by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

The weather forecast was not too good for this meeting at Black Forest Lodge but we set off and were pleased to hear on Radio Devon that the meeting was definitely on. The advantage of the 4 x 4 was evident when we parked in our low down spot by the same telegraph pole as in the past and lit the gas stove for a first coffee of the day.

I walked the course, Ruth decided not to as the biscuits had to be unwrapped and the clipboard arranged to store the forthcoming results. What excuses!! This course is in really good condition and it must be so rewarding to have owners who will keep the area clear for the sole use of Point to Points. The first race started whilst I was still out on the course, chatting as one does, and it was the first time I have seen a circuit from a different angle. I can recommend this to anyone as you will update yourself with some of the less noticeable trials and tribulations of the Point-to-Point jockey - more later!

The Mens Open race went to the favourite COUNTY DERRY (N Harris), who I was surprised to see out again so soon after a demanding run at the PPORA meeting at Barbury Castle but he seems to thrive on it. Cheltenham is a few weeks off yet! The Welsh visitor Mr & Mrs J Lowrie's DAT MY HORSE will make amends very soon.

My choice of Mr Samworth's GAROLO for the Ladies Open didn't come off. I'm sure if he were put into the race a little earlier a better performance would have been registered, he was well last on completion of the first circuit and started to close to fourth at third last! As it was, he had to be satisfied with second place to Mrs R Newman's BRETECHE.

I see Mr P Froud's AMATRAK EXPRESS is entered for North Cornwall's Point-to-Point meeting at Wadebridge next weekend - well he deserves to win a race. At 15 years of age he travelled really well to give The Lets Get It On Club's DARAYDAN a fright in the Wilkinson Grant & Co Confined Hunts Race. He got up to be only half a length away from winning!

Talking about trials and tribulations - before leaving home I borrowed what was left of the winter heating allowance and Christmas bonus, promised Ruth that it would possibly be doubled and chose my horse quite early on for the first division of the Open Maiden Races. I have fortunately been privileged to see local Pointers being schooled recently and one 'maiden' in particular has been looking the part. On went my Senior citizens bonus and thoughts of lovely roaring fires for the rest of the winter flashed across my eyes. My selection started well and by the time this 8-year-old bay gelding had reached the third flight, he was leading the field along with two others in close company. This trio were at least 15 lengths in front of the other contenders. This pattern continued until Mr R Williams MOBAYE decided to get rid of his jockey when he seemed to be going so well. (slight snigger!) After one complete circuit my 'investment' was 15 lengths in front with The Nice Approach Partnership's NICE APPROACH in second spot with Mrs J P Ackners HORRIFIED making good headway into third place. I opened the car door and turned up Louis Armstrong's rendering of Wonderful World so that all and sundry could see that I had backed a winner!! At the 13th my fella was over twenty lengths to the good but the gap to second place shortening a little and as NICE APPROACH tired, Mr D Edwards brought HORRIFIED into second place. Wait for it! As Richard Woollacott put out his right hand signalling he wished to turn down hill to pass the start line for the final time and make for home, at least 15 lengths in front, Mr J Weldhen's WONDERFUL WORLD, carrying all my sound investment, decided a look over the hedge and into the neighbouring farm was required and ran out a mile wide. Mr Edwards convinced HORRIFIED that there was nothing over the hedge worth looking at and to travel in the direction of the race course and so, took up first placing.

There must be a story behind the name HORRIFIED, but it is an adjective that describes exactly how I felt when this took place. Ruth glared at me as she realised that the sitting room will be without heat for yet, at least, another week. WONDERFUL WORLD got back into the race and ran on well to close the gap to four lengths at the finishing line. NICE APPROACH came in third 20 lengths further back. I walked with Mr Weldhen to the unsaddling enclosure where he put on a brave face but like me - he was truly HORRIFIED!

The next four maidens enabled me to lose the remaining coins of the Christmas Heating allowance and the bonus and although I pleaded a little, Ruth would not let me have a sub from next year's allowance.

What was left to give me something to laugh about were the remarks from partnerships, trainers and owners about their maiden runners - always lovely to hear:

He went better than I thought he would! (fell at the second!)
He has never raced before! (flipped around at the start and unseated!)
Jumped quite well I thought? (only on the first circuit - noticeably absent on the second!)
I only brought him for the run out! (So did all the others! but at least they 'ran')
He'll be better for the run! (After coming in last, he has got to be!)

That's about it for now but it is great to be back and I hope we will see you at Wadebridge AND Chipley Park, don't forget the card has been brought forward to 1100 am there on Sunday. Eleven races!