Tanner Moment of the Month for March goes to
Wessex Area Point to Point award their “Moment of the Month” for March 2019 to Paul Govier for his heroic win on his own Redmond Hall at the Quantock Staghounds point to point at Cothelstone on Saturday 16th March. The award is kindly sponsored by Tanners Wines of Shrewsbury and a bottle of their champagne was presented to Paul.
There is a saying that Life begins at Forty but for some of us thoughts turn to Bucket Lists – and the nagging internal voice whispering “I must do….” before it’s too late! For racehorse owner Paul Govier his own internal voice suggested that time was running out to indulge his long held wish to race ride. Announcing his intention at his 40th birthday friends rallied round to offer advice and horror in varying amounts.
Paul, who runs PFG Fabrication with twin brother Peter, has owned horses for nearly 20 years and has experienced some memorable visits to the winner’s enclosure notably with the wonderfully versatile Lil Rockerfeller who has given connections some incredible days out with victories at Cheltenham and a narrow miss in the Stayers Hurdle there. His 15 length victory on the Flat at Glorious Goodwood last summer was one of the standout performances at the meeting. Shared in the “Davies, Smith, Govier & Brown Partnership”, they also have Group 3 winner Danehill Kodiac with Richard Hannon Jnr, who Paul hopes may be sent Down Under to the Melbourne Cup. Paul was also involved in “Cash for Honours” who owned the classy Jeremy Scott trained hurdler Melodic Rendezvous, an 8 time winner for them.
Despite having owned over 30 horses in training and being reared on a diet of galloping across Exmoor following the Devon & Somerset Staghounds, Paul’s experience of riding out racehorses was severely limited. A plan was hatched and with the help of the entire Scott family and jockey Matt Griffiths, the mission was to turn the 13st Paul into a rider fit and competent enough to grace a point to point race in little over eight weeks. A suitable horse needed selecting with the nod given to Redmond Hall (“Rupert” to his friends) who was owned by Paul and trained by Jeremy’s wife Camilla who has the yard’s point to pointers in her care.
Redmond Hall, a 7 year old gelding by Milan, was purchased by the Govier and Brown Partnership from Charlie Poste and Francesca Nimmo after finishing second 3 times in 4 starts. He then ran a further 3 times last season for Camilla each time declining to justify his odds as favourite and politely allowing another horse to finish in front of him. Of his 7 races to date, he had been 2nd 6 times, 5 of which he had the able assistance of former Champion Jockey Will Biddick. And at this stage there was no reason to suggest that Paul was going to be the key ingredient to success. But Camilla thought he’d be a safe enough conveyance and he was selected with the target race being the Hunt Members at the Quantock Point to Point the day after the Cheltenham Festival.
With the horse picked, there was now the task of getting the rider into shape and weight shifting was certainly an issue. Paul’s daily life involves some long hours and into this he incorporated a fitness and weight-loss programme as well as weekends schooling over fences with Matt Griffiths and Fiona Rawle before riding out 4 lots for Jeremy. Even a work visit to the Tizzard yard to install some new buildings resulted in a schooling session that day when Colin’s son and Assistant, Joe suggested he helped them out a bit by popping some horses over fences in their arena
Set at the base of the Quantock Hills, Cothelstone racecourse is one of the more popular courses. The meeting had been called off due to waterlogging last year and gale force winds did their best to scupper Paul’s plans this time round. Fortunately quick thinking organisers took the decision to replace all tentage with lorries and trailers and with a hugely vocal entourage and support team in tow, Paul stood in the paddock proudly wearing his own colours about to realise a dream. For Paul’s girlfriend Clare Wyatt who rides out for David Pipe, the emotional effort was too much and Johnson White, (Assistant to Philip Hobbs) gently escorted her away. Paul and “Rupert” had made it safely to the start and for them the days of schooling, training, dieting and sweating off the final pounds were about to be tested.
A huge cheer from Team Govier erupted as the tapes flew back and they approached the first. Rupert at this point realised his partner wasn’t former Champion Will Biddick and sensibly decided he needed to step up and take control. Settling in rear with the cheers getting louder after every cleared obstacle, the intrepid duo negotiated the first circuit and went out onto the second. Running down the back straight and passing Natalie Parker on a labouring Kinari, Paul gave Rupert a tap down the shoulder. Rupert responded. He flew the Open Ditch. Nick Child who was commentating spotted the move and remarked “there’s a chance that Redmond Hall might actually catch the leaders!” Another tap on the shoulder. Another positive response. It dawned on Paul that he actually stood a chance of winning. It also dawned on him that he hadn’t practiced riding a finish. Catching the leader, Mujadel, he landed over the last a length clear and despite the runner-up threatening all the way to the line, the maroon and beige colours were half a length to the good.
The crowd erupted. Supporters rushed across the course to the winner’s enclosure to bask in a truly incredible triumph. A first ride in which the dream became a fairytale. Clare led an elated Paul back into the paddock on board a rather pleased Rupert. She was still crying. But this time the tears were happy ones.