Modifications to the course at the East Devon’s point-to-point at Ottery St Mary earned it plenty of plaudits with both retiring clerk of the course Bill Trump and fence builder Andy Ross coming in for praise.
The home straight had two fences (rather than three) and the back straight gained an additional obstacle. Polly Gundry, who booted home a double, said: “The fences are riding brilliantly and they’ve done a fantastic job here. We would never run our horses here before but this year we made 13 entries and ran five.”
Ten races made up the card kicking off with the members’ race which saw Bill Trump crown a memorable final day as clerk when his wife Sue’s McSolo won under Ian Chanin.
There were three divisions of the open maiden for five, six and seven year olds with the Louise Alner-trained Turnworth the winner of the first with Sam Allwood in the saddle. Sally Alner said: “He’s still very much a baby and hopefully he will come on for that.”
The next division went to the Polly Gundry and Ed Walker-trained Restless Harry who held on by half a length from favourite Elevenses.
Gundry, in the plate this time, also rode the dam Restless Native for owner breeders Richard Francome and Sylvia Sealey. “I can’t believe how well he has jumped. He did it very well and he’s one on the yard we do think a lot of,” said Walker.
Gundry later scored on the front running grey Labarynth who makes amends on the course for being difficult at home. Walker explained: “You get her out on the course and she’s a different horse but she took us two months to break in and every now and then she looses it. Polly has done a lot of work with her. The first time we ran her Polly had to ride her in the lorry park before the race.”
Kathy Stewart, who lives just a field away form the course, was the winning owner of third maiden winner Kenickie, named after a character in the film Grease. Trained by Richard Barber and ridden by Rachael Green, he was bought privately in Ireland by Stuart who admitted after the race she was surprised at the ease of his success.
Southwestern booked his ticket for the Christie Foxhunters’ at the Cheltenham Festival next week after sluicing up in the men’s open. Trainer Camilla Scott admitted she was concerned at one stage when the gelding appeared to have a lot to do down the back straight, but when asked by Harris he moved up a gear and won the race in the easiest fashion. Scott said: “If he comes out of this race okay, he’ll go to Cheltenham but he really did have to come here and do that to have any chance of going. When he was beaten at Buckfastleigh he was short of work as we were completely snowed in for a few days.”
Sericina was favourite to land the intermediate and he did so in good style under Chloe Roddick jumping to the front two fences from home and winning by eight lengths.
However, his owner Michael Shepherd’s expectations are far less lofty than the final at Exeter Racecourse. As joint master of the Mendip Foxhounds his dream is to win the hunt race. “I only bought her with that race in mind and now she’s won three races for us,” he commented.
Just four went to post in the ladies’ open with the Charlotte Tizzard trained and ridden Coombe Hill winning easily.
Second division of the restricted went to Matako who was running for the sixth time this season and scored his second success under Suzy Berry. “She settled better again this time,” said winning trainer Pat Bryant.
Concluding race of the day was an eight year old and over open maiden which went to Celtic Society and Ryan Bliss. It was Bliss’ partner Louise Rycroft’s first ever winner as a trainer. “We bought him at Ascot sales last July and he’d had seven runs under rules,” said the 21-year-old who combines working with Keith Cumings with studying business at Plymouth University.