by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The West Somerset Vale Hunt held its annual point to point meeting at Cothelstone, near Taunton, on Sunday. Highlights included doubles for West Bagborough owner-trainer Sue Popham and for Exford rider Merv Woodward, while there was a first-ever win for 28-year-old Bampton rider Lynn Guilfoyle. Before racing, Hunt chairman Robert Pocock made a presentation to former Point-to-Point Secretary, Margaret Brake, in recognition of her 10 years' service and to Terry Chidgey, who has contributed to the West Somerset point-to-point for over 50 years.

The opening Hunt race went to Suba Lin who asserted from four out to provide Brent Knoll rider David Luff with his first winner of the season. Suba Lin, winner of the corresponding race in 2000, is owned and trained by breeder Carol Atyeo at Moorland, near Bridgwater. David, who had a spell Arab racing a few years ago, reported that his fine horse Brent Mystery, now 26, is still at home "running round the paddock like a two-year-old".

Sue Popham's double was initiated when Porlock Hill led two out to take the Restricted race under Merv Woodward. Sue was at Chepstow when Porlock Hill won here on Easter Monday, but was present with husband Chris to witness the horse's success on Sunday.

Emma Tory rode her fifth winner in what is already her best season when her Spring Marathon was left well clear at the 14th to take the Mixed Open. Spring Marathon, benefiting from the application of a visor, raced with great enthusiasm and relished the fast ground. Emma, who will spend five months in Cape Town with her aunt this summer, was keen to credit her mother Mary for the many hours spent hunting and walking Spring Marathon to maintain his interest and enthusiasm.

Merv Woodward completed his double when Zatopek made up a lot of ground to take the Novice Riders' Intermediate race. Zatopek was bought at Malvern two years ago by Simonsbath trainer Lucinda Roberts for a six strong Exford syndicate who meet regularly at their local Crown Inn to discuss plans for the horse.

Favourite backers soon knew their fate in the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members' race when Rescator went through the wing of the 3rd fence, leaving rider Ashley Farrant stiff and sore in his left shoulder. The race went to the Polly Curling-trained Hylters Chance who made most of the running under Colin Heard and fought back when overtaken by Western Fort four out. Hylters Chance is owned by North Curry farmer John Hebditch, Jilly Cook of Wiveliscombe, Devon & Somerset Staghounds MFH Maurice Scott and Minehead vet Phil Browne.

Sue Popham completed her double when Mac Five took Division One of the Open Maiden under Dominic Alers-Hankey. Mac Five, bought at Doncaster in May 2000 from Shane Donohoe, was backward under Rules last season but could return to that sphere for 2002/03. In Division Two Uncle James, a full brother to Cheltenham Festival winner My Young Man, came from well off the pace to give 28-year-old owner-rider Lynn Guilfoyle her first ever winner. Lynn, who rides out regularly for winning trainer Tessa White, is Restaurant manager at the Exeter Inn in Bampton, run by her mother Ann and by John Harvey, father of point-to-point rider Dominic and Racing Channel presenter Luke.