by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

Just down the road for us today and we are looking forward to a good day as we are sponsoring some of the mementoes for the Jockeys that will race around this course.  Kath is sponsoring two and Ruth and I two also.  We will also be able to see the paddock that Equestrian Cornwall sponsored for last year but it did not get used so I am hoping for better things today.  A little overnight rain has not made a great deal of difference to the ‘going’ and after walking this course I would class it as ‘Good to Firm’ and now the markers and fences have been moved a little this course is in tip top condition and should encourage very good racing.  Congratulations to those responsible for the layout of the race card – all details clear and concise plus the form on the same page as the runners.  Well done!

Eight went to post in the Hunt race and this threw up some unexpected results.  I will have to email Keith (Sheppard) again as it was not quite clear to him that we pass markers in Cornwall on the same side as they do in England.  Unfortunately for him although he finished well and many lengths in front of the following two horses, he was disqualified for passing a marker on the wrong side.  The race went to Mr G Andrews’ PICK-N-CRUISE (D Stephens) by half a length from Ms K Julian’s SECRET ROCK (Lucy Gardner) and a distance away fourth was L Rowe riding his MINISTRALS BOYO.  Mr Sheppard will have to return home after a 400 miles round trip with nothing and NEW LEAF will go back to Mr Papworth to prepare for the next one.  A welcome to the list of first time riders goes out to Miss J Cole on her COLD SNAP; not successful on this occasion but one has to start somewhere.  The time of 6 minutes 14 seconds indicated that the afternoon’s racing was going to be fast.

Only four entries for the confined race, which was sponsored by Tall Trees Arena.  Good quality in this small field.  It would have been a super present to Mr John Weldhen if his DARK CHALLENGER (R Woolacott) could have made the frame today on his own course but it was not to be and he was pulled up lame.  I plonked a good deal of my allowance on John Papworth’s ‘best turned out’ FLYING MARIA (L Jefford).  A ‘funereal’ pace was announced by Mr Bill Harper for the majority of the first circuit but I would hate to have had to walk at that pace in any funeral but the point was made that it was not the quickest of races yet.  FLYING MARIA led for most of this circuit with Mrs S Batchelor’s BROWN ROBBER (T Dennis) following close up behind and then Sue Young on their FOSSY BEAR going well with BROWN ROBBER and DARK CHALLENGER just behind.  At the fence which will be the last next time, FLYING MARIA was going well followed by BROWN ROBBER and DARK CHALLENGER starting to move up.  FOSSY BEAR was still being held a little.  At the ditch for the second time FLYING MARIA now had her lead reduced by the improving FOSSY BEAR who was closing on her outside.  The second last showed Sue Young committing FOSSY BEAR and slowly gaining an advantage over FLYING MARIA and racing on to win by four lengths.  BROWN ROBBER was third, ten lengths behind.  Back to the drawing board and a cup of coffee with Ruth because if this is the set up for the day I might want a little sponsoring myself later.  One disqualified- one loser!

The Ladies Open Race sponsored by Kastners Volvo brought out only four runners.  Mrs Borradaile had brought down her POLDEN PRIDE who was once a good horse on the NH circuit, possibly expecting to win easily here in Cornwall but Kat Rogers had TRACK O’PROFIT here with Sue Young to ride and Mrs Alford’s JUST BERT was here with Jennifer Congdon riding, and the very consistent BALDHU CHANCE with the ‘on a roll’ Lucy Gardner riding was also taking part so things were not going to be easy.  I chose TRAK O’PROFIT to carry my investment but the price was a bit skinny so there was no way I was going to come out very rich but it may cover my previous losses and prevent me having to bother Ruth just yet.  BALDHU CHANCE led for a considerable way, JUST BERT had a go but when it came to the fast stuff it was BALDHU CHANCE and TRACK O’PROFIT.  With five fences left Lucy was going well, but Sue Young was working a little on TRACK O’PROFIT, and it seemed to me that the right sort of response was forthcoming.  Over the ditch it was Lucy, over the second last it was still Lucy and then the race to line - Sue got there and competed a double.  It was good as my horse came out best and I picked up a little but I think it was closer that the recorded two lengths.  POLDEN PRIDE was a length back in third place.

Only three in the Men’s Open which was disappointing.  Mr Thomas’s CHOCOLATE BUTTONS has form which consists of more letters than figures and would not be expected to be in front at the finish, so this left Cathy Bown’s ESERIE DE CORES (M Woodward) and the best turned out Mrs Bond’s WESTCOUNTRY LAD (R Woolacott) to fight it out.  Whilst Hugh Thomas tried riding without irons and then thought better of it and rejoined the race with irons, the other two were pushing on.  This they did and swapped the lead occasionally until the race really got going.  They were neck and neck and in the air together from the fifth last and provided a thrilling finish.  WESTCOUNTRY LAD took it by half a length.  Hugh Thomas came in a little way back in third place.  No doubt we will see CHOCOLATE BUTTONS at Bratton Down as usual.

The Intermediate was sponsored by Caroline Cook (Artist) who also sponsored mementoes for the owners in each race.  Again only four runners but it was good to see Polly Curling FRYS LANE to be ridden as usual by her husband – Simon in the line up.  This will be the one for me.  Mike Biddick’s LANDING STAR (R Darke) is a comparative newcomer to the P to P scene so I don’t class her as a threat to my investment.  Mrs Seage’s BORDER ROSE could provide Sue Young with a treble here but Lucy Gardner on Aunty’s (Roma Cook) COUNTY BASH is a real threat so we will see.  Sue Young decided not to hang around and went off into the lead and completed the first circuit about five or six lengths to the good of my investment with Lucy enjoying the third spot with Richard Darke finding it difficult to stay the pace and pulled up.  Going down the back straight for the final time all three horses were in line and setting sale for home quite early.  I was now feeling quite confident that I could be picking up a little cash here.  COUNTY BASH started to increase the speed and in doing so was increasing the distance between her and the other two.  This is not the plan!  With two left to jump COUNTY BASH had a good lead and unfortunately for me, my jockey decided that he preferred to ride without a saddle and neatly pushed it underneath the horse and continued to ride with it out of the way.  Not very successful really!  COUNTY BASH went on to win followed now by BORDER ROSE with my investment some way back but contrary to some rumours, he did finish the race although out of the saddle and came in third.  Brilliant Simon, how on earth did you manage to stay on?  I would love to hear Mrs White’s comments!

The Stag Inn St Austell sponsored the restricted race which sent seven runners to the starting line.  The horse, which had form notes like “best watched here!” went off like a shot and was not bothered for the rest of the race.  Mr Heath’s KANTURK GENERAL ridden by Tim Dennis maintained a lead over Liam Heard on BUDGHILL and Mandy Hand on Ruben Chapman’s INDIAN RADIER for the first circuit.  MISTER CONE (I Hambly) was left a bit at the start and remained about ten lengths adrift until approaching the ditch for the second time when he closed up on the field and then unfortunately slipped and Ian Hambly pulled him up.  KANTURK GENERAL continued to lead them out into the country for the final time followed by BUDGHILL and then SHERATON (D Stevens) and BORN NATURAL (R Woolacott).  All four of these were fighting it out approaching the last when SHERATON fell, ruining David Stevens’ chance of a double and letting KANTURK GENERAL be followed home by BORN NATURAL and then BUDGHILL.  This horse was a 16 to 1 outsider but led confidently from flag fall to finish!

The finishes have been very tight this afternoon and so it was to continue in the two divisions of the Open Maidens.  The visit of INCY WINCY SPIDER (R Woollacott) from the successful Sanderson stables (JABIRU) proved very successful in division one, as he won by a length from Mandy Hand on Ross Oliver’s ACTING TOUGH with Lucy Gardner in third place on BALDHU JAY ARR just a couple of lengths away in third.  In division two Rame Fell’s MR THURLESTONE (C Heard) was just a length in front of J Berwick’s WARNING BOARD (D McKenna) with Richard Darke on Mike Weir’s RUN FOR HANNAH back in third place.  Ruth picked up on both of these maidens, but I didn’t, so tomorrow will be a very serious day punting for me.  I cannot afford to lose!!

Eight good races and very competitive but a few more entries would have been rewarding for all the hard work getting this meeting together.  It’s a great course, lovely viewing and easy access so here’s hoping for better support next year.

We are leaving for Exeter now where we will have a good carvery meal in The Swan’s Nest, stay the night and then tomorrow onto the Axe Vale meeting at Stafford Cross.  See you all there!  Cheers Ruth & Fred