by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

Early start, good drive up and we are on a Point-to-Point course we have never visited before.  Good viewing is assured as we park up, kettle on and sit back to survey our surroundings.  This is big country up here and you can see for miles but the immediate view is one we are now off to strut around.  We are on chalk, which is evident, when you see fallen trees beside the course, the roots and the surround make it more than obvious and old-fashioned teachers would be in their heaven picking up these lumps, no doubt some for black board use and others destined as life as a missile, at least they were in my school.  The going is good to firm in my opinion and for those wishing a left handed course with guaranteed good going, this is the place for you.

We started off with a three runner Wilton Hunt Members Race and although the winner was a little obvious, to gamble on a forecast was the ploy.  My ploy!  Mrs Syckelmoore’s THE FROSTY FOX was previously a good second so out of the remaining two I only had to pick a horse to come second.  Dr Jowetts IMPERATIVE (A Charles-Jones) was the better of the other two in the betting ring but joining these two up didn’t give a very good price so I opted for Mr J Kwiatkowski DRUMAGOLANDS GOLDEN ENVOY (sounds like the Golden Retriever who came second at Crufts!) who was to be ridden by his owner.  I chose him as my selection to come second to THE FROSTY FOX and the reliable man in charge of my investment was prepared to bet me 6 to 1 that he didn’t.  Well he was wrong and I was right, so right that the expenses for the journey have been returned already and a little more, to allow me to enjoy the remainder of the afternoon in great style.  Always better when one is using someone else’s money!  The result was that the best turned out THE FROSTY FOX beat DRUMAGOLANDS GOLDEN ENVOY (nothing to do with Crufts now!) by a distance and IMPERATIVE was another distance away, third in a good time of 6 minutes 8 seconds.

A good idea by the committee is to get the commentator to call the fences both by number and sponsors name but it was a while before I got used to the fact that fence 3 and 13 was sponsored by Symonds & Sampson and that it was not a broadcast for me to return my hard earned reward from the first race to the ‘poor’ bookie man or some such bad news!

The South Wilts NFU Open Maiden Race for 5, 6 & 7 year olds brought out 13 runners and the one that caught my eye was the best turned out 7 year old Be My Native gelding owned by Mr A Wardal - NATIONAL DEBT (J Barnes) but with no known form and others with form, I had better choose again!  It is reported to me that Mr Pike & L Webb’s KJ JIMMY (M Miller) was doing well in poorer conditions at Barbury before coming to grief but I see Mr & Mrs Monck’s GALAXY MINSTREL (M Baldock) has a tongue strap so this somewhat ‘cool’ air will go down well into his lungs and could make a difference.  I will settle for a bold jumping front-runner with practically no form to date to carry my investment as I think this course will suit.  The Froud family’s MAYFAIR MONARCH will carry my investment – NO! late change! I checked my little book again and the horse that did run well at Larkhill and also likes to front run and is recorded as ‘will improve’ will be trusted to pay for the evening meal is now N Freak, C Kendally & Mrs Wadey’s THUNDER THIGHS (R Young).  Exciting! – with a complete circuit to race my concern is and has been always – out in front!  Well that is where I would expect a front runner to be but mine is out in front of the front-runners – leading the way! At the final open ditch – the Symonds & Sampson open ditch – THUNDER THIGHS had GALAXY MINSTREL up sides practically followed by Mrs Jowett’s RUBY FLARE (S Hayes) and now Mrs Rees EMALI (Tabitha Cave) beginning to close up a bit and R & Dr C Fry’s SIMPLY SAM (N Williams) not out of it.  They are now at the far end of the course and it is here you can judge the distance between horses quite well as they cross to commence the race up hill towards the final bend and home straight.  There are eight runners in the leading bunch but my concern is the leading one.  MAYFAIR MONARCH has been pulled up!  At fence 15 RUBY FLARE fell and in doing so interfered with EMALI.  On to fence 16 with my horse making a really bold effort to lead for the entire race when I heard the devastating news that no one with any interest at all wants to hear and that is ‘THUNDER THIGHS has fallen at that one’ leaving GALAXY MINSTREL out in front with SIMPLY SAM under Nick Williams making a good effort to get on terms.  At the 18th fence three horses were in line as Marc Miller brought KJ JIMMY on the scene. Over the last and KJ JIMMY decided he had had enough and was very tired and got rid of Marc Miller and the race was left leaving GALAXY MINSTREL to cross the line a head to the good over SIMPLY SAM with a very tired Mrs P Strawbridge’s FORGLORI (O Nelmes) coming into third place a distance back.  I enjoyed this race even though the benefit to me was little but I know a lady who did.  Well done Ruth!

I should have relied even more on Ruth for the winner of the next race as she predicted that Alex (Charles-Jones) would not have come to this meeting to ride three horses and then dash to Fontwell for the ride on Caldamus if he was not sure of at least one winner.  Well he has ridden two and was not placed in one and picked up a third place in a three horse race in the first, so this next ride must be the one he will win on!!  It is The Southern Counties Auctioneers Gentleman’s Open Race with 14 going to post. The early leader was the head strong Oliver Carter owned, Phillip York ridden VENN OTTERY.  This is a head strong animal and it was quite some time before he settled but when he did it was him that led the field over the 14th by a couple of lengths with HALLS MILL in second and Mr J Richardson’s BIT ‘O’ SPEED close up in third.  At the 15th VENN OTTERY made a bad mistake and was passed by HALLS MILL and BIT ‘O’ SPEED. Mr P Clarke’s FRIAR WADDON now took up third place with some of the others in with a chance. At the 19th HALLS MILL although obviously tired came away from the field leaving the best turned out FRIAR WADDON (D Edwards) to take second place and BIT OF SPEED beaten into third. Well done Ruth – it could be a meal from the other purse this evening!  The horse to watch from this race VENN OTTERY!

Mrs C Tuffin must be very proud of Miss C Tuffin after the way she (Miss C Tuffin) rode OUT’N’ABOUT in The Countryside Alliance Club Members Race for Novice Riders.  Twelve went to post and it was J Boulter & Miss F Wilkins’s WHISPERING PINES (J Jenkins) who was popular at the bookies because this was the horse with some form but I invested on Mr S Redwood’s MASTER BUCKLEY who I saw run well at Black Forest Lodge.  All these horses are established campaigners at this game and very sensible rides for the novices, the oldest being Mr Green’s INDIAN KNIGHT who has given a lot of fun to his owners in the past.  OUT’N’ABOUT and WHISPERING PINES were in the van for most of the first circuit with Miss Cowe’s blinkered RED LIGHTER also well in touch and the Froud’s AMTRAK EXPRESS also going well.  At the second open ditch, remember, the Symonds & Sampson Open ditch; it was WHISPERING PINES and AMTRAK EXPRESS who led with OUT’N’ABOUT being reported as beginning to ‘beat a retreat’ – no one told Miss C Tuffin this bit.  At the 15th it was still the 15 year old AMTRAK EXPRESS leading and the younger by five years, WHISPERING PINES in second place with the ‘hanging on grimly’ OUT’N’ABOUT in third and Mr Green’s WIN THE TOSS now closing a little, in fourth place.  At the 18th WHISPERING PINES regained the lead from AMTRAK EXPRESS, but age began to tell and it was the supposedly tiring OUT’N’ABOUT who now came into second place and the look of determination was extremely clear on Miss C Tuffin’s face as she rode for the line, it was going to be her race if she had anything to do with it.  I will wager (again!) that Miss C Tuffin will never forget that ride for the line and credit to her – she won by a short head in a very sensible time of 6 minutes 25 seconds.  It was thrilling to watch and for sure a lot more thrilling to have taken part in and the video will be shown and the champagne drunk and toasts made to a very worthy win.  Well done!

A Ladies Open qualifier for the 2002 Gerrard Championship at Exeter was to follow with only 7 going to post.  I noticed that Ms Sweeting’s MR CUSTARD qualified with the Cury Hunt which hunt The Lizard peninsula near my home so I think that is just enough information for me to follow the investing on this one very closely. (Amazing what one finds as ‘form’ when desperate!!)  Incidentally this is one of the few hunts here in the Westcountry that doesn’t have a point-to-point meeting, which is a pity!   Mr Cullen’s LORD BARGY (Miss R Green) fell at the first and after that the field began to string out being led by L Borradaile’s POLDEN PRIDE (later to unseat when going well!) with Mandy Hand on T Stevens & P Browne’s BARDON HILL BOY, Tabitha Cave on Mrs Goody’s FRANK BYRNE and Mr I & Mrs T Rogers’s NODDADANTE all close up.  It was not too long before MR CUSTARD came into his own and took a commanding lead and went on to win by 10 lengths and then a distance between Oliver Carter’s VAGUE IDEA (O Green) who made up ground well, and FRANK BYRNE.  There were words sounding like ‘Liverpool next’ as the connections left the paddock with well earned silver but by the look on Mummy’s face, some convincing will have to be done.

In the Restricted Race I again managed to pick the winner and get a really sensible price about him.  Mr G Foot’s FRANKLIN’S BEST with Nick Mitchell aboard looked the part for me.  His form of ‘run 17 w2’ might not seem very good but when one of the ‘2’ was his last race then what more could you ask for?  It was only a ‘Farmers’ race he won and only by half a length but he did beat WILD NATIVE who has form and who will be running at Ston Easton tomorrow.  All added up – on it goes, not all but most!  Not a lot to worry about, only six to beat and this he did quite nicely.  Mr Young’s MAKHPIYA PATAHN (D Turner) was second and BUTTERWICK KING owned by half the ladies in the Somerset Vale came in third, well at least four of them anyway!

Two divisions of Open Maidens both sponsored by The Hall Insurance Services followed, the first being taken most convincingly by Mrs Burgess’s BALEE BETTY (J Snowden) by 15 lengths from THE WEE GENERAL (R Young) whose owners look as though they decided on a ‘pointer’ at the WI Ladies Committee meeting, the charming Madame’s H Robinson, B Tarr, K Buckett and then – whoops! Mister Reeve, with Mr Froud’s THE CHAIN GANG (J Jenkins) in third place. 

Finally, having recovered from his exertions in winning the first race, Mr Miller went out onboard Mr R McKenzie Johnston’s MILLCROFT REGATTA and promptly won the last race with a good fight for second place between L Sweetings FORTLANDER and Nick Mitchell onboard Mrs King’s GET A MAN. Lucinda won the battle and got her man by a neck! 

Off we go now to travel overland to stay at a farm near Ston Easton ready for tomorrows meeting of the Mendip Farmers’ and there will be no arguments tonight who pays for the meal – we both have a little of ‘their money’ but I am sure its only loaned!  Fred