Gundry power to national riders'championship

Polly Gundry's life would make even the Duracell bunny feel tired.

Polly Gundry's life would make even the Duracell bunny feel tired. Being champion lady point to point rider for a record seventh time with 39 winners doesn't come easy and Polly has had a record 183 rides this season to get them. The Ottery based Gundry, 32, also trained 24 horses, with her partner Ed Walker, from their East Hill stables, and holds down a full time job as a horse feed rep - a job which has involved driving 50,000 miles a year for the last six years calling on clients all over the south. The duo notched up 32 point to point wins and one hunter chase win between them. Twenty of the horses ran seven times each, testament to their ability to keep them sound. "It's nearly killed me!" she jokes. "I have a brilliant life and when it's going well you just shut up and get on with it. This season has been a fairytale and it's easy to keep going when things are going well. We have had a seriously fair amount of luck and everything has just slotted in to place like a jigsaw. That said, I will cut back on race riding next season, although (she adds modestly) I am riding quite well at the moment. I keep saying that I ought to give up my job, but then Ed tells me they don't want me hanging around at home!" The Gundry/Walker team moved to Ottery in 2006 and had 10 horses in training then, travelling to work the string at local all weather gallops. But, with such a leap in numbers, that was never going to be an option this season. She said: "We rent a field which is a three and a half furlong pull uphill. We go out of the gate at the top, down the road and come up again, which works well. The weather this year has been amazing. It just kept raining during the spring and meant that all the horses were able to keep going. We also have a seriously good team of staff headed by Nicky Brooks who has an eventing background, and includes Rose Vickery, Jenny Carr and Stuart Sampson. Rose has such a lot of experience and I can just bounce ideas or problems off her."Garrulous doesn't really describe Gundry adequately. She admits she talks a lot and so keeping her owners up to date with how their charges are coming along isn't a problem. Initial owners were John and Sally Alford and their early successes from the Ottery yard attracted many others. "We have been really lucky with owners, they are all nice people. I love talking to them. I don't care if it's not a super talented horse if the owners are nice!" she added. She does envisage having problems telling her jockeys how to ride her charges in races though. "I do need to learn how to give riding orders. At the moment I am rubbish, I just go on and on, but If you can ride a horse to get a trip it makes such a difference. It is important to choose the right jockey for each horse." Those likely to get the call from Gundry next season include Jenny Carr, Claire Allen, Will Biddick and Ian Chanin. When asked if she has a favourite horse she does at least pause for breath. She likes to do as well as she can with each horse and is not averse to putting in plenty of flatwork or hunting to keep a horse sweet. Robin Pike's impressive Rockwithacaveman, winner of five races this term, would rank highly as Gundry reckons he could shine at any discipline, be it racing, dressage or eventing. "When we got him he had an enormous block to the mobility in his neck. He was a real baby and wouldn't really go forward but we spent ages on flat work, circling and trotting over poles, and that seemed to do the trick. I think the best is yet to come from him." The Vickerys' Kiama also rates highly as the mare provided Polly with her first win under rules as a trainer. Kiama had been trained on the flat and over hurdles but was very headstrong and flatwork also managed to settle this one, who routinely used to gallop straight on off the end of the gallops when trained by Mark Johnston. "It makes a real difference how you train them and it's interesting working out which horse needs what to succeed." With the next point to point season due to start at the end of November she says that it is up to her owners if they want to get their horses ready for then. "I don't know how the NH trainers keep going in an all year 'season'" and she doesn't envisage turning to NH training unless things are still going well in 10 years' time. As they say, 'watch this space!'

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