by Brian & Gill Armstrong

A large crowd enjoyed excellent racing at the Taunton Vale Hunts' point-to-point meeting at Kingston St Mary on Easter Monday. The opening Hunt race went to Nearly Noble who came from well off the pace for a comfortable win in the hands of owner-rider Ben Dixon. The horse, who is trained by Ben’s wife Mel at their home at Allerford, near Norton Fitzwarren, was bought by the Dixons at Ascot Sales last November and has recovered from a blood disorder which affected his running at the recent Cattistock meeting.

Ollie Jackson rode her third winner of the season when the David Pipe-trained Jolly Red made most of the running to take the 56&7yo Open Maiden race. This was a first point-to-point winner for owner Terry Neill who bought Jolly Red at a public sale in France and whose familiar white and red colours were carried under Rules by the very talented but ill-fated Gloria Victis.

The Confined Hunts race to Cherokee Run who made all under Charlotte Tizzard, 19, and just held the sustained challenge of Link Copper and Ollie Jackson by a head with favourite Friar Waddon back in third. Cherokee Run is trained at Milborne Port by Charlotte’s father Alan, who jointly owns the horse with Roy Bullock from Norton Ferris near Maiden Bradley. Cherokee Run is now likely to be aimed at a Wincanton Hunter Chase.

The Men’s Open race was won by Hylters Chance and Colin Heard who were always holding favourite Tony’s Time after kicking on five out. Hylters Chance is trained at Treborough by Polly Curling for joint owners Jilly Cook of Wiveliscombe, North Curry farmer John Hebditch, Devon & Somerset Staghounds MFH Maurice Scott and Minehead vet Phil Browne. Hylters Chance loves fast ground and gets on especially well with Colin who made a 300 mile round trip from Boscastle to take the ride.

Horse physiotherapist Wendy Southcombe won the Taunton Vale Ladies’ Open for the fourth time when Ardross Gem took the race for the second successive year. 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 three years ago. Ardross Gem may now be aimed at the John Corbet Cup at Stratford on 30th May.

The Restricted went to Prince On The Ter and Alex Charles-Jones who were already well clear when sole rival Inforapop refused at both of the last two fences before completing the course.  Prince On The Ter is trained at West Bagborough by Sue Popham, who bought the horse at Ascot Sales last summer and leases him to a group of friends headed by Weston & Banwell point-to-point secretary Jeff Fear and retired foreman Denis Nutteycombe.

The closing Open Maiden race was won by Took A Chance who forged well clear from three out to give 20-year-old rider Jo Buck her second career success. Took A Chance is trained at Shurton, near Stogursey by Sarah Robinson and was a first-ever winner for Puriton plumbing and heating engineer Rob Squire who bought the horse privately from Gerald Ham in 2001.