The stage was set with the sun shining down on the packed crowd of Point-to-Point horse racing enthusiasts attending the final meeting of the current season at Chapleton Barton, Umberleigh last Saturday. They were not to be dissapointed with plenty of runners turning up to compete in the six races on offer together with the addition of three pony races and crowning of the area champion jockeys at the end of the afternoon.
The opening Members Race had been sponsored by Westerly BMW, with seven horses lining up, headed in the betting by the Kayley Woollacott-trained Le Clo De La Londe under jockey Jamie Thomas. The field were tightly packed for the first two circuits with Kawana Cove and Knight Blaze sharing the lead, until running down the hill where they should have been heading off on their final circuit, however the leading jockey's looked to be riding a finish. After a few strides of confusion with some taking a pull of the reins, Pasternak Jack another from the Woollacott team under jockey Heidi Lewis took the initiative and stealing the lead kept Pasternak Jack up to his work and won the race by ten lengths to the staying on Lucys Girl finishing second and Knight Blaze back in third. Heidi had missed many meeting through fracturing her collar bone at Cothelestone in March, she was delighted with her win claiming " I only received the call from Kayley Woollacott yesterday, I have now won three races on him." Kayley added "He only goes well for novice jockeys, Richard had bred him and even he found him tricky. His owner Richard Westacott has stuck by Pasternak Jack so we have kept him in training."
The sun soon gave way to a deluge of rain, but this didn't put off the race followers who managed to find shelter before witnessing an impressive performance by Jenna Pride under jockey Alex Edwards in the Captain Tim Forster Memorial Restricted race. The Beneficial-sired seven year old Jenna Pride had been bought by Stratford-on-Avon based owner/trainers Martin and Jane Wanless only ten days before at Ascot sales. Jockey Alex Edwards had ridden a patient race taking up the running over the last going on to win by six lengths. "She jumped like a stag and was always travelling." stated the 26 year old jockey.
The Men's Open race followed in which neither of the area leading jockeys had a ride in. Darren Edwards had other commitments on the day, leaving National Champion Will Biddick holding onto the area title by a two point lead. Ravethebrave for the Alan Hill team ridden by son Joe were sent off the 7/4 favorites but had to settle for second being unable to fend off the challenge of the veteran 15 year old Presentandcorrect winning under jockey James King. It was a class performance by Presentandcorrect to follow up on his Bratton Down win the weekend before. Trainer Tim Sage together wife his wife Irene were full of praise for his jockey James King who has won on him six times. "I spotted James out hunting when he was 12 years old and I was impressed with him then." stated the trainer who added " We do all the work ourselves at home, we will go hunting again this winter and if we can keep him fit and he gets his preferred firm ground again next season we will bring him out again." stated Tim, Irene added " He has won us 13 races, we bought him from Carl Lewellyn about five years ago."
Bound For Glory under jockey Hannah Lewis pleased punters by snatching the Davisons sponsored Ladies Open race. The betting had been between Bound For Glory and Right Enough among the six runners. With the race competitive and Bound For Glory's jockey stealing the race by taking the inside line approaching the last ahead of a running on Florence Mary two lengths back in second and Right Enough having to settle for fourth behind outsider Sangfroid who stayed on to snatch third place. Trainer David Fitch-Payton took up his licence two years ago and is based near Tetbury. " After Bound For Glory unseated his jockey in a Hunter Chase at Aintree, I decided to lower our sights a bit, the ground has previously been too heavy." quoted the trainer. Jockey Hannah Lewis enjoyed her tenth winner of the season "We decided on a change of tactics as he normally front runs, the addition of blinkers worked and holding him up at the back, I thought I had gone too soon, although he had made a mistake at the ditch which probably helped as he then slowed down saving some for the finish."
The Barum Stud sponsored Intermediate race went to an owner/trainer £200 bargain purchase Mr Sawyer. The welsh grocery shop keeper Kristen Jacka rides out Mr Sawyer daily himself. "I bought him at Ascot sales as a two year old for £200, nobody wanted him. He loves top of the ground, he fell at the last at Chaddesley Corbett, he is sprint bred, I plan to Hunter Chase him next season." claimed Kristen. Jockey Bradley Gibbs had driven the odds on favorite Mr Sawyer to win the race with Nicholasville in second.
The final race of the season the Open Maiden race was well supported with twelve heading to post, this going the way of Buckfastleigh based trainer Nikki Frost's Buzz Barton to add to the double for the yard at Bratton last weekend. "We bought him out of Ireland last summer, he is a horse that lives on his nerves a bit and gets worried, our lass Phillipa Hyne rides him out daily." stated Nikki Buzz Barton is owned by husband Jim who added "We will take one step at a time, his jockey Josh Newman has just got the measure of him." Josh added "He was a little buzzy early on, but game at the end, he is a bit quirky but genuine and jumps well on the whole." Nikki and Jim Frost's daughter Bryony was enjoying a day off, she has recently taken on the job of pupil assistant trainer to Paul Nicholls, but intends to still ride Point-to-Point for her parents and the Jack Barber team next season.
Three pony races followed which were enjoyed by all back in glorious sunshine. The first 138cm race was won by Tyler Heard on The Jobs Not Straight, having looked to be almost left at the start and having to make up many lengths in impressive style to win . Fergus Gillard then enjoyed riding a double taking the second 138cm race on Veno Star and the 148cm race on Hawkesfield Flyer with Tyler Heard on Shotgun Minnie in second.
There ended another thrilling season with the winning area jockeys being crowned. Will Biddick taking the Men's Title, Jo Buck the Ladies, Novice Men's Darren Andrews, Novice Ladies Hannah Welch and best ride of the day going to jockey Alex Edwards on Jenna Pride. The jockeys then gave most of their awarded champagne to their hero's of the season the on course medical team, before spraying a few of the onlookers in the traditional way.
Whilst reflecting on this season which started with the added attraction of Olympic Gold Medal Cyclist Victoria Pendleton joining in on the action now planning to continue to ride Point-to-Point, then finishing with some young talented racing stars of the future to look forward to namely Tyler Heard and Fergus Gillard among many more pony racing jockey's who will be graduating in years to come.