On testing ground described as officially soft, and with two fences omitted on the course due to ground conditions, father and daughter Dai and Jessica Jones from Carmarthen, rode into the Welsh Point to Point record books on Saturday, when lining up in the opening race of the day the Carmarthenshire Hunt members race.
This being the first time in Wales a father and daughter had ridden in the same race. A winning end was not in store for either of them as Rhys Hughes aboard the odds on favourite Pelennor came home 20 lengths clear from Jessica on Pussigny with Dai a further ten lengths back in third on Last Symphony.
The ‘Men’s Open Race’ won by the Kristal Harries trained and John Mathias ridden Makena, recorded the fastest time of the day, the mare made light work of the conditions and her remaining rivals after long time leader, the 13- 8 favourite Overlut and Rhys Hughes ran out at the 4th fence, where she continued to race in isolation and coasted home a distance clear from Paul Tolman on Balearic Star.
Winning owner of the first race, Carl Pyne, was looking to follow up with his next runner, the Robert Scrine trained Brennanstown in the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate race, the betting public liked his chances also, and backed the gelding down to odds on favourite. Oca De Thaix, trained by Robert Luke, a winner over course and distance at the last meeting, was second choice at 5- 2 and came home the cosy winner under a patient ride form John Mathias, running on under pressure the gelding saved his best jump of the race for the last fence which enabled him to go alongside and pass Josh Harries and Crofton to win by 8 lengths with the North Shropshire visitor Banbury Babe back in third.
Of the five runners in the ‘Ladies Open Race’, only two completed, with the winner Warsaw Pact another for trainer Robert Scrine, making it 2 wins from 2 starts at Erw Lon. Jockey Chloe Roddick equipped with spurs, always had him handy but was left in the lead by the fall of Twilight Dancer and Fiona Williams-Jones, which resulted in a broken nose for Fiona and a long time on his own in front for Warsaw Pact. His concentration abandoned him at the last when making a bad mistake; he still had ten lengths to spare where it mattered at the line from Naughty By Nature and Lucy Jones.
Nine went to post for the ‘Restricted Open’ Race with another recent course winner Rith Bob being sent off the 4-5 favourite, the Dai Rees trained 7 year old provided John Mathias with his third winner of the day and the village of Clarbeston Road in Pembrokeshire with it’s third winner, previous winners Makena (Kristal Harries) and Oca De Thaix (Robert Luke) are also from there, the local air and water must be good for you.
Princess De Rome and Rhys Hughes had raced 8 lengths clear along the back straight when turning for home in the ‘Mares Maiden’ only for the ground to take it’s toll on the 6 year old homebred mare, the lead was rapidly diminishing approaching the last, but the line came just in time to hold off the fast finishing Bunny McDougall and Nathan Deakin by ¾ of a length. Owner Michael McMahon, a civil engineer form the West Midlands has owned several winners under rules but said “nothing comes close to the feeling of breeding a winner”, this being his first. Trainer Robert Scrine from Pyle in Bridgend, was on hand to welcome in his third winner of the meeting.
Ground conditions were getting more testing as the meeting went on and for the final race the ‘Horses and Geldings Maiden’ a further fence had to be omitted. Ruth Birt-Llewellin and Mr Who were popular winners after fighting out a close finish with Richard Wollocott on O’Rage. Trained by Ruth herself from her parent’s farm at Little Haven in Pembrokeshire the duo had previously been consistently placed in maidens without actually winning one, they can be seen most days working out on the beach at Broad Haven.
The second round of the West Wales Pony Racing series is held next at the Tivyside meeting on Saturday 13th March at 11am, with the Point-to-Point card underway at 12 noon. The Tivyside returns after missing last season to the course at Cilwendeg, which can be found on the B4332 Boncath to Cenarth road, SA37 0EW for the Sat Nav.