The biggest cheers at the Tredegar Farmers Hunt Point-To-Point Steeplechases at misty and drizzly Lower Machen were for dedicated hunt-racing enthusiast Charlotte Breese whose eight-year-old bay gelding CastleGrace ran out an easy winner ten lengths winner of the open maiden race. CastleGrace, who Charlotte bought at the Ascot Sales last year, was ridden by former national champion James
Tudor who was chalking-up his 250th winner between-the-flags (He's also ridden 34 winners under rules). James, who hails from the Vale of Glamorgan, needs 20 more wins to equal the Welsh record of 270 wins set by another rider from the Vale the legendary John Llewellyn who was a steward at the meeting. James said, "This was a steering job really and a lot of the credit must go to trainer Michelle Harris .'' Charlotte, who was congratulated by all and sundry who hugged and kissed her, was so excited that she couldn't remember the last time she had visited the winners' enclosure!
Another rider from the Vale of Glamorgan who had plenty to smile about was 26yo Byron Moorcroft from Cowbridge, who notched-up his first ever double when winning the confined race on 20-1 outsider Rainbow Haze and the young horse maiden on Moontripper both trained in the Vale by Kathryn Dando. The homebred Rainbow Haze, jointly owned by Michael Armitage and Kathryn's husband Phillip, handily placed throughout won by four lengths from Mr Sawyer (James Tudor) and his rider said, "He jumped really well.'' Moontripper, a six-year-old bay mare owned by Vale of Glamorgan estate agent Anthony Brown, and who has been described as "a bit of a handful'' held on by three parts of a length, after leading three fences from the finish, from the favourite Captain Camelot (Nick Williams).
Racing got under way with a three-horse members' race and the favourite Ski Sunday, who is blind in one eye, finished alone after outsider of three Qulittime unseated her rider, Ms George, who was having her first ride in a point-to-point, at the third fence and then James Tudor departing from Heavenstown at the 11th fence. Ski Sunday was ridden by 22-year-old Darrach Skelly from Limerick in Ireland who rides out for Vale of Glamorgan National Hunt trainer and former national champion point-to-point rider Evan Williams.
The Subaru Restricted Open race went to the Croome & West Warwicks invader Annamult, the 7-4 favourite, which made nearly all the running to win by two lengths from Andrew Leyshon's Distant Sound
(Evan David) which had made a bold effort three fences from the finish. Annamult, owned by Alan Phillips, was partnered by 26yo Aly Stirling from Cirencester. Zara Phillips saw her Frankenstorm (Tom David), who showed some early pace, finish last of the five runners.
Only three horses faced the starter for the men's open race and although the favourite Divine Intavention made every post a winning one under Mark Wall, Patricktomboru and Evan David tried hard to narrow the gap on the second circuit and despite making a mistake at the penultimate fence was only beaten by a short head. "He always gives his best'' said Mark on dismounting from the 11-year-old bay gelding which is owned by Henry Wilson and trained by Francesa Moller and qualified with the Heythrop Hunt. As for the unlucky Patricktom Boru, he will be going into training with Evan Williams to race under rules.
Keith Pritchard's Watch The Birdie, who had chipped a bone in her near hind leg which had got into a ligament last October, was back to her brilliant best when winning the ladies' open race by a length from
the favourite Cygnet who had been held up by Jodie Hughes. Watch The Birdie, who also won the best turned out award, was ridden by Hannah Lewis who said, "She's very excitable but she was a different
horse today and that was fantastic.'' Wales's most loved point-to-pointer Chesnut Annie, who had recently won her 40th race, trailed home in 5th place. Watch The Birdie was the second leg of a double for Bridgend's Gareth Moore who had also saddled Ski Sunday winner of the members' race.