Cothelstone Point to Point course has always been a popular venue for spectators and competitors alike and it was no exception last Wednesday when the final fixture of the Wessex Area was held
Highlights on a sunny May evening were seeing rejuvenated horses enjoying their new careers at an easier level, a winner apiece for the Men’s title chasing jockeys, James King and Will Biddick, as well as Ladies champ Gina Andrews while some very close finishes were left to the judge to sort out.
Pointing traditionally used to be about a small family outfit who had one horse that another member of the family used to ride in addition to their normal profession. Occasionally this still happens and it could not have been showcased better than when Country Legend stuck her head in front to land the Mens Open by a head under Tom Bishop. Country Legend is a credit to her trainer, Frances Bishop and has now won 8 times for the family ridden each time by “Office Boy Bishop” as Tom calls himself. With the fancied Beau du Brizais making much of the running, Tom found himself with a very enthusiastic partner as the mare regularly tried to take the leader on. Leading Novice Rider, Charlie Sprake sat quietly in third and thought he had timed his run perfectly as he challenged over the last but Country Legend showed real determination to just deny him on the line. A slightly guilty Tom said “I felt bad as I am trying to support Charlie in his Championship bid and I have just denied him a winner!”
Another jockey who is in the running for the Novice title is Freddie Gordon who rode a confident race on Commanche Red in the Novice Riders race to win by 3 lengths from Rocheston. Freddie’s father Chris who trained Commanche Red under Rules said that the horse found this drop in grade well within his capabilities. He also explained that the horse’s owner Richard Cheshire, who is CEO of Krispy Kreme Donuts, was keen to support Freddie in his title bid. Freddie is currently at school in Southampton and will go back to Andrew Baldings for the summer before taking up a position as amateur at Paul Nicholls which would enable him to keep riding in points and gaining valuable experience.
Paul’s daughter Olive herself is currently in second place for the Ladies Novice title and inched closer with a very comfortable win on Rhythm is a Dancer who took the Ladies Open by 20 lengths. This was Olive’s 9th winner of the season although she didn’t turn 16 until the middle of December, and according to her father she is really enjoying combining eventing and pointing. He also added that she also had Virak and Monsieur Gibraltar to ride and the latter especially enjoyed the faster ground.
Leading lady rider Gina Andrews made a rare visit to the course when steering Misstree Song to win the opener for husband Tom and owners Nigel and Sarah Faulks. Sarah explained that the home-bred mare was one of a long line of horses from the same family and the dam of the winner had just foaled a filly to the stallion Dink who stands at Alne Park Stud, owned by the Skelton family. Tom felt the mare was coming here fresher than most as it was only her third run of the year while Gina complimented her saying “she’s a really nice progressive mare and she jumped beautifully.”
Another mare who looks progressive is Blueberry High who took the Maiden under James King. Blueberry High had finished second to Misstree Song last time out at Barbury and this gives the form a solid look to it. Connections who are keen to support James in his title bid were confident that she would improve for the step up in trip and she probably won more comfortably than the three quarters of a length given by the judge indicated.
Will Biddick had taken the earlier Maiden over the shorter trip on Hollow Ron, when he switched inside going into the last to pick off leader Skilful Lord and win by a length and a half in the now familiar luminous green colours of the Boundary Partnership. Trained by Chris Barber, Hollow Run is a 4 year old by Beat Hollow and is a half-brother to Kindofabigdeal who took a mare’s maiden for the same outfit at this course last year. Bought privately in Ireland, Chris has taken plenty of time with him as he explained he was still quite raw but this was a pleasing debut. He would now head off to the sales and could make up into a nice bumper horse as he showed plenty of speed when asked.
The Restricted race went to Lucy Brown on her own Rufio who followed up his Maiden win at Chilfrome to win by half a length and deny Will Biddick a second winner on the night. Making much of the running, Rufio held off several challengers and although Lucy described him as “a bit of a character” he showed toughness aplenty to hold off Whotheman. Trainer Peter Mason for whom Lucy has worked for the last two seasons, said “it’s all credit to Lucy who works so hard with the horse who she bought at Doncaster Sales out of Harry Fry’s yard.” Lucy is currently studying at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.
The racing was preceded by two Pony Racing finals, the first of which went to odds on favourite Veno Star ridden by Freddie Fletcher in a tight finish while the second race went to Buddy’s Girl who was sent into an early lead by Rian Corcoran and coasted home to win unchallenged.