When Phine Banks and her grand point-to-pointer Vasco Du Mee landed Didmarton's Oriental Club Owner/Trainer's race in March the victory was toasted with champagne in a teapot.
Now taking pride of place on the mantlepiece at her Worcestershire home, the teapot was a memento from the sponsors, a members' club based just off Oxford Street in Central London but whose background lies in trade derived in Asia and the Far East, both centres of tea production.
Banks says: "It was good to find a new series of races for horses like Vasco Du Mee, and I was planning on aiming him for more during the season. The final at Godstone would have been a possible target – I've not had much luck there, but the course would have suited him.
"On the day he won at Didmarton the sponsors were really good and seemed very enthusiastic about racing. I only hope they are not put off by the season ending so early before their sponsorship became established."
Banks kept Vasco Du Mee ticking over for a week after pointing was closed early by Coronavirus, but then accepted there was no hope of it or hunter chasing returning and she turned him out to grass. "He's now obese," she said.
A winner in Ireland when trained by Gordon Elliott, Vasco Du Mee began racing in the colours of Caroline Banks, Phine's mother, in 2016 and proved an instant hit, winning hunters' chases at Fakenham and Cheltenham while under the care of trainer Martin Weston. For the most recent season he moved to the Banks family's home and ran promisingly behind smart Fumet D'Oudairies at Horseheath in February before the Didmarton win, which features as the final clip of film in the current series of Moments of the Season.
Phine says: "I hunt him fit. He doesn't like going up the gallops – he gets bored and doesn't try very hard, but he didn't miss a Saturday hunting last season and is brilliant at it. He's only 15 hands, but he has a significant buck in him. Fortunately everyone knows him.
"On a going day he's very good at racing. He warms up and gets going half a circuit from the end, which is exactly what he did when he won the four-miler at Cheltenham [in 2016] and again at Didmarton. He revs up and off he goes."