THE National ladies’ championship went right to the wire at Umberleigh on Saturday with the final race of the 2006-2007 season proving the decider.
With Polly Gundry one point adrift of Claire Allen to regain the title she won from 2000 until 2005, Richard Woollacott gave up his ride on Hooray Henry in a final attempt to help the former champion draw level.
But with Hooray Henry finishing third, Gundry conceded defeat and Allen, who won the national novice championship in 2005, was crowned the champion.
However, Gundry finished the season the winner of the Devon and Cornwall area championship, with ten wins and 65 points, releasing the grip Lucy Gardner has held on the title since 2001.
“I’m thrilled to win,” said Gundry who trains a team of point to pointers near Ottery St Mary.
Gardner, who finished second in the area with nine wins and 58 points, said: “It’s been a great season and I’m so pleased for Polly. It’s been fun battling it out with Polly and I’m grateful to everyone who has supported me throughout the season.”
One of Gardner’s biggest supporters is Graham Brown who was unable to watch her collect her third win of the season on Grey Ciseaux who made easy work of winning the confined hunts race.
Third in the ladies’ championship was Alice Mills who also won the area novice championship. She finished the season on a high note, winning the ladies’ open on Doof, for Sarah Townrow and David Bryant who have an equine swimming pool at Whitley Farm in Cornwall.
Mills had adopted front running tactics on the well bred seven year-old. “We always knew he has plenty of ability but we are just finding more out about him every time he runs,” said Bryant.
Richard Woollacott and Nick Scholfield provided race goers with a thrilling match in the men’s championship. Woollacott had a two point advantage over 17 year-old Scholfield going into the final day of the season, but the championship was his with the latter having no rides.
In the end, Woollacott rode 20 winners in the area, and added two points to his 114 after finishing second to Montys Island on Erics Way in the mens’ open.
Woollacott said: “It’s been very exciting with Nick, but I’m delighted to have won again. I couldn’t do it without all the support I have, especially from my partner Emely (Thompson).”
Scholfield finished the season on 22 wins and 110 points and is the runaway winner of both the area and national novice championships.
Eight of his successes came on Ben and Sally Messer-Bennetts’ home bred Sea Snipe, whose ten wins (she was partnered by Richard Darke on the other two occasions) earned her the prestigious Horse and Hound Championship for the country’s leading horse.
Sea Snipe is trained by Becky Kennen and her success with the mare means she now join a long list of Westcountry-trained horses who have won the coveted award including Hargan (Paul Tylor), For A Lark (John Weldhen), Mantinolas (Ken Nicholas), Phar Too Touchy (Rebecca Francis) and Butler John (Nick Viney).
There is just a six month break before the point to point season begins again in December.