As the season winds down towards its summer break, the Wessex Area saw its final point to point meeting of the year on Sunday with the West Somerset Vale at Cothelstone. Despite a smaller entry than last year, there were enough runners to ensure competitive racing and trainer Keith Cumings saddled a welcome double while Josh Newman completed a riding double.
The second leg of the Cumings double came courtesy of Dr Rhythm who romped home by 25 lengths in the Restricted under Josh Newman. A similar wide margin winner of his maiden two seasons at Holnicote when trained by Jack Barber, he looked destined for better things but after being transferred to Paul Nicholls, found life a bit tougher under Rules. Now with Keith Cumings, owner Tina Dunsford credited the yard who have treated the horse with plenty of TLC and it seems to be paying off. A return to form had been hinted at last time when second to the classy Bubble O'Clock at Holnicote and while the Kalanisi gelding is still quite unfurnished, he is only a six year old and could improve again next season.
Another returning to form for Keith was Steel Brush who took the opening Confined Race for Maurice Scott under jockey Matt Hampton. He had finished third last time out at this course to Wessex Champion Novice Mare, Country Legend and was entitled to win at odds-on. Winning jockey Matt admitted that he found it harder to make up the ground especially as the horse is older and wiser and second placed I'llhavealook was determined to stretch him. A good jump by the winner at the third last sealed his fate and he was four lengths to the good at the line.
Jockey Josh Newman secured his other winner on outsider Second Chapter for trainer Max Young in the first of the Maidens. Max who hails from Worcestershire only acquired the four year old Arcadio gelding a month ago from Ireland and had done little with him bar feed him up, a point which was not missed by Spillers Feed Rep, Kay Scriven who was there to congratulate her client. The trainer is certainly developing a knack for acquiring Irish cast-offs via Tommy Dowling and turning them around quickly having done similar with Aero Majestic at Kingston St Mary on Easter Monday. A half-brother to Palmers Hill who won in eye-catching fashion for JP McManus and Jonjo O'Neill at Cheltenham in November, he could now head to the Point to Point Sales at Ascot next week and could prove interesting.
The second Maiden went to Annie Bacon's Tomb Storme after a positive ride by Tom Doggrell who made much of the running before kicking clear with two fences to jump. Tomb Storme looked set to lose his maiden tag at Cherrybrook in April until unseating Annie's partner Josh Cameron two fences out and was another to have been sourced in Ireland. It was an emotional win for the yard as Josh's business partner Hayley Yates was currently in a serious condition in Southampton Hospital and they dedicated this victory to her. Owned in partnership by Josh, Sarah Parson and Jonty Dampney, Annie felt the horse would now be roughed off for the season.
Uppertown Hawk is a horse who has shown a liking for this course and his sub-6 minute time showed he was in no mood for indicating otherwise. He had tried the same tactics under regular pilot Sam Jukes here last time but had bumped into an in-form Jack Snipe and had had to settle for second best. Market rival Moscow Prices was another with course form and he tried to throw down a challenge under Lucy Mager but the telling early pace had probably been his undoing and Uppertown Hawk held on by a little over two lengths. Sam who also trains the horse for Clive Bennett, felt the fresh ground on the inside of the course was quicker and kept his fast-ground loving horse as tight to the rails as possible.
Only two went to post for the Novice Riders race but both Desert Roe and Jack Snipe came here in great form. On paddock inspection, the former looked outstanding while Jack Snipe, sent off slightly shorter in the market, was possibly showing the effects of a long season. The favourite set out to make every post a winning one and was partnered for the first time in a race by his trainer's sister Charlotte Hawker although she does ride him out at home. Her rival's pilot, Jack Tudor however was content to stalk her in second and he got some great jumps out of Desert Roe before sending him on to an eight length victory. Jack is set to take the Novice Riders crown won last year by his great friend Connor Brace and he was delighted to have surpassed Connor's total.