by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The Blackmore & Sparkford Vale point-to-point took place at Charlton Horethorne on the Dorset/Somerset border on Saturday. There were first-ever wins for rider Rosie Booth and trainers Aaron Bateman and Jessica Miller, while Rilly Goschen retained the Jane Dufosee Trophy for the day’s leading rider presented by the late Jane’s seven-year-old grandson, Henry.

Beadnell Bay made most of the running to repeat last year’s success in the opening Hunt Members race under Rilly Goschen. The horse was a wedding present from breeder John Dufosee to son Sean and daughter-in-law Allison and is named after the Northumberland fishing village where Allison was brought up. Beadnell Bay appeared to relish the good to firm going and could be one to follow throughout the rest of the season.

The Ladies’ Open went to Atavistic, who overtook longtime leader Frank Byrne entering the straight for a comfortable win. Atavistic was a first ride for Rosie Booth, 20, who works at Philip Hobbs’ Bilbrook stables and was given the horse by previous owners Peter and Gill Emery from Sidmouth, and Tony Staple from Over Stowey. This was a first-ever runner for Dunster trainer Aaron Bateman, 26, who won two point-to-points on Ross Cottage and rode 19 winners under Rules as a Conditional Rider. Atavistic jumped beautifully for Rosie and looks the sort to run up a sequence of wins.

Ashbury Star and Richard Woollacott got the better of a sustained duel with Badger Beer and Nick Mitchell to take the Men’s Open. Ashbury Star is trained at West Buckland by Mel Dixon and was a first winner for Hemyock builder Peter Gooder who bought the horse at Ascot Sales last June. Peter was keen to credit Mel for all her hard work teaching the horse to settle, while connections also mentioned Dominic Alers-Hankey whose recent shoulder injury prevented him from taking the ride.

The Open Maiden race was won by Fourspice Allspice and Rachael Green, who were left well clear when the challenging Lady Widd fell at the last. This was a first winner for Fifehead St Quinton trainer Jessica Miller who owns the horse jointly with husband Jasper and mother-in-law Jill, whose familiar Miss O’Grady colours were carried to victory here.

The Restricted race resulted in a win for Drumhorc who forged clear of favourite Hawkers Hill after the second last. Drumhorc is owned and trained by rider Lucy Gardner, who bought the horse at Doncaster Sales in May 2003.
There was another close finish to the closing Confined Maiden race, when Sparkling Missile and Sarah Robinson headed King Of Swing and Fiona Vigar on the run-in. Sparkling Missile, who may be aimed at the Quantock Staghounds Hunt race on Saturday, runs in the colours of the Dhobiwallah partnership, a syndicate of laundry and dry cleaning businessmen headed by Taunton’s Nicholas James, whose father bred the horse.