APRIL 2004
by Brian & Gill Armstrong

A huge crowd enjoyed excellent racing at the Taunton Vale Hunt’s point-to-point meeting at Kingston St Mary on Easter Monday. There was a treble for trainer David Pipe and doubles for the Richard Barber/ Nick Williams combination, for Charlotte Stucley and for Ashley Farrant taking his seasonal tally to 30.

The opening Hunt race went to the Pipe-trained Burley Don Carlos who led throughout the final circuit for a comfortable win in the hands of Charlotte Stucley. Burley Don Carlos carried the blue and pink colours of delighted Oakford (near Bampton) breeder Caroline Llewellyn, who works for an opera company, describing opera as her second passion after point-to-pointing.

Ashley Farrant gave the Pipe-trained Think Commercial a fine ride to take the 56&7yo Open Maiden race. Ashley rode a patient race, taking up the running four out and holding the persistent challenge of Orinoco’s Flight. The prize was received by Harry Alford on behalf of owner David Johnson who bought Think Commercial in Ireland from Tom Costello in the summer of 2003.

The Confined Hunts race went to Lord Of The Mist, who was patiently ridden by Nick Williams before forging well clear for an impressive success. Lord Of The Mist, who is trained at Seaborough by Richard Barber for brother-in-law Peter Maltby, has now won three of his five 2004 outings and looks one to follow throughout the rest of the season.

The Men’s Open race was won by Ballysicyos and Ashley Farrant who made all the running to beat last year’s winner Hylters Chance with Ashbury Star in third. David Pipe, who trains the winner for mother Carol and Pam Deal, the joint owners, reported that Ballysicyos continues to gain confidence in his jumping. This was Ballysicyos’ third successive win and this fine horse is likely to be a cornerstone in Ashley’s pursuit of the 2004 Men’s National Rider’s Championship.

Charlotte Stucley completed her first-ever double when Gipsy Cricketer made all in the Ladies’ Open race. Gipsy Cricketer is trained at Ross-on-Wye by Marilyn Scudamore for 20-year-old son Michael, who plays professional Rugby Union for Ebbw Vale and won a Welsh U19 cap. Michael’s weight prevented him from following a riding career in the footsteps of grandfather Michael, father Peter and brother Tom, but he recently rode in a Ludlow Charity race, finishing fourth.

Richard Barber and Nick Williams completed their double when Noble Action just got the better of a sustained duel with Mister Swallow and Michael Miller. Noble Action, whose dam is a full sister to former top point-to-pointer Cherrynut, was bought at the May 2003 Doncaster Sales by Henley-on-Thames owner David Chown.

The closing Open Maiden race was won by Avec Plaisir who led throughout the final circuit to give 24-year-old rider Anna Clifford her third career success. This was a real family occasion as Avec Plaisir is trained at Frampton-on-Severn by Anna’s younger sister Sarah and is owned by father Rollo who bought the horse privately last year from Tom George.