by Brian and Gill Armstrong

A large crowd enjoyed excellent racing at the Taunton Vale Hunts' point-to-point meeting at Cothelstone on Easter Monday. A minute’s silence was held prior to the first race for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who died on Saturday aged 101.

          The opening Hunt race was a triumph for husband and wife team Ben and Mel Dixon from Allerford, near Norton Fitzwarren, when Ground Nut led throughout to hold off Rescator and favourite Mrs Be. This was 28-year-old Ben’s first race ride for four years and Mel’s first runner as a trainer. Mel used to look after Ground Nut at Bob Buckler’s Melplash yard and was given a half share in the horse two years ago by owner, Rose Haskins, who was present on Monday to see his success.


The 56&7yo Open Maiden went to the Ali Tory-trained Pulham Downe who was up with the pace throughout under Emma Tory. Pulham Downe was a first winner for owners Sarah Wadey of Buckland Newton, Sherborne osteopath Alex Gibbs and Hinton St Mary cabinet maker Chris Kendall, who bred the horse in partnership with Hazelbury Bryan farrier Nick Freak.


Eighteen-year-old Charlotte Tizzard rode her first winner of the season when Encima del Rio led at the last to take the Confined. The winner is trained at Milborne Port by Charlotte’s father, Alan, who bought the horse in partnership with Blandford horse transporter Paddy Foot at Ascot sales two months ago.


The Men’s Open resulted in an easy success for the Rose Vickery-trained Polar Flight who pulled well clear during the final circuit for an easy 20 length success under Ashley Farrant. Winning owner John Kinnear was not present, but enjoyed a telephone commentary from Rose’s husband Len during the race.


Horse physiotherapist Wendy Southcombe rode her first winner of the season when one of her former patients, Ardross Gem, led two out to take the Ladies’ Open from favourite Mollycarrsbrekfast. Ardross Gem, who relished the better ground, is one of four horses trained at Hardington Mandeville by Wendy’s father, Peter, and was bought jointly by Wendy and by Suzanne Cook of Littlewindsor from breeder David Chesney two years ago.


The Restricted went to The Frosty Fox and Michael Miller who were prominent throughout and held off Timber Top with General Typhoon in third. The Frosty Fox is owned and trained at Fovant by Linda Syckelmoore and has now won twice and been second once in his three races since wearing blinkers.


Seventeen-year-old Owyn Nelmes rode his first ever winner when Ok So franked his recent Taunton form to take Division One of the 8yo & over Open Maiden. Ok So is one of four horses owned and trained at Warmwell near Dorchester by Owyn’s father Ken who bought the horse at Ascot Sales in July 2000. Owyn, who punched the air when crossing the line, is an Amateur rider for Bob Buckler’s Melplash stables. Merv Woodward, 23, rode his third career winner when Porlock Hill caught long time leader Bright Flash at the last to take Division Two. Porlock Hill is owned by Sue Popham, who bought the horse six weeks ago at Ascot and trains him at West Bagborough. With Sue at Chepstow and husband Chris at Towcester, Porlock Hill was saddled by Max Churches who raced that fine horse Panmure 25 years ago.