by Brian & Gill Armstrong

Spectators enjoyed an eventful afternoon’s racing at the West Somerset & Minehead Harriers point-to-point meeting at Holnicote on Saturday. There was a first point-to-point winner for 20-year-old Welsh rider Jodie Hughes, while Ashley Farrant took his season’s tally to nine with victory on Polar Champ in the Men’s Open.

The opening Hunt Members race went to Cool Wager, who forged 20 lengths clear of only other finisher Caundle Chase. Cool Wager is owned by farmer Robert Pudd and his wife Hilary “Tigger” Pudd, who trains the horse at their Pyleigh home. Tigger bred both Cool Wager and his dam, Gamblingway, who won a point-to-point at Flete Park in 1987 ridden by current leading National Hunt trainer, Venetia Williams. Cool Wager was partnered by Wheddon Cross rider Darren Edwards deputising for Dominic Alers-Hankey, who dislocated his collarbone at Milborne St Andrew the previous Sunday.

Alers-Hankey missed another winner when Inagh Road made all the running in Division One of the Confined Maiden under Alex Michael. This was a first point-to-point winner for North Newton trainer Fiona Walker, point-to-point secretary of the Taunton Vale Hunt, and for joint owners builder Ken Mantyk and plumber Andrew Goddard, both of North Petherton, and Fiona’s husband Scott, who bought the horse at Ascot Sales last year. Division Two went to 50/1 chance Rosetta and Lucy Gardner who headed Far Too Crowded after the last with favourite Toon Society in third. Rosetta was a first winner for Burnham-on-Sea owner-trainer Sarah Gordon who bought the horse privately from Richard House as a five-year-old.

The Ladies’ Open was won by Longstone Boy, who was prominent throughout and forged clear of Sir William after the challenging Rimpton Boy and Rachael Green crashed into the wing at the second last. This was a first point-to-point success for 20-year-old rider Jodie Hughes, who rides out at Peter Bowen’s Haverfordwest yard. Longstone Boy was bought as an unbroken five-year-old by Dorothy Harris and partner Eric Clough who trains the horse at their Ludchurch home near Tenby.

Ashley Farrant rode his ninth winner of the season when the David Pipe-trained Polar Champ made all the running to take the Men’s Open. Polar Champ carries the familiar “Bonanza Boy” colours of Simonsbath owner Angie Malde and may take his chance in the Christies Foxhunters Challenge Cup at Cheltenham next month.

The Novice Riders Intermediate race went to Opal’Lou who made all the running and comfortably held off favourite Polka. Opal’Lou is one of four point-to-pointers trained at Forde Abbey by Jane Western who bought the horse out of Paul Nicholls’ stables last year, and was a fourth career success for owner rider Richard Pyman, 35, a London merchant banker.

The closing Restricted race was won by Lord Of The Mist who was patiently ridden by Nick Williams before leading at the last. Lord Of The Mist, who is trained at Seaborough by Richard Barber for brother-in-law Peter Maltby, has plenty of pace and could be one to look out for if aimed at Ladies’ Opens.