NINE races, a hot ladies’ race and a 17 runner mens’ open at Black Forest Lodge on Sunday was the perfect start to the 2009 point-to-point season in the Devon and Cornwall area.
Jenny Carr, who scored a win over hurdles for her boss Jonjo O’Neill before Christmas, has a burgeoning reputation which hadn’t gone unnoticed by Myfanwy and Paul Miles who gave her the leg up on their brilliant mare Lady Myfanwy in the fiercely competitive ladies’ open.
Approaching the last Carr had the eight-year-old in front and they stayed on up the run-in for a length and a half success with a short head splitting Croix De Guerre and Dr Cerullo in second and third. “She’s a fantastic horse, a brilliant jumper and she gave me such feeling,” said Carr following the success.
Rachel King, 18, is another young amateur making a name for herself. King, who has ridden under Rules for her boss Alan King, scored the third success of her career when Lady De Paris won the second division of the novice riders’ race for restricted horses. It was a tight finish with the mare getting up to score by a neck from Uncle Dan with Dan Ryan back in third. Plenty of help from top jockey Robert Thornton has encouraged Rachel who was riding the horse for her father Chris.
The first division went to Giles Hawkins riding Jafaro Des Bois. They took up the running down the final hill and scored a four length success. “This horse has been knocking on the door for a win. Giles came and schooled him on Friday so it’s all worked out well,” said his owner Patrick Picton-Warlow who trains near Wheddon Cross on Exmoor.
Ace trainer Tim Vaughan saddled Dancer Life for his wife Abbi, who looks after the pointers, to win the men’s open. The ten-year-old, running in the colours of Terry Refell and ridden by Dean Coleman, will possibly run in one more point-to-point before running in a hunter chase. “He was fairly highly handicapped under Rules. Now he’s got his head in front hopefully we will be away again,” said Vaughan.
Zaffarani’s Star was the fastest of the four maiden winners and also a first success for 17-year-old Johnny England who had his inaugural ride the day before at Barbury Castle.
From racing stock, Johnny is the brother of professional David England and works for Sean Lycett. The win was also a first for Michael Gates who has enjoyed great success over the years as an owner but is now training himself. Gates and his team faced a long journey back to Stratford-Upon-Avon in a borrowed trailer after the wheel dropped off their own on the way to the course.
Kitley Hassle, with Darren Edwards on board, was the 33-1 winner of the first maiden. The seven-year-old is trained by Nikki Frost whose husband Jimmy said: “He still has a lot of maturing to do but he jumps very well for a big horse. I could see him making up into a decent staying chaser.”
The second maiden went to race debutante The Jolly Miller. He was bought unnamed from Sarah West two years but then spent a season on the side lines after a piece of flint went through his tendon. “He’s quite nicely bred and on the dam’s side he’s related to The Listener,” said Anna Miller who husband Michael was on board.
Mark Jackson, 40, came out of retirement to ride Drom in the fourth maiden where a change of tactics and a different bit worked the oracle. Winning trainer Paul Davies, who is based in Herefordshire, explained: “He ran too free at Duntrhop so we held him up this time.”
Ryeman, under Danny Cook and running in Denis Williams well known red and white colours, was a first training success for Andy Jackson in the members’ race. Jackson has taken charge of the four pointers from his wife Oliva who is head girl for David Pipe. “He can buck. He put me into orbit yesterday,” he said.