Photos by Alun Sedgemore
Point-to-Pointing in Wales really seems to have taken off this season with big crowds in attendance at most meetings.The Gelligaer Farmers fixture at sunbaked Lower Machen was no exception.
One rider who will have good cause to remember the meeting- when he finally decides to hang up his riding boots- is John Lewis Llewellyn, 38, who rode his 50th winner- 35 under rules and 15 between-the-flags- on Jason Parfitt's Find It Out in the members' race.
Llewellyn, who is assistant trainer to his father Bargoed National Hunt trainer Bernard Llewellyn,chalked up his first winner under Rules on Rectory Boy at Cheltenham in 1991 and a week later his first between-the-flags on Marie Swift at the Banwen Miners meeting.
John, who used to deliver sacks of coal for a living - he was known in the Valleys as 'John The Coal' - rides only occasionally these days.However, he is still a good judge of pace and he managed to hold off the challenge of the long odds on favourite Mouseen, ridden by Welsh champion Rhys Hughes, on the run to the line to score by half-a-length.
Find It Out was successful in the same race last year when partnered by Isabel Tompsett. Tom David, who is having a cracking season, riding Justin Bryant's Classic Chance made every post a winning one to land the confined race and the blinkered nine-year-old,who has been described as ' a cheeky monkey', clocked the same time-6mins.8secs.- as when winning the restricted over the same course a fortnight earlier.
The mixed open race went to Pembrokeshire farmer David Evans's Makena, a 25-1 chance. Well ridden by Alan Johns,19, Makena, a multiple winner in France, won by two and a half lengths from the favourite Red Man after putting in a good jump at the last fence.
Owner/trainer Robert Reddaway was hopping mad after his Fairly Glorious, backed from 7-1 to 2-1 favourite, held on by a length to win the restricted from Merthyrmawr.
He told me: "It took us three and a half hours to get here from Devon and we came with the intention of having a good bet on our horse.But some b....... beat us to it and we didn't have a penny on.'' One bookmaker took three bets of £500 to £100 about the eight-year-old, and several other satchel men reported a number of £100 bets at 5-1 and 6-1.
Canndar, a seven-year-old bay gelding by Celtic Swing, who is owned by a Cardiff golf club syndicate, and trained by Abbi Vaughan in the Vale of Glamorgan, was an easy winner of the young horse maiden coming home a distance ahead of Cutlass Silver.
In the aged maiden, Clarby Express, owned by The Bar Five Racing (3) Partnership, headed by National Hunt trainer Dai Rees, and ridden by Josh Harris, won by four lengths from Shalati Princess. Canndar and Clarby Express are both destined to go summer racing.
Well done to David Prichard,17, on winning the amateur riders flat race over two miles and one furlong at Bath races on John Flint's 20-1 outsider Corking.David, who was having only his second ride on the flat, made every yard of the running to win by a length from Black Or Red.
Welsh point-to-pointers did well at the two-day Stratford fixture. Overlut was a 12-1 winner for Rhys Hughes on the Friday evening and Bob Bites Back was beaten just three parts of a length. Then on Saturday, two Welsh point-to-pointers Lady Myfanwy and Cannon Bridge fought out the finish of the ladies' hunter chase with the former holding on by three quarters of a length.
Prolific Welsh point-to-pointer Chesnut Annie was made favourite but finished a disappointing fourth.The Welsh season comes to an end with the Pembrokeshire
fixture at Trecoed on June 6.However, Welsh horse racing enthusiasts are looking forward to June 18 when Ffos Las Racecourse stage their first ever meeting which will be a jumps fixture.
Gelligaer starting prices
Ffos Las fixtures