WELSH challengers mounted yet another successful foray at the North Cornwall point-to-point held at the Royal Cornwall Showground..
Jockeys described the going as soft, heavy in places on an afternoon punctuated by blustery rain and hail showers.
The early season Devon & Cornwall fixtures have provided rich pickings for Welsh stables, especially the Pyle, near Bridgend yard of David Brace and his jockey Byron Moorcroft,
Bob The Butcher (Restricted race) and Doctor Braveheart (Men's Open) completed a double for the pair on Sunday, taking Byron Moorcroft to the six-winner mark for the season. Seven-year-old Bob The Butcher, making his first appearance for 13 months, stayed on gamely up the final climb to repel the late thrust of Annwyl. "I think he has a bit more to give yet," said owner/trainer David Brace, who bred the gelding at his Dunraven Stud. "I had his sire Needle Gun and his dam Brydferth Ddu, who was jet black, and whose name is Welsh for Black Beauty,"
Doctor Braveheart achieved his seasonal hat trick for the same combination in the Men's Open. Byron Moorcroft dictated the pace against his sole opponent Big Fella Thanks (Noel George), and held on dourly up the hill to score by a length and a half before surviving a stewards' enquiry for drifting across his rival near the finish. "We didn't go much of a gallop and my mount hung a bit approaching the last fence," commented the winning rider.
The aptly named Doctor Braveheart was stepping up to Open class for the first time having won his Intermediate at the showground last month. The horses for courses theory was further emphasised when Premier Portrait proved too strong for his 11 rivals in the Novice Riders. Race, and when Ray Diamond took the Ladies' Open.
The ex-Kim Bailey chaser Premier Portrait had followed up his Black Forest win in November by beating Kirkleigh on this course last month, and the pair provided an action replay of that result this time. Radley schoolboy Gus Levinson has now ridden Premier Portrait to his three victories this season in his father's colours. "He is more of a stayer and didn't hang this time. We may run next at Cocklebarrow in two weeks time," reported the young rider whose busy life style includes fitting in A level studies.
The huge barn at this course is a real asset in bad weather, housing all the facilities, including trade stands and live coverage of the racing on a wide screen. It is a useful refuge for spectators and keeps the bookies in comfort. Hail stones were peppering the barn roof like bullets as the five runners paraded for the ladies' race. The rain, wind and hail however failed to stop the likeable Ray Diamond from charging up the hill to defeat Rebel Du Maquis by seven lengths in a repeat of the Cornwall Hunt Club Ladies' run here exactly one month ago. "He didn't really enjoy it until he was in front," reported winning jockey Olivia Hutchings, who has struck up a good partnership with this 11-year-old. Olivia works in the yard of Ray Diamond's owner/trainer Jackie Du Plessis a t Saltash. "We will probably stay in Ladies races and he can give Olivia plenty of experience," said the trainer.
Iron Chancellor won the Confined comfortably under Sean Houlihan to repeat his success in this same race two years ago. Trainer Sue Popham reported, "We have only got two horses in training now. This one may be aimed at a Newton Abbot hunter chase later in the season and his stable mate Swansbrook will go to Black Forest next week."
Sutton Storm seemed to relish the soft conditions to win the first division of the Maiden. Michael Legg pushed his mount clear round the final bend before going on to score by 12 lengths. The 11-year-old was enjoying a welcome change of luck having been runner up in a better race here last month. The gelding was home bred by his Sparkford, Somerset owner/trainer Angela Davis, who reported, "He suffered a broken rib when brought down in a Wincanton hurdle race which led to complications and major surgery. He is a different horse now and jumps brilliant. He is qualified for the Stratford Subaru Final."
The other Maiden division saw the mare Follow The Paint turn her bridesmaid status into that of a bride. The six-year-old had been runner up in five maidens last season, and finally came good in the hands of Jo Buck when drawing away from the tiring favourite Looking Glass to score by 15 lengths. This was a first training success for Lydia Svensson, who has taken over three of the horses in John Heard's yard near Okehampton. "I have worked for John for three seasons and he has given me the opportunity to train this year. Follow The Paint is such a nightmare at home," she smiled, but Lydia will probably forgive the mare for her memorable success
Joe Tickle trained Sedgemoor Top Bid to win the two runner Members' race in the colours of Paul Mann. Jamie Thomas made all the running to beat Miller of Glanmire by the length of the run in. "He could be aimed at the Intermediate final at Exeter. He needs better ground and would prefer a right hand course," reported the trainer.