First point-to-point of new season is a huge success
PUBLISHED: 14:45 23 November 2017
The Devon and Cornwall area hosted the start of the new British point-to-point season with the Bishops Court Racing Club fixture at Ottery St Mary, writes Granville Taylor.
A mild autumn afternoon and competitive racing on softish ground attracted a sizeable crowd and featured riding doubles for Josh Newman and Bradley Gibbs, plus training doubles for Kayley Woollacott and David Brace.
Newman took the opening two-and-a-half miles Maiden for four- to six-year-olds with a comfortable win on board ex-hurdler The Kings Writ. This six-year-old is owned by David and Steph Stevens and is now in the yard of trainer Kayley Woollacott.
“This is one of the couple I nicked off Richard (Woollacott). He was a bit bouncy but outjumped his rivals,” commented the trainer, who confirmed that 25-year-old Josh Newman, a Cheltenham festival-winning rider on Midnight Prayer in the National Hunt Chase, will have the stable rides this season.
It didn’t take long for the successful trainer/rider combination to follow up, thanks to a sound display of jumping from Pointview Gale in winning the three miles Open Maiden. This sturdy ex-Irish gelding drew right away from his opponents after his nearest pursuer Druid Spitfire fell at the second last fence. The eight-year-old runs in the colours of Kayley’s father Martyn and stepmother Nicky Jones. “He jumped his way there and all he does is jump and gallop,” remarked the Rose Ash trainer.
Welsh pointers invariably do well at the early season Devon and Cornwall meetings, and the enforced late switch of this traditional opening fixture from Black Forest Lodge to Bishops Court, Ottery St Mary, proved no exception. Colorado Doc (Conditions Race) and Doc Cody (Restricted) each rewarded supporters from over the Severn Bridge in the hands of 25-year-old jockey Bradley Gibbs.
These promising six-year-olds are owned and trained by their Pyle, Bridgend-based breeder David Brace. Colorado Doc was given a positive front running ride to hold off fellow Welsh traveller War Path in the quickest time of the day.
“He ran a bit freely early on but is a nice young horse who could have the Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow as his target,” said David Brace, who stood the sire of the winning pair, the now deceased Dr Massini. The Dunraven Bowl hunter chase is sponsored by the winning owner, who went on to take the Restricted with his equally talented six-year-old Doc Cody.
The well-backed favourite Champione proved a disappointing comeback ride for Nick Williams in this event, in which four of the seven-strong field held Welsh certificates. Doc Cody was sent on by Bradley Gibbs two out, and readily drew clear of the only other finisher Minella Mojo round the final bend. “Doc Cody’s dam Brydferth Ddu, which means Black Beauty, won a Maiden for us and has also bred our winning pointer Bob The Butcher,” explained the owner.
Will Biddick has been playing down his chances of adding to his six men’s national titles, but quickly got on the scoreboard for the new season as Moreece strode clear to take the Exeter racecourse Intermediate qualifier.
This was yet another Welsh success, since the winner hails from the Pyle yard of Jonathan Lean. “He is only 15.2 but is a little dynamite we had out of Tim Vaughan’s yard,” said owner Sherree Lean, who has her eye on one of the Intermediate finals later in the season.
Top Wood was formerly a useful performer having won over hurdles and fences for David Pipe, and justified strong market support for new connections to win a decent 12-runner Mixed Open.
The winner shook off the attentions of runner-up William Money, a second-ever race ride for Connor Brace, to score convincingly in the end.
Ten-year-old Top Wood is now owned by Johny Weatherby, having been purchased for £15,000 at Ascot sales earlier this year.
He is now one of four pointers in the care of Kelly Morgan near Oakham, Rutland. “The change of scenery has probably helped. He can be very keen but a bit quirky and he settled and jumped exceptionally today,” reported the East Midlands-based trainer. Talented rider 25-year-old Sam Davies-Thomas, pupil assistant to Dan Skelton, had the mount on the winner.