by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

What a great difference some good weather makes; increased amount of ‘Hellos’, many more smiles, a lot less clothing to carry around and no need of the ‘wellies’.  Great!  The Buckfastleigh Racecourse looked super from the main road and was just as good when we parked the car along with other regular ‘goers’.  Good chat, reliable form, and ‘sure thing tips’ abounded.  All set for some good racing. 

Believe it or not, that first paragraph was copied from last years report.  As this year it was exactly the same it was a case of ‘if its not broke why mend it!  Lovely weather is a bonus at all Point to Points and we have not had too much of it lately.  It’s all changed now and for the remainder of the season, the sun will shine.

A meeting which includes a parade of stallions, a parade of hounds, seven well-contested races and an informative race card all go to making a very successful programme and that is exactly what it was.  Our addition to the family for the day, young Jade, managed to pick two winners and a second, Ruth managed to do exactly the same and I did a little bit better but due to the man I invested with not giving me very good odds, not a lot of money changed hands.

In The Agriwise Members’, Farmers’ and Subscribers’ Race, five went to post to provide a very competitive race.  Jacqueline Malone took the Best Turned Out prize for her charge Mrs G Andrews BUCK LOCK (C Sharkey).  This horse looked the part for me so I invested.  A very good price was obtained as others preferred to concentrate on Mr T Whitley’s SWINCOMBE (Tabitha Cave) who won this race last year (incidentally won me some money as well), along with Mrs R Welch & Mrs D Treneer’s BOMBA CHARGER (S Holdsworth) and Mr D Williams’s WELL ARMED (A Farrant). I was kept very busy during this race, watching my horse and jockey to see what they would do next.  One minute jumping well, one minute on the track, next minute ran out, next minute jockey looking like he was riding side saddle for a change and the next time he, BUCK LOCK, came past me I searched but could not see a jockey at all.  Ah! well, put it down to experience but watch this horse, he will repay me and in the not too distant future.  I do hope Gordon (Chambers) gets to read this!  SWINCOMBE superbly ridden by Tabitha Cave took hold of the race in the final stages and went on to win by 3 lengths from WELL ARMED who was 10 lengths up on BOMBA CHARGER, in a time of 6 minutes 23 secs.

The Totnes and Bridgetown Men’s Open Race consisted of 12 runners and I decided not to follow the previous system of choosing the Best Turned Out for my investment although I must say Rebecca Holmes duly deserved the credit for the way Mr M Holmes’s SHOTLEY AGAIN (Michael Holmes) paraded.  My choice this time was easy, as I had seen the jointly owned FANFARON (L Jefford) come second to Escartefigue at Chipley Park and although I was favoured by Mr R Rawle’s LONGSTONE LAD also at Chipley Park, I chose FANFARON to carry my hard earned shillings.  I’ve recently picked up a little by picking daffodils for local growers and I turned an in-lamb ewe over the other day for which the farmer gave me a small tip, which was being carried in a very small wallet so I drew it all out and on it went.  Mrs J Miller’s MISS O’GRADY (M Miller) was going to be a threat but then from my experiences of Men’s Open Races lately, they are very competitive races anyway so its time to cross anything that will cross, and enjoy the race.  My choice is a classy individual and did the correct thing and caused me no worries whatsoever.  I remember Charles Egerton and Normal Williamson once spoke very highly of this individual but never so much praise was heaped on a horse as this one, FANFARON, as he passed the post 15 lengths in front of MISS O’GRADY, the Lets Get It On Club’s DARAYDAN (A Farrant) 15 lengths away in third.  Off to collect a nice little earner but the price was not very exciting.  This was the fastest time of the day (6m 13 secs), even faster than the Ladies Open!

The Ham & Huddy (Confined Hunts) Maiden Race is for horses aged five, six and seven years old only and brought out a field of ten runners.  It was good to see Mr G Roach’s colours in the paddock again but how did the ‘bookies’ know this was an odds-on shot that he had brought to the meeting when he hasn’t raced before?  Yes, the breeding is one to be very proud of, a lovely Dad, and Mum was no slouch but then he has to travel three miles and jump fences and not be brought down by others etc.  I joined fellow punters and took good odds about P Phillips’s blinkered MALIAN (L Jefford), and took no notice of the odds-on BOLT ACTION (T Dennis) from Mr Roach’s stable.  It was a good race run in a time of 6 minutes 27 seconds and was won by the odds-on shot BOLT ACTION, but those investors who took the skinny odds must have had a nervous shock at the last fence when our well bred little horse decided only at the last minute to clear the fence and not dive out.  So it can happen, even to the best but it didn’t and some people collected a little.  My choice came in fourth so I collected nothing but Mr & Mrs A Heywood’s SHRILANKA (A Middleton) second and Mrs L Edwards & Mr P Warren’s VAL MAN (R Darke), third both ran good races and will be closely watched.  As for MALIAN, well I will remember him because – ‘he owes me!’

Two divisions of Restricted Races followed and my associates chose Mrs K Nicholas’s (L Jefford) HAPPY TEAM to win Division One, which she duly did by just a head from my selection, Mr R Rawle’s YOUMEANDHIM (R Wollacott) with four lengths back Mr M Lethbridges BYMYSIDE (A Barnett) in third.  Why didn’t I follow Jade who liked the royal blue with gold sleeves and a red and blue-hooped cap?  Never mind I enjoyed the contest and will do better in future.

The second division sponsored by C R Wilcocks & Co Ltd/Merlo UK Ltd was another closely contested race with Mssrs J Sheppard, W Rayner & P Curling’s POSH AS YOU LIKE (C Heard) getting home a length in front of Mrs S Batchelors DAMIENS PRIDE (T Dennis) with my selection, Mrs G Brakes’s FATHER JIM (N Harris) being brought into third place.  No one picked up here but we must be a little stupid as I had been in touch (e-mail) with one of the part owners only on Friday and did not think to probe for a little information.  Now that’s how the ‘bookies’ know and I don’t; they would have asked where I was a little shy!!  Next time Will - stand by!

I had been looking forward to The Western Morning News & Devon Today Ladies Race as I was sure to pick-up.  I saw the runners yesterday and was positive that if my horse ran – he would win.  No not a racing certainty but the nearest I will get to it.  He was in the paddock so strictly business from here on in!  How much? What if he doesn’t run so well?  Different jockey from last time!  Won this race last year with this jockey! 

On it all goes!  Most of it is in ten pence pieces as it s the electric meter money again and some came from a new source – I have fitted a meter to the washing machine and dryer so there was a little in that tin.  Only after I took my computer record of the total investment and the total return (if I won!) did I see ‘blinkers’ were on Miss S Samworth’s GAROLO.  Now did he run in blinkers before? Has he been paying attention or has he been looking around I ask myself?  Too late, it’s on!  Twelve went to post.  After a complete circuit I had carved a pit into the turf underneath me as I jumped every fence with GAROLO but my investment was travelling well in mid division. (That means not in the first two and certainly not last.)  Safely past me on the second circuit and at the open ditch for the final time there was a faller – in fact two fallers, I being one of them as I tripped over the tow bar of the ice cream van which was behind me when the race started – the other faller could not be identified and it was minutes, or at least it seemed like it, before I became aware that it was not GAROLO.  It was a great thrill when down the back straight on the final circuit, my investment started to make a sensible move and was closing on the leaders.  Polly Gundry was going well on Mr R Kelvin-Hughes’s HOBBY CYR, the Young Family’s SAINT JOSEPH still travelling well.  Ollie Green on Mr B Kilpatricks SLEW MAN now making a move – at this point I am told to ‘shut up’ by more than one person as they informed me that neither the horse nor jockey could hear me yet!  I had different ideas!  The second fence from home saw three horses in the air together and all looking if they could win but surely no – not at this stage will GAROLO let me down!!  Then the lovely tones of the commentator informed me that my horse had ‘taken it up’ and was a length in front.  Only one more fence!  Now I have seen disasters at this fence before but surely not this time – GAROLO in sight, in front and UP – whoopee – over in fine style but now HOBBY CYR was still being pushed by Polly but not to worry GAROLO cannot be caught now and – well I told you – it was all so easy really!

There was another race but I had to stay next to my case as it was bulging, well - not quite. The Farriers Confined Hunts Maiden Race for horses aged 8 years and over was won by Miss L Cole’s FROG STREET (L Jefford) by four lengths from Mr M Sweetland’s JOHN ROBIN (M Sweetland) with Mrs Kitttow’s ROSALEE ROYALE (R Woolacott) third.  We did not invest in this race because of no room left in the bag for rewards but JOHN ROBIN please win soon.  ROSALEE ROYALE definitely will! 

Congratulation to Les Jefford on a neat little treble and not one winner from Mr Pipe’s stable – that is unusual!

A lovely day out, in grand company and only one complaint - a pity all the loudspeakers faced up the hill with none facing the spectators in the centre of the course.  There were twelve of them after all, speakers I mean!

Next week its Minehead Harriers and West Somerset at Holnicote and on Sunday its East Cornwall Foxhounds at Great Trethew.  We are onto a good thing; you could be too if you go POINT TO POINTING. 

All the best

Fred, Ruth & Jade