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Teme Valley & United Pack at Brampton Bryan
Sunday 10th April 2016
by Stella Havard

The decision for the Teme Valley Hunt and United Pack to pool their resources and run one Point-to-Point between them this season certainly reaped dividends, with plenty of entries, runners, and a huge crowd to watch them, and both committees should be congratulated.

The two Pony Races that preceded the action, the first ever run at Brampton Bryan, proved to be a great hit with spectators, who were happy to cheer them home. This was a real feather in the cap for Pauline Duggan, who organises the Area pony racing, and also was the fixture's entries secretary.

Clerk of the course, Wayne Tuffin and team are renowned for producing the best possible going on the riverside venue, and the 'good, good to soft in places' was proper 'jumping ground'.

The Confined race set the tone of the day, with Hazel Hill (Jane Williams) battling determinedly with Irish Anthem (Paddy Gerety) from the second last, with Spit (Lucy Turner) and Oscar Delta (James Nixon) trying to get on terms. But under a masterful ride, Hazel Hill kept his unbeaten record this season by three quarters of a length.

The Crow stable representative Againn Dul Aghadh was a warm favourite for the Restricted race, but it was the flashy chestnut, Tim's Crusader, and Jeremy Mahot who judged the race perfectly to challenge the front-running Avidius Cassius (Hannah Watson) at the last, and prevailed by a length. Part-owned by Jeremy's partner, Sarah-Jayne Davies, and her good friends, the Smiths, Tim's Crusader received a joyful reception.

The Mens Open was run over two-and-a-half miles, and it looked as though Welsh raider, Repeat Business (Richard Patrick) was going to justify favouritism, until joined by Cold Knight at the last fence. Cold Knight, from the in-form Martin Weston stable, held on by half a length.

The Weston stable notched a quick double when Arthurs Secret and Abi Banks jumped to the front early in the 11-runner PPORA Club Members race for Novice Riders, and made all. There was a spirited duel between the dogged Upton Centurion (James Jeavons) and the late-finishing Heavenstown (Richard Patrick) for second place, with Upton Centurion as honest as always sticking his head out at the line to be 'bridesmaid' for the third time this season.

The French-bred six year old, Arthur's Secret, who was still full of running at the end, is owned by Christine Banks, and looks likely to run up a sequence of victories.

Awesome George (Lara Mahon) made it three for the Weston stable when cruising home in the Ladies Open, but again it was a pitched battle for the runner-up spot, with Petite Lord (Lucy Turner) fighting back after being just headed at the last by Well Mett ('Phine Banks).

Sixteen runners went to post for the Open Maiden race, but coming to the second fence, Cloone Springs (Callum Bickers-Price) was squeezed for room, and crashed through the outside wing, completely demolishing it. While the medic attended the shocked rider, Wayne Tuffin assessed the situation in seconds – regulations state that a damaged fence (including a wing) cannot be jumped, but it would have been impossible to clear the debris and remove the damaged wing safely before the runners came round for the second circuit. In an impressively slick operation, yellow flags were raised all around the course, and the race was stopped. The stewards declared the race void, and all bets were returned.

Three buckets of shattered plastic were collected from the turf, and the offending wing removed for the final race, so that the fence could be by-passed for the Jockey Club Mares & Fillies Only Maiden.

Queen's Law (Rob Jarrett), trained by Sam Allwood, was left to fight it out with Robert Luke's Midnight Bliss (Richard Patrick) when Phillip Rowley's promising debutante, Passionella (Alex Edwards) fell two out. Queen's Law stayed on well when Midnight Bliss' stamina ran out by-passing the last fence, and was 12 lengths clear at the line. The third horse, Bettalatethanneva (Hugh Nugent) was the only other finisher of the ten.

The last race was followed by a 14-runner Hunt Scurry, hugely enjoyed by the crowd as they galloped over a circuit of the course, and was won by Lucy Hammond, daughter of trainers, Mickey and Zoe Hammond, riding Milled. First non-Thoroughbred home was Finbar, with a delighted Mary Beaman.

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