Point-To-Point racing returned to Redland Farm, Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan last Saturday for the first time since 2012 and the organisers who worked so hard to get the course ready in time were rewarded with a huge attendance the best seen at a point-to-point in the Wales area for many years.
There were eleven bookmakers in attendance - three more than usual - and the day's riding honours went to Carmarthen's 18-year-old Ben Jones who was landing his first ever hat-trick.
Ben took the Conditions race on Gun Shy, the Timico Mixed Open on Princely Player and the Restricted on Manhattan Mead. Gun Shy scored by eight lengths from Bradley Gibbs's mount Mr Sawyer and Jones told me, "He travelled well throughout." The successful owner-trainer Chepstow's Tommy Faulkner, who was saddling his seventh winner of the season, and who said he backed the horse paid 2,000 guineas for him at the Ascot Sales. "He's a tricky fellow to train but all going well he run at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase evening meeting next month" said the former the rider.
Princely Player, owned by The KP & Nuts Racing Club and trained by National Hunt trainer Peter Hobbs's sister-in-law Karen Hobbs and qualified with the Vine and Craven
Hunt in Berkshire, drew clear two fences from home from the pace-making Yeats Ace (Bradley Gibbs) to win by ten lengths with the odds-on Hidden Charmer (Jack Tudor)
a further twelve lengths away in third spot. "He's a sleepy sort but he stays all day" said Jones who had won on the 12-year-old at Hereford Racecourse on April 7th.
The third leg of Ben's hat-trick came in the Restricted when the blinkered Manhattan Mead led at the last to beat the pace-making Robbina (Jack Tudor) by one-and-a-half lengths. Backed from 8-1 to 6-1, Manhattan Mead is owned by hunt-racing stalwart Gwynne Phillips and trained by former Welsh champion point-to-point rider Paul Hamer in Carmarthen.
Seven faced the starter for the Aged Maiden race and Welsh champion Bradley Gibbs, riding the eight-year-old Chase Me for Ledbury trainer James Ridley, finished ten lengths ahead of the favourite SamDibien trained by former leading Welsh National Hunt jockey Sam Thomas. Bradley, who received a phone call the night before the races offering him the ride, said: "The farther we went the better Chase Me jumped."
Of the five horses that went to post for the Young Horse Maiden, the youngest of them the four-year-old the Tim Vaughan trained Loco CoCo led approaching the penultimate fence and went on to win by one-and-a-half lengths from Gibbs's mount Thomas Crown. The Irish-bred Loco CoCo was ridden by Morgan Winstone,aged 18, who was chalking-up his first winner between-the flags. Morgan, who works for Tim Vaughan ,at nearby Aberthin,hails from Pontypool and has also ridden a winner under Rules.
In a match for the Hunt Members race, the eight-year-old Rio Bravo, owned by Miss Claire Sherriff and partnered by Bradley Gibbs, made nearly all and despite jumping to the left went on to win by fifteen lengths from the odds-on Blazing Tom (Jack Tudor). Rio Bravo is trained by Bradley's father David Gibbs at Ynysbwl.
Members: Rio Bravo (Bradley Gibbs) evens fav
Open Maiden: Chase Me (Bradley Gibbs) 11-4
Conditions: Gun Shy (Ben Jones) 5-1
Timico Mixed Open: Princely Player (Ben Jones) 7-2
Restricted: Manhattan Mead (Ben Jones) 6-1
Open Maiden: Loco Coco (Morgan Winstone) 6-4 fav