Hon Secretaries: Mrs Tully and Mrs S Baker
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The annual Quantock Point to Point run at Cothelstone was one of the last meetings to be held before Covid forced the season to be cut short this time last year. Normally held in mid-March, the fixture has moved to this Sunday and has attracted a good entry of 137. Due to Covid restrictions, the meeting will be run behind closed doors following BHA and Government guidelines and no public will be admitted. However there will be a live streaming service available which can be found using http://bit.ly/Cothelstone for a small charge of £9.99.
The first race is the Hunt race and it has been extended to other local hunts including those not able to run their own meetings. With 9 entries former course winner Rien du Tout may turn out again after being pulled up last week at Cherrybrook. Trained by Charlotte Budd, he signed off the shortened season winning at Larkhill and could be forgiven his run in a Hunter Chase at Wincanton on heavy ground. Charlotte also has Taken by Force entered and he too is a course winner who could prefer the quicker ground here. Peter Doggrell’s Earth Storm is also a course winner, having taken this race last season at 33-1. Florrie Webb is an interesting entry from Ireland for Will Biddick. Placed twice under Rules in Ireland, he could benefit from the switch to Pointing and could be a shrewd purchase. Mixboy has won 11 times under Rules and is best watched after running out at Cherrybrook
The Jockey Club Mares and Fillies race has attracted 25 entries. Of those Eastern Promises ran a nice race when finishing third at Barbury in December and should build on that. Thekitchenmechanic and Oyster Pearl finished second and third in this race last year and both have had a run this season in December with both showing up well for a long way in their respective races. Dean Summersby’s Honest Opinion ran well on debut at Wadebridge when 4th while Boss Baby finished a good second here last year in the Open Maiden but failed build on that this season pulling up last time in a Hunter Chase. Debutant, Lassue, is out of winning mare, Annie Fleetwood while Benny’s Miracle is a full-sister to the useful Tuff Nano. Madame Hannah may have bumped into a nice type when second on debut last season just in front of Aunt Lily and both go over obstacles for the first time here. Ben Clarke’s Lettie Lutz was only just beaten on debut at Chaddesley Corbett in a flat race and is of interest on her debut over jumps for this shrewd yard.
Open races at this course are often hotly contested and this year has attracted 25 entries. Virak heads the ratings and won three times last season. He will be hard to beat if coming here in that form. Trainer David Brace enjoys his jaunts across the Bristol Channel to plunder prizes at this track and has 9 time winner Robin des People who showed himself to be in good health when taking the Veterans’ Conditions race at Maisemore. A dual course winner, he could be in the mix. Ballyknock Cloud has an impressive 6 from 6 between the Flags but didn’t progress when sent under Rules. The admirable Moscow Prices always runs his race but may find a couple too good. Country Legend was a very good mare during her novice season and would appreciate the drier conditions. She ran well enough at Larkhill in December and could be an each way bet. Coco Live easily took a four runner Open at Charing at the end of March while Fifty Shades, a winner at Barbury may find this coming too quick after Higham.
The Restricted Race with 17 entries sees Famous Clermont entered for trainer Chris Barber. He won nicely at Larkhill in December under Will Biddick and was just touched off under Tiernan Power Roche at Kimble. If this race doesn’t come too soon, he could go in again. So Socksy won an Open Maiden comfortably in December at Barbury while O’Faolain’s Lad won his maiden at Larkhill last year before returning there only to fall early on on his seasonal debut. Mustmeetforapint was third at Wadebridge but may prefer a softer surface.
The Conditions Race has 27 entries and has several who are also entered in the Mixed Open. Others include Tree Sparrow for Camilla Scott who only had one outing last season but would prefer this drier ground. Teresa Clark’s Pancrace missed last season but is another who should prefer the surface. A few of the entries are at the latter stages of their career and that includes Broughton’s Rhythm who was extremely consistent under Rules despite only winning twice but he did prefer a bit of cut when trained by Oliver Sherwood. Creative Inerta is another who is consistent and could run well. Alan Hill has Hawkhurst who took a similar event at Chaddesley Corbett in December before finishing a close third at Hutton Rudby.
The finale has the biggest entry with 37 in the Open Maiden. Of those with form Charles Ritz catches the eye judged on his debut second behind all the way winner, Tip Top Mountain at Wadebridge. Jasmin des Bordes also filled second spot behind the useful Maitree Express at Larkhill in December. Transition Period for the Dean Summersby yard, was in the process of closing on the leaders when he fell at the last on debut. He should improve.
Organisers would like to thank sponsors Eastleigh Care Home, Roberts Waste, Evolution Equine, Holiday Resort Unity, Hawkins and Print Concern. And all entry money for the Restricted Race this year will be donated to NHS Charities.
The three month hiatus in Point to Pointing meant that a return to the popular course at Cothelstone for the Quantock meeting would inevitably be well supported and with 78 runners over the afternoon, that was certainly the case. A riding double for Cheltenham Festival winning trainer Will Biddick, a training double for Chris Barber, a stylish winner of the Mixed Open by 16 year old Daniel Ellis and an 11 year old horse finally breaking his maiden were the highlights of the day.
There has long been a close connection between Pony Racing and Pointing with many jockeys cutting their teeth in the former before going on to have careers both Pointing and under Rules. Owners Richard and Dawn Prince has been the most incredible supporters of Pony Racing for many years not only as an important sponsor but also providing ponies for children who otherwise would not get a chance to ride at that level. Their input cannot be appreciated enough and this was further seen when 16 year old Daniel Ellis took a competitive Mixed Open on Fifty Shades owned by them. Sponsored as usual by Evolution Equine, the race saw 14 runners with Ballyknock Cloud and Coco Live vying for favouritism. After early leader Ballyknock Cloud dropped back, it looked as though Coco Live would add to his Charing win with former decent novice, Country Legend also threatening. However Daniel kept his cool and forced Fifty Shades clear after the last to record a two length win. For Daniel this was a second win this season on only his fifth ride and he very much looks to be a jockey for the future. His mother Sarah, explained that Daniel is based with Christian Williams and the Princes had specifically bought Fifty Shades from Christian so that Daniel who won over 40 races while Pony Racing, could ride this season. She said “I am just eternally grateful to Richard and Dawn for giving Daniel this opportunity.” She also added that after winning at Barbury early in the season, they journeyed to Higham on a five hour trip only to lose the weight cloth mid-race and were disqualified from second. This was welcome compensation.
The Hunt Members race was generously opened to other hunts to compensate losing their meetings and 6 horses went to post. For co-owner Andy Pollard this race is the highlight of his Pointing year and he had won it four times previously with the very popular Little Cornham. On the horse’s retirement, Andy asked Will Biddick to find him a replacement. It proved a good move after Will purchased the 7 year old Florrie Webb from the all-conquering Henry de Bromhead yard in December. The gelding had been unlucky not to win when falling on debut in Ireland and since then had not enjoyed the heavier conditions. With Mixboy on better behaviour than last time, Will allowed the leader to go 20 lengths clear at one stage, settling in fourth on Florrie Webb. Joining Mixboy with three fences to go, he moved clear quickly to record a six length victory over Mixboy with Niteinshininarmour back in third. It was a nice UK debut and he should go onto better things.
Pointing in Ireland has been slower to resume than in the UK and it was this decision that prompted jockey Tiernan Power Roche to move a small string of horses over to base himself with trainer Chris Barber. A union that has already yielded three wins, the formerly unraced Kindofabigdeal made it four when taking the Mares Maiden from another promising debutant in Lassue. Chris explained that connections had paid 12,000 Euros for her at a store sale and although she was a bit weak last year, jumped really well and like the rest of the horses brought over, is for sale. Chris stressed it was very much a team effort between himself and the jockey and this partnership is really paying dividends.
The Restricted Race brought up a riding double for Will Biddick on the second of Chris Barber’s winners. Famous Clermont looks to have a big future and has been carefully handled by both jockey and trainer. He won nicely at Larkhill in December under a patient ride from Will and when pointing was suspended he moved to Kayley Woollacott to run under Rules. He was placed twice over hurdles but then returned to Chris who took him to Kimble where he was second. Running him back so quickly Chris explained “we just needed to take the gas out of him.” Jumping into the lead two fences from home, Will was at pains to contain him as he comprehensively outclassed his field. The plan is to put him away now until next season with the target being the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham.
The Conditions Race drew a field of 16 and Lucy Mager was winning for the eighth time on board Moscow Prices who she trains and part-owns with Kim Tripp. Now 11, they have had the Alflora gelding since he was a five year old and explained what a joy he was to have at home. Kim also felt that a small wind operation this year and a good run at Maisemore had put him spot on for today.
The Open Maiden was divided and the first race went to Clever des Assence under Natalie Parker in the faster of the two divisions beating the odds-on favourite Transition Period by a length and a half. The second division went to 11 year old The Mighty Ash ridden by George Hiscock. A relieved Tacky MacGregor who owns and trains the horse said “It just proves that there really is a race out there for every horse! We had him in training with Fiona Shaw previously but he hated running under Rules so we decided to try pointing and it’s paid off first attempt!” She went on to thank Fiona for all the help she had received from her as the horse can be a “bit of a monkey” at home!