The weather was kind to those that enjoyed a fantastic day’s racing and fun atmosphere at the 57th Old Berks Hunt’s Annual Point to Point and Country Day on Easter Monday.
The ground this year was excellent, given as good to soft. The superb condition of the course was a worthy result following the hard work from Clerk of the Course Geoff Bosley and his team, alongside support from Henrietta Knight.
The first race, The OKA Members’, Subscribers’ and Farmers’ Race, set the scene with a few early thrills as Mad nearly unseated her jockey Alistair Blacknell at the first. Run at a fast time (6 mins 26 seconds) Terramarique, trained by Marcus Foley with Camilla Henderson up, set off favourite and were prominent throughout with Craig Pilgrim’s Artic Fire, ridden by Richard Mason, gradually picking their way through the field to unite at the fourth last where both Terramarique and Artic Fire were neck and neck. The fast early pace just took its toll for Henderson who finished 3 lengths behind the winner Artic Fire with Frank Caudwell’s Baraka de Baune and Rachel King in third.
The second race, the John Manners Confined Hunts Race, stirred up fond memories as one of the best known characters of point to pointing and hunter chasing was sadly not in our midst this year. A good field set off at a steady pace, Noel Byrne on Ghonny Withthebowe (Best Turned Out winner) leading the way for the first circuit. Favourite Charm of Gold, owned by Mrs J.P. Fairbarns and ridden by Rachel King, started to stamp her authority on the second circuit delivering a show of spectacular jumping although not being let out of sight by Ghonny Withthebowe and Mrs Manners’ Trizzy, ridden by Lucy Barry, who put up a brave fight in the closing stages. It was a third successive win for the Charm of Gold team, with Trizzy second and Carthy’s Cross, ridden by Richard Mason, in third. Log on Intersky, trained and ridden by Miss S Firmin, was fourth.
The Motorlux Mixed Open Race proved an exciting competition. Moscow Court, trained by Mrs David Plunkett and ridden by Oliver Murphy, was the class act to follow but Rathcoole Dancer (Miss H Grundy) applied the pressure in the early stages. The second circuit saw a display of slick jumping from winner Moscow Court and a challenge by Andrew Morley on Zirkel gave him second place at the finish.
Another good field and plenty of excitement came with The Hannick Homes PPORA Club Members Race for Veteran & Novice Riders. Strong Weld, owned by Mr R G Jenkins and ridden by R Jenkins, strung out the field from the start. The Kemp team’s Mulligans Pet ridden by Heather Kemp went off favourite but although fighting back in the closing stages he just couldn’t get to the tiring Strong Weld who crossed the line first with Mr P Kenworthy-Browne’s Ilongue ridden by Laura Hurley in third. Sir Michael Connell’s HiHo Silver Lining was fourth under D Hilton.
Tim Underwood made up for his third in the second race with a fine win in the Kidson-Trigg Chartered Surveyors & Auctioneers Restricted Race with his horse Make or Break ridden by Richard Mason. Favourite Phiroza took a strong hold at the start and put up a furiously fast first circuit time. Echoesofthepast ridden by George Phillips started the final attack for the line but was pipped at the post finishing in second place. Mr J Tredwells’ Alf’s Spinney, ridden by J Hodson, was third while Clash, ridden by Laura Thomas, was fourth.
Favourite Silver Moon Lite under Peter Mason took the Stan James Open Maiden, with a second for the second year running for Owston Ferry, this year ridden by Tom Garner. Third place went to S Painting on Le Comte, with Mr G Whiskers’ Pur Star in fourth. The race wasn’t without hair raising moments as Sting’s jockey, Patrick Millington, lost the reins early on and, although spectacularly managing to stay aboard, was unable to negotiate the first corner with just a neck strap and put paid not only to his race but hampered others too.
Our stars of the future finished the day with The Pinewood Perpetual Trophy Pony Race. The 138cm and 148cm was combined – the winner Tarka II was stylishly ridden by 15-year-old Charlotte Hawker with 13-year-old Joe Ponting on Hope and third placed Jethro with Alice White, 14. Minky ridden by Sam Burton, 10, was first of the 138cm class.
The ever-popular terrier racing and dog show kicked off pre-racing entertainment, a record number of people joined in the fun.
Falconer Alan Greenhalgh, of the Countryside Alliance, had his skills tested when the escapee peregrine falcon from last year yet again showed more interest in the surrounding country. The crowd enjoyed playing spot the bird as he juggled his demonstration while also bringing in (successfully) his winged demon.
The Old Berks hounds met with an excellent reception in the ring, all looking in fine fettle and enjoying the social aspect of the day before the first race.
A great day out for all was the general consensus – we can now look forward to the next one!
The Oka OBH Members’, Subscribers’ & Farmers’ Race
The John Manners Memorial Confined Hunts Race
The Motorlux Mixed Open Race
The Hannick Homes PPORA Club Members Race for Veteran & Novice Riders
The Kidson-Trigg Chartered Surveyors & Auctioneers Restricted Race
The Stan James Open Maiden Race
The Pinewood Perpetual Trophy Pony Race 138cm and under
The Pinewood Perpetual Trophy Pony Race 148cm and under