Sunshine bathed the picturesque Littlewindsor course, with the Dorset/Somerset countryside looking its best as the Seavington held their point-to-point. Two riders in particular will remember the day, as Ben Godfrey and Mick Boyce rode their first ever winners and, sandwiched in between their victories, was a first five timer for local trainer Jack Barber and a four timer for champion rider Will Biddick.
Ben, 16, from Lopen nr Crewkerne, who has had a successful time as a pony rider, started proceedings by winning the Hunt race aboard the ultra-consistent Sobre Tresor, owned by Ros Newman and trained by Chloe Newman at Woolminstone. This was Ben's first ever ride, having finished second on the final pony race of his career in the preceding race. Ben, who is sponsored by RaceTech, had a willing partner in Sobre Tresor, who was initially held up and then joined the leader Driftwood Pride at the final ditch before staying on well to win by 1½ lengths. Describing the experience as 'brilliant', Ben added 'he jumped superbly for me'. Ros was delighted to have given Ben his first ride and he follows in the footsteps of Josh Newman (who rode his first winner on the gelding), Taylor Pook and Tom Hawke, who all started their riding careers aboard Sobre Tresor.
Jack Barber's quintet of winners started with the good looking Black Valentine comfortably winning on his debut the young horse maiden for Will Biddick. Although his cause was assisted by his nearest rival, Culverwell, unseating Martin McIntyre at the last, he was already in command. Jack explained that due to his size he had not been able to get him to the course last season and 'he is a horse for the future'. Based on the evidence of this run, he looks an exciting prospect for his owner, Paul Nicholls.
Jack immediately followed up when the appropriately named Vards collared long-time leader Faraway Star and her nearest pursuer Sir Des Pres at the last fence to win the Open Maiden. Bought for Richard Barber and now running in the colours of the Axe Valley Racing Club, the six year old Tamure gelding who was also making his debut, is named after one of the fields overlooking the course at Littlewindsor.
After Chapoturgeon had walked over for the Mens Open, Aikideau continued the success for Jack's stable when comfortably winning the Ladies Race with Bryony Frost on board. Bryony waited before producing her mount at the second last fence and then drew away from her six rivals with the winning margin being 10 lengths. Bryony, who explained that her mount likes better ground than the soft ground he found today, was notching up her fourth Ladies victory in the Wessex area and has won the Wincanton Racecourse Ladies Championship for the leading lady in Ladies races across the season.
Jack's five timer and Will's fourth victory came courtesy of Captain Probus in the Restricted. Looking held at the second last fence, Will conjured an effort from his partner and stayed on to beat the long-time leader Sammy Blade ridden by Natalie Parker. Wearing a first time hood and reappearing since last being seen at Larkhill in early January, Jack explained that 'he picked up an injury which has taken a while to get over and the hood was to get him more settled'. It certainly seemed to work, with the gelding winning by five lengths at the line.
Mick Boyce, 19, from Limerick had his first winner aboard Triangular in the Novice Riders race, owned and trained by Ciara Fry, wife of his employer, Harry Fry, who trains at Seaborough. Mick, who did not ride in Ireland, was having only his second ever ride in public and described the experience as 'I loved it'. He did not think he was going to win, as his partner would not take up the bit, but once he passed a rival he quickly made up ground, headed the leader Louis Pasteur at the last and won by a length. Triangular has now won for both his novice pilots this season and he is proving a real star in that role.
Prior to the point-to-point races Churchill ridden by Olive Nicholls narrowly defeated Wee Anthony in the 138cm pony race and Don't Tell Dai ridden by 14 year old Connor Brace, grandson of David Brace, comfortably justified the trip from South Wales when easily winning the 148cm pony race from Calypso ridden by Ben Godfrey on his last ever pony ride.
Hunt Members (5 ran)
1 Sobre Tresor 5/4F B Godfrey; 2 Driftwood Pride 7/4 D Andrews; 3 Seero 20/1 Miss A Goschen. 6min 56s. 1½l, dist. (Chloe Newman)
Open Maiden 2m4f (9 ran)
1 Black Valentine evensF W Biddick; 2 Dennis Our Menace 10/1 T Chanin; 3 Sporting Anna 8/1 Miss V Wade. 5min 58s. 12l, 12l. (Jack Barber)
Open Maiden (16 ran)
1 Vards evensF W Biddick; 2 Faraway Star 10/1 R Withey; 3 Sir Des Pres 10/1 Philip Thomas. 7min 15s. 1½l, 1½l. (Jack Barber)
Mens Open (1 ran)
1 Chapoturgeon W Biddick. Walked over. (Jack Barber)
Ladies Open (7 ran)
1 Aikideau evensF Miss B Frost; 2 Ohio Gold 4/1 Miss N Parker; 3 Goodnight Vienna 7/4 Miss T Worsley. 7min 05s. 10l, 2l. (Jack Barber)
Restricted (12 ran)
1 Captain Probus 4/5F W Biddick; 2 Sammy Blade 33/1 Miss N Parker; 3 Our Chief 7/4 M McIntyre. 5min 58s. 5l, 2l. (Jack Barber)
PPORA Club Members (6 ran)
1 Triangular 6/4 M Boyce; 2 Louis Pasteur 6/1 R Withey; 3 Virginia Ash 8/1 E Doggrell. 7min 11s. 1l, 12l. (Ciara Fry)