The penultimate Point-to-Point meeting of the current season took place at Bratton Down last weekend, where the Tiverton Staghounds hosted their day. Blustery conditions greeted race goers arriving at the course, but with plenty of hot food and refreshment they were able to enjoy the fast and furious action unfolding before them.
The outside raiders were plentiful, with many making the long trip to the course to gain championship title points. Lough Inch had a four hour journey from Melton Mowbray to the course, and didn't dissapoint his owner Lizzie Harris and her partner/trainer Tommy Morgan when coming home the half length winner of the Greenslade Taylor Hunt-sponsored Ladies Open race under jockey Tabitha Worsley. It was a competitive race with twelve runners, but it was Lough Inch's day and has now scored an impressive eight wins this season, and is leading National Point-to-Pointer this season. "He dug deep again, we may enter him for next weekend, but he will only run if needed." explained the jubilant owner. The Sam Holdsworth-trained Skylander under young jockey Thomasina Eyston was the closest purseur and managed to get within half a length of the winner at the finish.
Local area trainers also enjoyed saddling some winners on the day with the Keith Cumings-trained Whenharrymetsally taking the opening Winston Pincombe-sponsored Members race. There was drama before the start when entry Le Clo De La Londe ditched his jockey Emma Watson, leaving Whenharrymetsally under Matt Hampton and favorite Top Chief under Chris Barber playing a tactical game. Whenharrymetsally stayed on the better of the two up the final hill, winning by 16 lengths. Le Clo De La Londe was reunited with his jockey soon after the start, and did complete in third to gain some valuable novice rider championship points. Whenharrymetsally's owner Hannah Broggio stated "We bought her aproximately five years ago out of Ireland. She is a lovely mare and never lets us down giving 100%. Her stamina keeps her going."
The Overflow was a 50-1 winner on the day in the first division of the Open Maiden race for trainer Pippa Moorhouse. The favorite Quick N'Easy had been reluctant at the start and was left some 40 lengths to make up. There had been a steady pace, and Quick N' Easy's jockey Rob Stoneman was able to make up some eye catching ground gradually picking off the ten strong field, but was unable to reel in the eventual winner The Overflow who had stayed on well under jockey Jake Bament. Cornish owner Paul Tyler was unable to make the meeting " I phoned him and he couldn't believe it," beamed Pippa. The first division of the Open Maiden was sponsored by Stags.
The second division of the Open Maiden which was sponsored by John Reed, went the way of Tree Sparrow for trainer Camilla Scott. Tree Sparrow had been kept handy, sharing the lead with the leaders throughout the race by jockey Vicky Wade, taking up the running three fences from home to come home the eight length winner. The jockey commented "He is a gutsy horse. Tree Sparrow is his owner, Johny Pengelly's, first horse and he always wanted a runner at Bratton Down, let alone a winner."
Bridgnorth trainer Philip Rowley enjoyed saddling a double on the day, the first coming in the Saul Kidston Exmoor Hay & Straw-sponsored Intermediate race with Namako, who was sent of the even money favorite under jockey Alex Edwards. It was close at the end with Namako, Winter Garden and Air Glider all heading up the final hill together for a thrilling finish. It was the 27-year old jockey Alex Edwards, who works full time at the Rowley yard, who managed to squeeze a final effort out of his mount with Namako scoring a half length win, with Winter Garden staying on finishing a half length second. "We had a three and three quarter hour drive, but it was worth it, he became the best novice horse in the Midlands last weekend," explained his owner Cynthia Bibbey.
The Rowley team's double came when Temple Grandin won the Volvo-sponsored Men's Open race, under 27-year old jockey Alex Edwards. The odds on favorite didn't dissapoint his followers and ended the season on an impressive five wins. The race went his way when fending off his closest challenger There's No Panic over the final two fences, going on to win by two and a half lengths. "We haven't been here for a few years, it was a bit of a learning curve with the course, it's a stiff course, but both horses ran well," the young jockey commented.
It was the turn of another local trainer Nicky Martin, to saddle the winner of the final race of the day, which was the Best Western Tiverton Hotel-sponsored Restricted race with The Lizard King. The win also sealed the Area Gentleman's jockey title, with Darren Edwards now the clear leader, and with only one meeting to go and jockey Will Biddick unable to attend due to wedding ushering comittments, it leaves Darren Edwards to be crowned champion again. The win didn't come easy with 15 horses declared, but snatching the lead over the final fence and fighting off a challenge up the hill from Guerrila Tactics, Edwards was able to kick on The Lizard King to a half length victory.
The season closes with the Torrington Farmers meeting at Umberleigh next Saturday June 17th. The end of season Dinner and Dance takes place at The New Crown Plaza, Plymouth on Saturday 1st July. Tickets available from Kate Squire 01805 603129.