by Brian & Gill Armstrong

Spectators enjoyed an eventful afternoon’s racing at the Minehead Harriers & West Somerset Foxhounds point-to-point meeting at Holnicote on Saturday. The highlight was a first-ever win for 30-year-old rider Clare Oldham in Division Two of the Open Maiden race.

The opening Restricted race went to Polka, who caught long-time leader Jolly Red at the second last for a six length success. This was a sixth point-to-point winner of the season for Milborne Port rider Charlotte Tizzard, deputising for Darren Edwards who broke his left wrist in a Wincanton fall the previous evening. Polka is owned and trained at Stogumber by farmer Gerald Greenway, who bought the horse from Percy Norman while enjoying a drink at the 2001 Tiverton point-to-point at Chipley Park.

Division One of the Open Maiden was won by Hottentot and Alex Charles-Jones with Burley Don Carlos making a promising debut in second. Hottentot is trained at Cullompton by Ollie Bush for 81-year-old John Daniell, who recalled winning races on the horse’s great grand dam Pure Chance. John has a long association with the sport and won the Liverpool Foxhunters twice on April Queen and Aerial III in the early 1960s. 

There was an unfortunate sequel to Division Two of the Open Maiden race when all the way winner Summer Snow was disqualified after missing a marker and taking the wrong course. This would have been a family success as Summer Snow was ridden by Owyn Nelmes, trained by father Ken and owned by mother Helen jointly with Tina Pichard. The race was awarded to the Philip Greenwood-trained Hold The Fort to give 30-year-old Bicknoller therapist Clare Oldham her first-ever win from just five rides. Clare and joint-owner June Gregory bought the horse from Allan Dunn and evented him to Intermediate standard before beginning his point-to-point career this season.

The Mixed Open race went to Hylters Chance who led throughout the last circuit under Boscastle rider Colin Heard. Hylters Chance is trained at Treborough by Polly Curling and provided a birthday present for Minehead vet Phil Browne who owns the horse jointly with Jilly Cook of Wiveliscombe, North Curry farmer John Hebditch and Devon & Somerset Staghounds MFH Maurice Scott. Connections were keen to praise Colin, who raced on a strip of the horse’s favoured fast ground on the inside of the course.

The Countryside Alliance Club Members Novice Riders race was won by Sunburnt and Julie Houldey, who made most of the running and finished alone after the challenging Heavy Hustler and Anna Clifford went through the wing at the last fence. Sunburnt is trained at North Nibley near Dursley by Julie for neighbours Gary and Julie Salter, who bought the horse in a private purchase at Ascot Sales in June 2002.

Beadnell Bay and Rilly Goschen made most of the running and held the challenge of Vercheny and Leslie Jefford to take the Intermediate race. The horse was a present from breeder John Dufosee to son Sean and daughter-in-law Allison to celebrate their 1997 wedding and is named after the Northumberland fishing village where Allison was brought up. 

The closing Confined race went to Gotha who led throughout the final circuit under Hemyock farmer Martin Sweetland. Gotha is owned and trained at his livery stables at Clayhidon by Chris Brake who bought the horse from Lavinia Taylor at Ascot Sales in April 2002.