by Brian & Gill Marshall

The Quantock Staghounds held their annual Point-to-Point at Cothelstone near Taunton on Saturday and a fine afternoon of racing was enjoyed by the good crowd who attended this popular course. The highlights of the day were a riding double for Alex Charles-Jones and first training successes for Sally Godfrey and Elsie Mitchell.

The meeting began with a minuteís silence in memory of Chris White, who sadly died just over a week ago. Chris was a popular figure at point-to-points throughout the Wessex area and will be greatly missed. Son William decided not to ride in the opening Hunt race; instead Jamie Snowden steered Peter and Sheena Doggrellís Caundle Chase to a facile victory. Peter was present on crutches, having suffered a fall from the same horse whilst out hunting two months ago, to welcome him into the winnersí enclosure.

Alex Charles-Jones scored the first of his two winners aboard Virgos Bambino in the two and a half mile Maiden race. The mare, who is owned by Maureen Nicholls, is trained by her daughter Verity between Tavistock and Plymouth. Verity reported that she has had the mare in her stable for about 18 months, having bought her from a local farmer who had let her live out on the Moors for a year.

The Ladiesí Race saw a change of fortune for trainer Alan Tizzard and his daughter Charlotte. They have lost three horses this season, but Sir DíOrton, an ex-inmate of Paul Nicholls stable, kept on stoutly to defy Frank Byrne, ridden by Rachael Green, in a race that saw the departure of joint favourite Ballysicyos, ridden by Olivia Jackson, at the first fence.

Olivia, representing owner David Pipe who was saddling three winners at Wadebridge, was able to enjoy seeing the stableís other runner Kingsbridge defy his six rivals in the Menís Open Race under a good ride from Tim Eades. The horse, who was recording his fourth victory at Cothelstone, was able to hold off the challenge from Gladiatorial ridden by Tom Bishop by two lengths.

Polar Flight, ridden by Alex Charles-Jones, won the Confined Huntsí Race to give Rose Vickery her first training success of the season. The horse, who is now owned by a syndicate, has clearly overcome the problems he met after being pulled up at Larkhill last season and, provided the ground stays on the easier side, should be followed in future point-to-points this season.

Ellofamonkey, ridden by Richard Woollacott, was the easiest winner of the day when winning the Restricted race by 15 lengths. The mare, who is owned and trained by Mel Dixon, was bought at the Ascot Sales last year as a prospective hunter. However she is clearly a useful racing mare based on the evidence of this victory and more successes could easily follow as she is raised in class.

Romany Move gave Sally Godfrey (nee Cobden) her first ever training success in the first division of the Open Maiden race. Sally trains the horse for her mother Sarah and sister Jane Reed just outside Crewkerne. The horse was bought at Ascot last year having previously been trained and placed several times in the Durham area. He was perhaps a fortunate winner as Rocastle Lad had taken up a lead until falling fatally at the last fence.

The final race, the second division of the Open Maiden, was won by Panhandle ridden by Robert Stephens, who is based with Phillip Hobbs as his amateur rider. The Richard and Elsie Mitchell-bred mare gave Elsie her first training victory. Son Nick would have ridden her, but after a heavy fall at Wincanton two days earlier, decided to rest before his planned ride on Red Brook Lad in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham on Thursday 18th.