WEST SOMERSET VALE
SUNDAY 14 APRIL 2002
by Brian & Gill Armstrong
The West Somerset Vale Hunt held its annual point to point
meeting at Cothelstone, near Taunton, on Sunday. Highlights included
doubles for West Bagborough owner-trainer Sue Popham and for Exford rider
Merv Woodward, while there was a first-ever win for 28-year-old Bampton
rider Lynn Guilfoyle. Before racing, Hunt chairman Robert Pocock made a
presentation to former Point-to-Point Secretary, Margaret Brake, in
recognition of her 10 years' service and to Terry Chidgey, who has
contributed to the West Somerset point-to-point for over 50 years.
The opening Hunt race went to Suba Lin who asserted from four
out to provide Brent Knoll rider David Luff with his first winner of the
season. Suba Lin, winner of the corresponding race in 2000, is owned and
trained by breeder Carol Atyeo at Moorland, near Bridgwater. David, who
had a spell Arab racing a few years ago, reported that his fine horse
Brent Mystery, now 26, is still at home "running round the paddock
like a two-year-old".
Sue Popham's double was initiated when Porlock Hill led two
out to take the Restricted race under Merv Woodward. Sue was at Chepstow
when Porlock Hill won here on Easter Monday, but was present with husband
Chris to witness the horse's success on Sunday.
Emma Tory rode her fifth winner in what is already her best
season when her Spring Marathon was left well clear at the 14th to take
the Mixed Open. Spring Marathon, benefiting from the application of a
visor, raced with great enthusiasm and relished the fast ground. Emma, who
will spend five months in Cape Town with her aunt this summer, was keen to
credit her mother Mary for the many hours spent hunting and walking Spring
Marathon to maintain his interest and enthusiasm.
Merv Woodward completed his double when Zatopek made up a lot
of ground to take the Novice Riders' Intermediate race. Zatopek was bought
at Malvern two years ago by Simonsbath trainer Lucinda Roberts for a six
strong Exford syndicate who meet regularly at their local Crown Inn to
discuss plans for the horse.
Favourite backers soon knew their fate in the Dodson &
Horrell PPORA Club Members' race when Rescator went through the wing of
the 3rd fence, leaving rider Ashley Farrant stiff and sore in his left
shoulder. The race went to the Polly Curling-trained Hylters Chance who
made most of the running under Colin Heard and fought back when overtaken
by Western Fort four out. Hylters Chance is owned by North Curry farmer
John Hebditch, Jilly Cook of Wiveliscombe, Devon & Somerset Staghounds
MFH Maurice Scott and Minehead vet Phil Browne.
Sue Popham completed her double when Mac Five took Division One of the Open Maiden under Dominic Alers-Hankey. Mac Five, bought at Doncaster in May 2000 from Shane Donohoe, was backward under Rules last season but could return to that sphere for 2002/03. In Division Two Uncle James, a full brother to Cheltenham Festival winner My Young Man, came from well off the pace to give 28-year-old owner-rider Lynn Guilfoyle her first ever winner. Lynn, who rides out regularly for winning trainer Tessa White, is Restaurant manager at the Exeter Inn in Bampton, run by her mother Ann and by John Harvey, father of point-to-point rider Dominic and Racing Channel presenter Luke.