Meynell and South Staffordshire Point- to- Point Review – Garthorpe – Saturday 3rd June
The curtain came down on the 2017 point- to- point season in both the Midlands and North Western areas on Saturday when the Meynell and South Staffordshire hunt held their meeting at Garthorpe. There was a unique situation where points scored counted in two area championships. A large crowd enjoyed not just the excellent point- to- point action but also pony racing, trade stands, a hound parade and a jazz band within the bar.
Gina Andrews who is dominating the national lady riders’ championship, rode a double starting with a popular victory riding Can Mestret in the Cawarden Holdings sponsored Mixed Open race, and also cemented her position as leading lady rider at Garthorpe this season. Cliff Myers’ ten year old followed up an easy victory in the Ladies race at Dingley the previous week, Letbeso filled the runner up spot confirming the form of the previous week. “The ground is the key to him; he loved the fast ground today.” Reported the winning rider, referring to the going which was officially described as “good, good to firm in places” after 9mm of overnight rain added to the watering carried out by Brian Crawford and his team.
The second leg of the Andrews’ double came in the closing Bowcock & Pursaill Open Maiden race over two and a half miles. This contest was a match between Pass the Glass and Black Rose City ridden by first season jockey Huw Edwards; the five year old Pass The Glass readily quickened clear of his only rival after the last fence giving Gina a 28th success.
At the start of racing six points separated Tom Strawson and Dale Peters in the Midlands Area Gentleman rider Championship, and Peters rallied to close the gap to two when Dido scored an easy victory in the Alrewas Hayes Intermediate race. The even money favourite Dido beat Bravehearted Harry and Rory Bevin by twelve lengths, this was the seven year old’s first win of the campaign. “He loves the sun on his back at this time of year; he travelled so well today on this quick ground. “Reported Peters who also trains the gelding for owner Bob Fox.
Tom Strawson’s only ride of the day, Panama Canal provided him with one extra point when finishing third in the Mixed Open which left Dale Peters’ with one last chance to take the area title when he got the leg up on Why Lie in the Robert Baskerville Restricted race over the two and a half mile trip. Unfortunately, Why Lie was running well and disputing the lead when taking a fall. The pair were unharmed but this left the blinkered Derksen, ridden by Tabitha Worsley, to dominate the rest of the race and score readily beating Too Much Too Soon by fifteen lengths.
In the North West area Alex Edwards is a long way clear of Ed Glassonbury in the Gentleman rider title, however, Glassonbury was able to reduce this deficit slightly by landing the opening Fisher German PPORA Club Members race. Riding Oyster Shell, the pair joined the leader, the Jack Andrews ridden Carpincho at the second last fence before a good jump at the final obstacle gave them the upper hand and victory by a length. Richard Collinson was back in action following his spill at the Melton Hunts meeting to take third place with Mr Syntax. Oyster Shell is owned in partnership by Lord Daresbury and Richard Hewitt. “He has been unlucky finishing second twice this year but the key to him is an easy three miles or a sub three miles trip. He may run again at Umberleigh and then go hurdling from Oliver Greenall’s yard.” Explained Hewitt.
Henry Crow further enhanced his domination of the North Western area Novice award in the Stratstone Land Rover Nottingham PPORA Club Members’ race for novice riders. Crow had Sue Ward’s Double Dan at the head of affairs turning into the straight and powered clear to win by ten lengths. “All I had to do was to give him a squeeze and he went clear; he’s won nicely. It’s great to be area novice champion and I have been very lucky to ride some nice horses this season.” Said Crow for whom this was a ninth success. This was the second time Double Dan had faced the starter this week having finished second in a Hexham Hunter Chase on Tuesday. The second horse Kyle’s Faith had also had a busy week also finishing runner up, this time at Chaddesley Corbett on Bank Holiday Monday. The consistent Done A Runner was third for Rory Bevin.
There was an ultra- confident front running ride from another novice rider when seventeen year old Philip Armson broke his duck at the 36th attempt, riding Max O in the Richard Winterton Auctioneers Ltd Open Maiden race. Armson, whose father Richard was a top Garthorpe jockey, led from flag fall and while Arcal Fifty rallied on the run-in he made no impression on the winner’s three length lead. Max O, who was ending a hat trick of second places, was recently bought by the Armsons from Dale Peter’s syndicate of owners. “It’s great to ride my first winner and there will be some celebrations later. I am going to ride out for Tom Ellis over the summer; next season I am keen to be novice champion in the Midlands area.” Said the delighted Armson who also has passing his driving test as an immediate goal.
At the end of the afternoon the Garthorpe Championships sponsored by Southwell racecourse were presented. Tom Strawson was leading male rider, Gina Andrews was leading female rider and Diana Williams Hazell Hill was the leading horse. The North West Area awards will be presented at Tern Hall Hotel, near Market Drayton on Saturday 30th September, tickets are available from either Heidi Brookshaw 07951 585856 or Nick Bostock 07771 376380. The Midlands Area awards will be presented at the Shearsby Bath Hotel on Saturday 23rd September, tickets can be purchased from Tik Saunders 07970 667852.
Prior to the point- to- point action, there was an opportunity to see the up and coming riding talent when the Pony Racing Finals sponsored by Fergal O’Brien Racing, Treehouse and Mangan & Webb Saddlery took place.
The 148cm Meynell & South Staffordshire Conditions race was won by Blaze N Daze who made all the running to give 11 year old Lily Diggle her first winner. The same tactics were employed by Ellie Miller, also 11 years old, who had her first win with Wernlas Shakira in the 138cm & under Treehouse Sporting Colours Novice Riders Championship Final beating Lucky Lou by twenty lengths. Wernlas Shakira and Ellie will be taking part in mounted games, show jumping and cross country competitions this summer. Ellie also has an ambition to ride in a point- to- point, an aim shared by 13 year old Chloe East who also achieved an initial success in the 148cm & under Treehouse Sporting Colours Novice Riders Championship Final. Riding Highmead Reflection, Chloe took the lead inside the final furlong beating Belle Vitesse and Millie Parrington who had the disadvantage of a poor start. The lightly raced Highmead Reflection also takes part in dressage competitions.
10 year old Thomas Bradburne took his tally of winners this year to five when landing the 138cm Mangan & Webb Open Championship Final. Riding Push The Button, Thomas took up the running at the half way stage and the pony stayed on well to beat Fair And Square and Camilla Broster by twelve lengths. Thomas Bradburne is from Lambourn and the son of former National Hunt jockey Mark Bradburne. Push The Button was formerly raced by Sean and James Bowen so clearly is the right pony for Thomas to learn about race riding on.
The final race the 148cm Mangan & Webb Open Championship Final gave the most exciting finish with three ponies upsides in the closing stages. However, it was the experienced 15 year old Violet Barton who got her mount Miss Wonderful home by half a length from Tiny Dancer and Paddy Barlow. This was the sixth winner of the season for Violet, a local rider from West Leake and a very popular victory. Violet hunts with the Quorn, is an active member of the Quorn pony club and given that she is the niece of former Quorn point- to- point Secretary Liz Murfitt, it is unlikely that this will be her last success at Garthorpe.
The sponsors had generously provided prizes for all riders taking part and these were presented in the winner’s enclosure by Midlands Area Chairman Gerald Bailey after the completion of the final race.
Pictures to follow from Rose Rodgers, the Official Photographer for the meeting. www.roserodgersphotography.co.uk