When the Weston & Banwell point to point meeting received 120 entries it was indicative of the popularity of the course at a time when many are crying pointing is finished. Of those entries 48 ran – a healthy amount for May and it produced some excellent racing. The Will Biddick juggernaut continued with a determined treble to lengthen the gap in the Jockey's Title race. And some quality horses seen out this season returned to form to remind racegoers there was no doubting their ability.
Trainer Charlotte Budd would never necessarily consider her Maiden winner Taken By Force to be "quality" but his jumping would certainly qualify. Completing the third of Will's winners his task was admittedly made easier when two of his market rivals, Gotaloton and Winged Warrior went at the first fence along with Scary Stuff while Thelastwon was carried out one of the loose horses. Despite the demise of half the field, Taken By Force quickly went clear rounding the last bend to win by 20 lengths. A delighted Charlotte had bought the diminutive gelding from Ascot Sales for the paltry sum of £1,000 and secured the services of Will after a conversation with fellow trainer, Teresa Clark at a local party. Will confirmed what a professional ride the horse had given him and remarked how well he jumped considering his size.
The first of Will's winners had been in the shorter Maiden on Eole d'Un Regard for trainer Deborah Treneer. Deborah had sent the 5 year old Great Pretender gelding to Will for a few weeks as he had proved difficult to settle in his previous races. Making the running and keen for much of the race, Will managed to keep enough under the bonnet to record a facile win after nearest rival Witchdoctor unseated 2 fences out. Eole d'Un Regard had been bought in France by Tracy Brown for Deborah having been placed over there.
The Restricted Race went to the Ed Walker trained Journey Juice and Will Biddick much to the relief of his connections, The Otter Club. Given a lovely ride, he was switched off at the rear for most of the race and when favourite Arcal Fifty made a mistake at the last it allowed him enough of a margin to hold off a determined runner-up by a head in a thrilling finish. Journey Juice had run well when second at Cotley and is clearly happier not being pressured early on.
The meeting had opened with a Confined Race which went to the classy mare Country Legend for the Bishop family who looks likely to win both Novice horse awards for the Wessex Area to add to the silverware she has already won. A three-time winner already this season at Larkhill, Badbury Rings and Milborne St Andrew, she had disappointed last time at Larkhill. Trainer Frances Bishop explained "her hip had dropped after Larkhill and she just wasn't right so Becky Davies who is a McTimoney practitioner has worked on her and she is so much better." She also added that the jockey "is finally learning how to ride her!" – the jockey being son Tom who works in London and returns to ride the mare in her races.
Bloodstock Agent Tom Malone is clearly enjoying his side hobby of training thanks to the exploits of The Last But One who took the Conditions Race under Nathan Vergne by a very comfortable 25 lengths. The jockey too was beaming as he returned to the winner's enclosure and confirmed how much Cothelstone meant to him as he had ridden his very first winner here only a year ago. Recording his sixth win of the season with the horse, Tom was undecided as to whether he would run his horse again but as he was leader for the PPORA Novice Horse Award much depended on how his closest rival, Streets of London got on at the weekend.
The Ladies Open again showed what an emerging talent Millie Wonnacott is amongst the lady riders as she completed a hat-trick on Purple 'n Gold narrowly denying the equally talented Lucy Mager on Moscow Prices in a thrilling finish. Purple 'n Gold is an "All girl affair" being owned by the "Here Come the Girls" partnership and trained by Lisa Jefford and they confirmed that they would again be celebrating with plenty of pink champagne!
The Men's Open was run at a much faster pace and was some 10 seconds faster than the Ladies after two regular front runners were determined to lead. Eventually course specialist Uppertown Hawk got his customary role under regular jockey Sam Jukes and tried to run the finish out of the odds-on Jack Snipe. Trained by Rob Hawker, Jack Snipe however had only blotted his copybook once this season when finding 4 miles at Cheltenham last time a step too far and Shane Quinlan was always confident he would regain his winning thread. The runner-up was game under the circumstances and would be of interest if he returns for the final meeting here.
Pony Racing preceded the pointing and saw the Wessex Area Finals with the 138cm race going to Freddie Gingell on The Jobs Not Straight from Taylor Fisher on Maesteg Ruth while Taylor made amends in the 148cm winning on Our Jeremy from Artemis Morgan on Tarka.