Welsh hunt-racing is mourning the death of Penhow farmer and former amateur rider David Stephens (pictured below).
David, aged 67, died peacefully at home on July 10. The much-loved husband of Janet, brother to Brian, Joan and Jeff and father to Robert and James he was also the grandfather to Arthur and Oliver.
Unassuming David had a knack of getting horses to go well for him and he was associated with some good point-to-pointers over the years. These included Master Straight, Linden Lad, Ashburton, Bell- Amys and Double A which was bred by his late father Owen a steward at Welsh hunt-race meetings.
It was Double A which provided David with his very first winner and he certainly knew all about the ups and downs of steeplechasing. His list of injuries included a damaged back, broken collar bones and thumbs and various other 'minor' injuries.
On a number of occasions, David rode winners on the same day as his sister Joan Williams and on one memorable occasion at the Tivyside Hunt Point-To-Point, Joan won on Ashburton her husband Martin scored on Knock on the Head and David won on Rock Candy making it a real family occasion.
David’s hunt racing hero was Castleton farmer Bill Jones a leading amateur rider so David was delighted when one season he won the Bill Jones Memorial Trophy which goes to the leading rider in South Wales.
Horses didn't have to be well fancied for David to score on either. Some years ago now, he rewarded his supporters at the Cotswold Vale Farmers fixture when winning the men's open race on the 100-1 rank outsider Clear Away! David, who rode more than 100 winners between-the-flags, also rode winners under Rules at Chepstow, Ludlow, Towcester,Warwick and Folkestone.
Family friend Colleen Ford-Ellis said: "David was a true horseman and gentleman with a great love and knowledge of the countryside,farming,hunting and racing.'' His race riding days over, David put something back into the sport he loved by being an official at many of the meetings and the Welsh point-to-point scene will not be quite the same ever again.
Brian's Blast From The Past
In the Western Mail on June 2 1979, under the heading ' David Is Top Rider', I had this to say: " A Feature of the current point-to-point season has been the riding of David Stephens, of Penhow, near Chepstow. A protege of Wales's best-known rider Bill Jones this stylish rider has ridden 10 winners this season. Four of those wins were gained on Mr J.R.Sloman's most promising seven-year-old Master Straight who is qualified with the Glamorgan Hunt.''
" But it was his success on 66-1 outsider Boundtobe at the Tredegar Farmers' fixture that impressed a lot of hunt-racing enthusiasts. Boundtobe was looking a beaten horse approaching the last fence but somehow the dashing Stephens conjured up a renewed challenge to score by a neck from the favourite, Barvic. Stephens has ridden several winners under rules.''