A glorious sunny day and a beautifully prepared course ensured a great turn out of both horse and human at Cothelstone on Sunday for the final meeting this season for the Wessex Area, hosted by the West Somerset Vale. For Claire Cook it was an extremely memorable day winning her first race as a trainer with her only horse, Sammy Blade. Claire who lists stunt rider and carriage driver on her CV, managed to juggle setting up Pony Club Mini Camp, coping with poorly children, a husband with genuine flu and riding 2 horses around Pontispool One Day Event in the morning before catching up with Sammy Blade to saddle him for the 3m Maiden. Given a masterly ride by Sean Houlihan, the horse who becomes claustrophobic confirmed the promise he had shown earlier in the season with a comfortable 6 length success after leading for most of the race. A stunned but delighted Claire explained how she had bought the horse after a day at Cheltenham watching Mad Moose refuse to race. Friends who now own Sammy Blade and make up the Mad Moose Partnership offered connections of said horse a home to event him, but when their offer was rejected, Claire found Sammy Blade on an Internet site being sold by his trainer having been out on loan as a hunter. A large dose of TLC which included trips to the beach have seen a transformation. He should continue to progress.
Jockey, owner and trainer Katie Bellamy also had plenty to smile about when her Rusty Nail pulled off a shock result in the Novice Riders race. With plenty of the field struggling to stay upright, it dawned on Katie that she was in with a chance coming over the last. Giving Rusty Nail a slap down the shoulder, "He just went whoosh!" explained Katie. It was only Katie's second completion in a race and this horse was recommended to her by her work colleague, Bryony Frost. Katie, who works for Jack Barber, gets up at 4am to look after him and admits she has had to learn to ride the hard way. Nick Lawton took a crashing fall mid-race and it was good to see him later sitting up in the ambulance with only suspected broken ribs.
There was a fair bit of controversy surrounding the outcome of The Whealerdealer's last race at Upcott Cross and the horse rewarded connections by taking the Mixed Open from Theatre Evening with the game Champagne Rosie in 3rd. Trainer Ian Chanin felt his brother Tom who piloted The Whealerdealer had given him an excellent ride. He hadn't given any instructions to Tom who felt the stronger pace suited him and after travelling well, the horse gamely held off Theatre Evening on the run-in. Ian said the horse had a huge amount of ability but needed to always "win" his gallops at home so they worked him with an Appaloosa to ensure this always happened and kept the gelding's confidence levels up.
Pete Ponting's Mutashabek confirmed promise his trainer suspected with a comfortable 8 length success in the shorter of the Maidens. This beautifully bred horse had had plenty of hard luck stories recently but once jockey Rex Dingle gave him a squeeze at the open ditch, he knew he'd win. On ground that suited perfectly, Mutashabek had plenty in hand over the newcomer, Kaiden Michael who ran a promising race in second for trainer Tim Vaughan. Bloodstock agent, Mel Smith who had purchased the horse privately for Ponting, was present to greet the winner.
Key People had resented the application of a tongue tie last time at Stratford but its removal for the Restricted race, saw a return to earlier form when he easily accounted for Thatcher's Brook, the pair finishing a distance clear of the remainder. Owner Sherree Lean had booked the services of her Hunter Chase jockey Will Biddick and he said the horse was much happier than he had been last time.
While the Hunt Members only attracted Mountain Cliché for trainer Nick Dawe resulting in a walk-over, the Pony Racing which preceded the racing, proved as popular as ever. Jack Greenhaigh took the first 13.2 race aboard Just Shane while in the second for that height, Veno Star and Fergus Gillard just got up to beat Churchill on the line. Fergus also took the 14.2 race on Hawkesfield Flyer and must be a jockey to keep an eye on once he graduates from ponies.