by Brian & Gill Armstrong

A glorious Spring day at Cothelstone under the Quantock Hills made for a pleasurable day’s racing for all at the annual Quantock Staghounds Point-to-Point on Saturday. The highlights of the meeting were first riding successes for William White and Tom Bishop and a double for Rilly Goschen and trainer John Dufosee.

The opening race, the Hunt Members, provided the closest finish of the day with William White riding Caundle Chase just prevailing by a short head from Keltic Lord ridden by Jim White. William, 20, is at University at Seal Hay studying Land and Estate Management and made his riding debut at Holnicote in February 2000.  Caundle Chase, owner-bred by Mr and Mrs Peter Doggrell from Henstridge, was also having his first career victory, having been placed upon a number of occasions last year and a close second to Mont Aca at Holnicote last month.

The Maiden race for 5, 6 & 7 year olds run over 2½ miles brought memories flooding back for the first lady ever to ride in the Grand National, Charlotte Brew, following her victory with her mare Kildysart Lady. Charlotte, now Mrs Budd, was saddling her first winner for nearly 20 years with the horse, which she acquired from Chris and Sue Popham last year. The victory proved a tonic for rider James Young who had a rather disappointing ride in the Foxhunters this week aboard Quetal.

Rilly Goschen rode the first of her double aboard Hazel Goody’s Frank Byrne, who was returning to form after a disappointing run last time. Rilly bided her time before drawing clear to score by 10 lengths in the Ladies’ Open.

Tigger Barnes came in for a spare ride in the Men’s Open race under Cool Wager, as the horse’s usual rider, Dominic Alers Hankey, is still recovering from a broken leg.  Tigger had never ridden for the horse’s owner, Hilary ‘Tigger’ Pudd before today, but proved a more than able deputy, although his task was made easier by the departure of the favourite, Quickswood, at the 12th fence.

Tom Bishop recorded his first riding success in the Confined Race aboard his mother Frances’ Gladiatorial, which was bought for him to ride last year.  Tom, 19, is currently enjoying his gap year before going to Exeter University where he will be reading Ancient History.

Nearly Noble was the most impressive winner of the day for owner rider Ben Dixon in the Intermediate Race. He won by a very comfortable margin of 12 lengths and was eased near the finish. Ben’s wife, Mel, who trains the horse near Norton Fitzwarren, reported that after they bought the horse at the Ascot Sales last year he had been rather sour but a spell of hunting had sweetened him.

Thunder Thighs, trained by Ali Tory and ridden by Naddan Wilmington, won the first division of the Maiden. The horse, who was bred by one of her three owners, Nick Freak, had been unlucky in previous races, particularly at Badbury Rings last year. The mare’s unusual name was, in fact, attributed to Nick’s very young daughter Jenna and not to any other connections with the stable!

The final race, Division two of the maiden, was the second of Rilly Goschen’s victories and proved a first ever winner for Alan and Margaret Carter with their horse Hawkers Hill. He had shown some ability in National Hunt Flat races but then broke down. After a long period of recovery he returned to racing this year and Alan was quick to pay credit to the training skills of John Dufosee in nursing him back to fitness. Alan will shortly be retiring as a vet in Shaftesbury and was naturally delighted with this early retirement present.