A large bank holiday crowd enjoyed the sunny weather and excellent racing at the South Notts Point- to- Point at Thorpe Lodge on Easter Monday. The hard- working ground staff had produced an excellent watered racing surface officially described as "Good, good to firm in places"; no mean feat in this prolonged dry spell of weather. 33 of the 96 entries contested the seven races; the highlights being riding doubles for leading Midlands Area Riders Johnny Bailey and Gemma Hutchinson.
Gemma Hutchinson's first winner came in the Anne Jepson Memorial Confined Hunts race with Wild Is The Wind. This ten year old, who was recording a third consecutive win this season, tracked the leaders before depriving Pennytino of the lead two fences from home and going on to win easily by eighteen lengths. "He's so relaxed in his races; all I have to do is press the button when I'm ready to go." Said a delighted Gemma Hutchinson. Tony Woodward received a trophy for riding Tom's Party, the third horse to finish and the first South Notts horse past the post.
Hutchinson's second winner in the following race, her ninth of the season, was even easier. This time her mount Limerick Leader was the only horse to be declared for the Bournston Group Ladies Open race and consequently walked over. "He'll be able to run next weekend now." Said Gemma.
The classy Coolefind was always travelling strongly in the Newark Livestock Market Men's Open race establishing a good lead three fences from home and winning comfortably by seven lengths from Point Proven. "I've had three winners over the weekend at Sandown, Dingley and now here. I can't tell you how much champagne I've drunk!" said Judy Wilson the winning owner. Coolefind was the first Johnny Bailey winner of the afternoon and is likely to run in a Hunter Chase next time out.
Johnny Bailey's second winner was again decisive and came in the Jackson Butcher's Intermediate race, a qualifier for the £7000 3 miles and half a furlong Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Point- to- Point Championship Hunter Chase Final at Cheltenham on Wednesday 4th May. Bailey, riding Kandelin trained by his father Gerald for Margaret Moody, was always handy in the race before taking up the lead in the back straight and going on to win by twenty five lengths. Kandelin was always jumping and travelling well in the race and had returned to form after a disappointing Hunter Chase run.
In the Frank Key Builder's Merchants Restricted race Gillian Burke's High Ron, the winner of a Maiden race at Brocklesby earlier in the season, was able to move up a grade. Ridden as usual by Joe Docker, High Ron took up the lead after the final open ditch and won easily by twenty lengths from Pirate Depp and Miles Seston. Gillian Burke reported that she saw High Ron look like he wanted to run back to his box when passing the paddock. Joe Docker confirmed High Ron who ran in blinkers is not always the most straightforward ride; "He's a monkey alright, but he didn't run like one today." Delighted trainer Holly Campbell was full of praise for Docker's handling of her charge; "Joe gave him a great ride." She said.
In the Fernwood Group Four, Five, Six and Seven year olds Open Maiden race the five year old Chac Du Cadran made nearly all the running to win impressively by a distance. This horse is trained by Antonia Bealby and owned jointly by her husband Chris and Liz and Rob Bingley, is highly regarded by the stable. "Chac Du Cadran is Chris's talking horse. He is still growing up; he is like a boy in a man's world today but has a great future." Said winning rider Olly Murphy.
The closest finish of the day came in the Brydon Property Development Eight year olds and over Maiden race. Three fences from home there were three horses in with a chance of winning but it was the big chestnut horse Society Sam who got up to win by three quarters of a length from Victor Grumps. The winning owner, Peter Winks, runs an Entertainment Agency in Barnsley and also has winning Hunter Chaser Plenty Of Chat in his stable. Society Sam has had his training problems but provided Ryan Winks, the owner's son, with his third winner.
Following the last race the South Notts Challenge took place. This enables riders to have the opportunity to complete a circuit and a half of Thorpe Lodge; the winner being the rider who completes in the optimum time. This event, sponsored by Buster Marquees, was won by Tom Strawson riding the unraced eight year old Bobby.
The next Point- to- Point in the Midlands Area is the Atherstone at Clifton- on- Dunsmore on Sunday 1st May, first race 1.00pm.