It was a dry, overcast afternoon at Chipley Park, where panoramic views of the Quantock and Blackdown Hills provide a scenic backcloth.
A total of 82 runners contested the eight races on good to soft going for the Tiverton Foxhouds point-to-point at Chipley Park on Sunday (25 Jan).
The former hunter chase winner Parkam Jack had been off the course for 18 months, but that did not stop the nine-year-old from getting the better of odds-on favourite Certain Flight in the featured Mixed Open. Welsh jockey John Mathias was partnering his sixth winner of the season on Parkam Jack, who is owned by John and Floss Symes and trained by Kayley Woollacott at Rose Ash near Tiverton.
The Woollacott yard quickly went on to score a double as six-year-old Jepeck landed the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate under a confident ride from Jamie Thomas. Owned by John Pike, this progressive gelding was scoring for the third time this season having won on the opening day at Black Forest Lodge before dead heating in the Larkhill Racing Club Restricted earlier this month. "He will have a little break now. He really needs a right handed track and a bit of give in the ground," reported the trainer.
It was almost a hat trick for Kayley Woollacott, but odds-on favourite Robin Will found Blinding Lights (Matt Hampton) just too good in the Hunt race. Calverleigh based owner/trainer Mary Sanderson has now won this race eight times over the years. She described her ten-year-old as a "lovely genuine horse who wasn't right last year, mainly with pulled muscles .He is fine now and I thought I had him back to his best. I nearly sold him as a schoolmaster but he didn't pass the vet so I was quite relieved in a way," said Mary
Champion point to point rider Will Biddick is already setting the pace for this campaign and notched up his eighth winner of the season when Bien Connu got home in a tight finish from stable companion Mangans Turn (Josh Newman) for the 15 runner Restricted. This was also a fine training performance from Jack Barber since the nine-year-old winner had been off the track for three years. "He had a leg and has had plenty of rest. He was scanned before last season but we decided to give him more time and he came in last September." reported Jack, who is following in the footsteps of his grandfather Richard Barber who retired at the end of last season. He has 40 point-to-pointers in his care at Henley near Crewkerne, and currently heads the trainers championship having saddled eight winners so far.
Jockey Darren Edwards is also in top form and followed up his four winners last weekend with a comfortable success on board that game mare Lucette Annie who repeated last year's success in the Club Members' Mares race. The mare is the star of the three horse Poundsgate yard of Simon Partridge and runs in the colours of joint owners Janet Humphrey and Clare West. "She needs cut in the ground and will probably go to Buckfastleigh in three weeks time," said Simon.
It was a first ever taste of success for 16-year-old rider Harry Cobden who steered Silver Token home just ahead of Ladyvie (Hannah Welch) in the Novice Riders' event. "This was my third point to point ride. I had 33 pony race wins and now ride out each day for Anthony Honeyball," said the young jockey.
General Girling and Just Imagine It battled all the way up the home straight in the first Maiden. Will Biddick's strength on the latter looked like settling it, but Philip Thomas squeezed General Girling through on the rails after the last to win by a neck. The 30-year-old rider works for the Caroline Keevil yard and was partnering his third career winner.
Luke Harvey's Porlock Bay (Darren Edwards) was sent off odds-on for the concluding Maiden, but just failed to cope with the game Ludlow qualified mare Midnights'mischief. Owned by Julie Batho and trained by Al;astair Ralph on the Downton estate, Shropshire, the winner was providing 24-year-old James Jeavons with his second career success.