convince me, so on it goes! BERMUDA BLUE. The rest is history! KESTICK did not let his trainer or Mrs Alford down and came in second; CLASSIC MISTRESS ran a very good race and came in third but BERMUDA BLUE came in first by five lengths and I again 'picked up'.
A super day which was finished off with a really lovely Point-to-Point dinner at The Ship Inn, Wadebridge for about 25 stalwarts which included the visitors from Wales who drank heartily out of SAM's flowing bowl. I did learn a little at the dinner, SAM's jockey speaks many languages BUT Welsh is definitely not one of them.
Cheers for now. Eleven race at The Tiverton Foxhounds meeting tomorrow and what's more - I have the stuff in my pocket that can be doubled or lost but one thing is certain - we will have another good day Point to Pointing!