MOUNSEY HILL GATE
SATURDAY 25 MAY 2002
by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall - http://www.equestriancornwall.co.uk)
The weather forecast did not deter us as we set off on our 2½
hour journey to Mounsey Hill Gate. We
fortunately chose to leave Newquay via Wadebridge to get onto the A30 as
the dreaded iron bridge on the Goss Moor has been claiming a few victims
lately and we do not want to get held up in traffic. When will drivers learn that a 14.6 high lorry will not go
under a 14.3 high space below a bridge – well not intact anyway! We
learned later that an accident caused this road to be blocked AGAIN at the
cross roads near the bridge so we chose well.
Maybe I could choose well when I get to the meeting.
I can confirm that the road to Dulverton has been repaired
and now it is quite a pleasant drive but there was a diversion because
just like Cornwall, they have trouble with their bridges and someone
complete with vehicle had decided to jump over the wall and into a garden
on the little bridge at Exebridge necessitating traffic lights and a
diversion for race traffic but we unfortunately were past before seeing
the diversion sign so we carried on our normal route and arrived quite
safely amid strong winds and pouring rain as only Exmoor can throw at you!
I can handle the wind, put up with the rain but WHY does it also
have to be so cold! Any two
of the bad elements can be endured but all three at the same time take
some sticking!! Ruth decided
the front of the Jimny would be a good place to watch from when I went off
to walk the course. In my
opinion it was good to soft with not many good patches but a lot of soft
patches and if this rain keeps up there will be more soft patches and even
less good patches and if the size of each patch increases it will be soft
with some very sticky patches. Seriously
though – it was soft! I
would expect horses to find this course very tiring!
Five entries for the Hunt race and Mrs White’s BELLS WOOD
is made odds-on favourite as he is carrying form better than the other
entrants and I have noted that an imported jockey will be riding on this
occasion; one David Barlow from the Oxfordshire area.
Apparently someone’s nuptials have claimed the normal jockey in
the form of a best man so we have to witness a visitor in the plate of the
White’s entries this afternoon. Now
this is no mean rider having already ridden more than 80 winners including
a recent double at Huntingdon in hunter chases.
The way Mr Barlow brought home BELLS WOOD in 6 minutes 57 seconds
on this course and twenty-five lengths from Mrs Woollacott’s BORN
NATURAL (M Shears) convinced
me that I need look no further for a couple of winners today.
I will just follow Tessa White and their very good friend, who was
booked back in October, Mr Barlow!
The Ladies Open was contested by 10 runners and by now I
decided to take a viewing position out in the field where I can see all
the fences not covered by the number one commentator. I get an out of sight commentary from the start to the run
through prior to the open ditch and then I can view the race right around
the far end and back to the fence prior to the finishing line where number
one commentator picks it up again. I
miss a couple of fences from here and also the finishing line but I see
the race as it happens and it suits me.
Never mind the weather! There
was close betting between three or four horses and finally I think it was
Mrs Prouse’s SHOBROOKE MILL (C
Prouse) who started out as favourite.
This horse has been hunter chasing and has done quite well in that
sphere. Off they go! Mrs
Newman’s best turned out BRETECHE
(T Newman) was away quickly as well as Mrs Borradaile’s POLDEN
PRIDE and the jointly owned PRESTIGE LORD (L Sweeting).
R Weaver’s MOSTYN, another fancied horse, lost about 30 lengths
at the start and SHOEBROOKE MILL didn’t get away too well either.
At the second open ditch it was still being fought out in front
between POLDEN PRIDE, PRESTIGE LORD and BRETECHE.
Mrs Wilkinson’s ITS GRAND and P Southcombe’s OLIVE BASKET were
still in with a chance if good enough.
At the final open ditch it was ITS GRAND who had raced into the
lead from BRETECHE and these two were at least 15 lengths to the good of
the remainder. Full marks to
Lucinda Sweeting for her marvellous recovery to remain onboard PRESTIGE
LORD but they were out of the race having lost a lot of ground.
When commentator number two handed back to Alfie for the final time
it was BRETECHE who was on her way to the winning line followed by ITS
GRAND and from the tiring remainder came J & T Greenwood’s BITRAN (O
Green) into third place. My
investment SHOEBROOKE MILL did not reward me on this occasion but then Mr
Barlow was not allowed to ride in the ladies race.
The Stags Dulverton Men’s Open Race saw eight entries go to
post and the quirky POLAR FLIGHT (L Jefford) is made the odds-on
favourite. Now I say quirky
because he has been known to find a jockey an encumbrance rather than a
help and unseats him but he has also run extremely well as at Bratton Down
when he won a hot open race and winning by being 12 lengths to the good of
the much respected WELL TED. J
Shears’s STRONG STUFF won at Lifton, Mrs Robarts’ WELL TIMED won at
Wadebridge, the Symes’ CASTLE AVENUE stays well and has won a couple
this season. A good contest!
I’m off to the investors arena and plummet my investment on Ms
Ashburner’s BELARUS at four to one and to be ridden by imported Mr
Barlow. This horse ran a very
good race last week at Dulverton West and came home in a late well judged
run by Dominic Harvey to take the spoils from, the good thing DARAYDAN and
FRIAR WADDON. When I
first get view of them Mr Cottle’s MY JESS followed by Linda
Blackford’s FERN LEADER (A Charles-Jones) are the leaders with BELARUS
whipping-in. Not to worry, he
came late last week! On
the second time they came in sight at the open ditch it was still MY JESS
now closely followed by CASTLE AVENUE and FERN LEADER running together,
BELARUS is still whipping them in along with FOOLS ERRAND (D Birkmyer).
Not to worry he came late last week!
(Slight concern creeping in!)
When it (the commentary) was handed back to Alfie with a complete
circuit to run, POLAR FLIGHT had crept up to lead the field with CASTLE
AVENUE second and FERN LEADER third.
I’m not sure now whether BELARUS had made up a few positions or
was it due to others dropping out but it was obvious that there was quite
a gap between the leading trio and my (still mine – at this stage!)
BELARUS. On coming to the final ditch it was POLAR FLIGHT and FERN LEADER
racing together who took it first with CASTLE AVENUE over in third and
BELARUS (still coming late!) bringing up the rear.
FERN LEADER slowly got the better of POLAR FLIGHT by a couple of
lengths and guess what! BELARUS was now up to third place. Whoops! the
dulcet tones of commentator number two stated – POLAR FLIGHT has
unseated at that one and FERN LEADER goes on clear.
Now this is really exciting and I am out in the field besides the
second last watching the only two remaining contestants coming towards me
– FERN LEADER slowly being run down by BELARUS.
Over the penultimate came FERN LEADER just to the good of BELARUS
and me shouting my head off and screaming BELARUS on!
Alfie now took over the commentary from ‘in the country Jeff’
and made public that this is one for the judge but he quickly corrected
this with the loveliest news of all – BELARUS first, FERN LEADER second!
I felt sorry for Linda as at one time it looked as though her
twenty to one shot FERN LEADER was going to do it but the late
coming BELARUS had done it again!
Off to the investor’s arena clutching a small white computer read
out that tells me – I’m in the money!
A great race!
Next came the intermediate with 5 runners and again an
odds-on favourite was established in R Buckler’s THE MASTER’S CHOICE.
This favouritism is backed on this horse and Neil Harris winning a
restricted last week and also his previous race.
I was not so impressed last week so I am looking for one to beat
him and settle for the best turned out Mrs Brake’s FATHER JIM (A
Charles Jones) to bring me home some more spoils.
Off they go and from out in the country I hear that my investment
carrier has started well. I like that!
At the second open ditch and into my view again I see that UCKERBY
LAD (M Munrowd) is a couple of lengths to the good of my concern with THE
MASTER’S CHOICE in third along with Mr Ferguson’s CUCKLINGTON (A
Goshen). At the fence which
will be the last next time, my horse decided to go on and relegated
UCKERBY LAD to second place with CUCKLINGTON and THE MASTERS CHOICE
following. The pace was
increased and FATHER JIM went on – and on – and on and came over the
winning line a distance to the good of CUCKLINGTON and it was only these
two that finished. This is
great stuff and I might have to borrow Ruth’s little black bag but I
will not be seen with it over my shoulder, as she will no doubt volunteer
to help me collect the investment returns!
The next is a Restricted race with 6 entries and again I
choose one to beat the favourite the Faulks’s TONY’S TIME (N
Mitchell). I settle for Miss
Burrough’s PARK END (M Sweetland) to do the business for me.
He recently won his maiden at Cothelstone, jumped well and has been
consistent in running and gradually improving.
I managed to get three to one so on went a total investment with
that earned from previous good selections.
Off they went and from number one commentator came the good news
that mine had started favourably, along with others of course.
Now I could see them and PARK END was leading with Miss Guilfoyle
on her UNCLE JAMES and the best turned out Mr Awdry’s INDIAN MUSE
following closely but the favourite, TONY’S TIME not liking the going
and whipping in at the moment. I have watched a few pointers closely this season but not
many of them have jumped as well as PARK END.
This is excellent news, as this horse can gain a length at every
fence. With two circuits to go, PARK END was leading and being well held.
On coming into sight again the order had not changed very much
except that TONY’S TIME was improving a little but the jointly owned
ABLINGTON DOWN (L Jefford) was not. On coming into view for the final time the order was the same
and now the adrenalin starts to cruise around me finalising with shouts of
‘keep it up PARK END’ and many more words of encouragement which
really were not needed as PARK END had it all in hand and continued the
excellent jumping display and proceeded to the finishing line four lengths
ahead of UNCLE JAMES who was half a length ahead of EAGLE HILL (C Heard).
Another winner – life is such a bowl of cherries! (again!)
Three divisions of Open Maiden Races were to follow, the
weather improved but I did not seem to bother too much as ‘the bag’
continued to get fatter, I laughed a lot more and Ruth even got a winner.
Of course I selected David Barlow to bring me even more riches in
division one which he did in no uncertain terms bringing home Tessa
White’s NICK’S WAY a distance clear of Mr Burbidge’s ARDMORE (A
Bush) with Miss Barrable’s WHINHOLME LASS a further distance back in
third place after being lifted over the final fence by some spectators.
This was a really tired horse and should have been pulled up before
the last and the stewards took a dim view of this and relieved the
mares’ jockey of a few fifties. Amateurs should not be fined they should be banned for set
periods. That’s my thoughts! What’s
A horse I watched run well up at Ston Easton was made
favourite for division two when nine went to post. Mrs Hawker’s SOOTSIR
(R Hawker) was taking the money. Again
I was not convinced this was the one and Mr Shear’s OLLY MAY might have
improved but surely Mandy (Hand) will be rewarded for her perseverance
with JO’S WEDDING soon. Could
today be the day? Only these
two horses finished this race and it really was a fight to the line.
When Mandy raced past me her yellow cap flew off and landed at my
feet – now surely this is the message that she will repay my investment
with bonuses. There were only
two lengths in it at the line but it was in the required order and I was a
very pleased punter as I returned the bright yellow cap to the owners –
Mandy and Mrs Edwards. Well
For the final race I settled for Mrs Hutchings’s SMETHERDS
TOM (N Mitchell) to bring ‘the bag’ to overflowing status but this was
not to be the case as the going definitely did not suit. Eleven went to
post and of these, three were to race to the line together making a very
exciting finish. With Jenny Congdon doing her bit at Newton Abbott (from
reports, doing it very well!), Lin Hawkins got the ride on A Cottle’s
ESKIMO GOLD and from the investing arena this one is fancied with Miss
Green’s FORTYSIXALLOUT also taking some money and will probably start
favourite. My horse took the lead at times but could not match the
challenges of others. At the
second of the ditches I thought I might be in with a good chance as ESKIMO
GOLD and SMETHERDS TOM took it together a little to the good of the
following pack but the final circuit really took its toll and on taking
the final turn to lead into the home straight it was ESKIMO GOLD,
FORTYSIXALLOUT and SECOND BITE (J Barnes) who were left to fight it out.
It was for the judge on the line between these three and a well
deserved win went to Lin Hawkins on ESKIMO GOLD with Ollie Green on
FORTYSIXALLOUT half a length back in second just a head in front of J
Reynolds’s SECOND BITE. A
very good race on a track that if they start the repair work now it may be
ready for next year – it did cut up a little!
A good treble by Mr Barlow, please come again and let me know
when you do. I have made a
few quick ‘phone calls and we will not be going home tonight but staying
again at Kathy’s down at Cloutsham, dining on good local food and
relishing in the fact that as we relax in front of the big log fire it
will be ‘the bookies’ that are paying the bill.
This is the life! To
‘the cyclists’ who sent Mum to introduce herself – thank you - but
you too are invited to have a chat! We will be at Bratton Down for the Exmoor Foxhounds meeting
next week followed by the South Tetcott at Lifton on Tuesday (Wendy! be
there!) and if the success of picking up a few winners continues we may
not be at home in between.
See you ALL there. Cheers Fred & Ruth