The final Welsh Point to Point of the season took place at Trecoed last Saturday, and with jockeys and horses coming from far and wide it didn't disappoint.
It was a day to remember for local trainer Marc Barber who notched up a treble on the day, frist of which came in the Hunt Members. Ridden by his brother Mathew, Brideberry had an easy task when half of the field had parted way at the third fence. This left the pair, and stable mate Anto Massini, under Rob Hawker, left to complete, and the experienced Brideberry came home an official 12 lengths ahead, winning his second race of the season. Trainer Barber said, "He ran here last year and was a little bit weak. He's a soft bugger, and his last win gave him a lot of confidence. He'll be turned away for the summer now."
Winner number two for Barber came in the Mens Open when the mighty impressive Desertmore View romped home under John Mathias, making easy work of a couple of well-regarded horses in behind. Dual Hunter Chase winner Cygnet could only manage third under Peter Bryan, with Mumbles Pier and Richard Patrick finishing in second. Mathias boasted, "There's more to come. He's never gone as quickly as he can, and everything else has gone as quick as it could. On a racecourse, he's the best I've ever ridden." The seven year old will be staying in training with Barber, and after a summer break will go for one Point to Point next season, before being sent Hunter Chasing. "He doesn't show much at home. He saves it all for the track. I'm very lucky to have him," smiled Barber.
The third leg of the Barber treble came in the last race of the season, the Intermediate, where A County Mile made it a double on the day for the trainers brother Mathew. After disappointing last time out at Lydstep the seven year old benefited from the rain a couple of days before the meeting, "It was too quick for him last time out, he needs a cut in the ground. He's a big horse and needs time. We'll bring him in early next season so we can get his ground," said Barber.
The best ride of the day came from 19 year old Richard Patrick, where a patient ride on Redbridge Rebel in the Restricted paid off with the pair coming home four lengths in front of Captain Camelot and Nick Williams, who made most of the running. "This was his first time in a hood and it seems to have worked. He can be quite keen, and this relaxed him," explained trainer Mickey Bowen, who has been having an extremely successful season. Sir Du Bearn and Jodie Hughes gave Bowen a double on the day, coming home easy winners in the Ladies Open. This was the second success of the season for the pair, who last time out parted company in a Hunter Chase at Stratford. Sir Du Bearn's victory here made it winner number 13 of the season for young Mickey Bowen, and with a handful of entries for next week's season finale at Umberleigh, there could be more to come.
John Mathias also went home with a double, after Joshella won the Open Maiden, beating Article Clerk and Ballet Marbleless into second and third. The seven year old was bought privately from Ireland back in January by Mathias, and is now owned jointly by Malcolm Lewis, Dennis Reid, Lyn Davies, Mathias himself and his father Phil. "He works well but has been a bit disappointing. I've had to train him differently over the last three weeks, and he's been a lot better since", explained Mathias, who when asked what he had done differently, would only reveal that the beach had helped.
And with Nick Williams hanging up his boots, it was an end of an era for the Welsh Point to Point circuit. Williams had ridden over 150 winners through the flags, and is one of the most accomplished Welsh jockeys of his era. He began his racing career with Richard Barber, for whom he made a winning debut on Rimpton Boy at Larkhill in 2002, and he rode as a Conditional for a while for Evan Williams. He was one of the more experienced jockeys in the changing tent, and is sure to be missed by the youngsters coming through.
David Llewellyn's 12 year old Rosies Peacock remains the joint leader in the Leading Horse on seven wins, along with Cock of the Rock. They are both entered in the Mens Open at Umberleigh on Saturday, and so it could go down to the wire.