Though entries for the South Herefordshire Hunt point-to-point had initially looked rather sparse, there was a gratifying turnout of runners to reward the efforts of clerk of the course, Stan Turner and his team, who had worked so hard to restore the ground following the Ross Harriers fixture a fortnight ago. The ‘good to soft with heavy patches’ going dried perceptibly during the afternoon, and a very decent crowd enjoyed some hotly competitive racing.
Even the weather smiled, and those wrapped warmly against the anticipated chill felt over-dressed by the end of the glorious afternoon.
Five runners went to post for the Castlebrook Members race, with a cheerful undercurrent of rivalry amongst the riders. Dawn Woolf, the trainer of three of the horses in the race, led them with her handsome veteran, Wogan for over a circuit before an uncharacteristic mistake separated the partnership in a bone-rattling fall, leaving Dawn worryingly prone for some time.
James O’Reilly, aboard the grey eight year-old, Frosty Heights, rode a beautifully judged race for his second Members race victory at Garnons this year for the sponsor, John Chinn. “I bought him in Ireland,” explained John. “I did a deal with my wife- she was quite insistent that I hung up my racing boots this year- and I bargained that I could buy a couple to race as consolation!” Frosty Heights is trained by Chris Hooley, who with his wife Ann, have been responsible for so many winners in different disciplines over the years. Dreamisi, ridden by the inspirational Guy Disney was 6L runner up, with Dawn Woolf’s other charge, Station Island (James Nixon) in 3rd.
Dawn Woolf was taken to Hereford Hospital for precautionary x-rays on her neck, but was later discharged, stiff and sore, but in good spirits. “I can’t wait to try another spin!”
Nobby Kivambo (Mark Wall) excited the crowd with his customary front running tactics, but it was Clive Price’s charge, Oscar Delta (James Nixon) who asserted two fences from home and flew 12L clear of his rivals. Accrdingtopalm (Ellen Nicholas) stayed on into second, the gallant Nobby Kivambo 3rd, just ahead of Itsonlyalfie, giving Ryan Bradford a great first ride of the season.
The Cotswold Mini Ladies Open developed into a tactical match between family-owned horses Get It On (Sarah Bowen for Angela Rucker) and Well Mett (Phine Banks) following the dramatic departure of Miss Treacle (Sara Bowditch) at the open ditch. Get It On maintained the advantage, and was 41/2L clear at the line.
The TBA Mares Only race was a dogged win for Patrick Hanley’s charge, Neighbours Lady (Matthew Barber), who duelled grimly with former course winner, Midnight Mischief (Hannah Watson) for the whole race, holding on by a length and a half. Elms School Story, ridden for the first time by Lucy Turner, completed in 3rd.
Sheila Crow’s charge Fruit Fayre (Paddy Gerety) was sent off as warm favourite for The Cobb Amos Men’s Open race, despite it being her first outing of the season. However, James Ridley, who had partnered the useful Big Georgie to victory at the recent Ross Harriers Garnons meeting, rode an enterprising race to battle valiantly when Fruit Fayre challenged from the home bend, and got the verdict by a short head. Red Tortue (Mark Wall) ran a creditable race to be 3rd.
The Last Hour (Charley-Ann Rollason) made the early running in the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club race for Novice riders, but the Jonathon-Tudor trained Heavenstown cruised smoothly through in the hands of Richard Patrick two fences from home, and though Fred Timmis tried to rally the dour stayer, Upton Centurion, he could not get on terms to trouble the winner on the quickening ground. Kilmacallogue Bay and Emma Yardley were 7L 3rd.
Any novice from Sheila Crow’s yard has to be respected, and the imposing Againn Dul Aghaidh, a five year-old owned by her son Alastair, did not put a foot wrong with Paddy Gerety over the 21/2 miles of the Wye Valley Brewery maiden race, cantering 10L clear of Away Down West (Richard Patrick) and Sinour (Peter Bryan). Having been patiently produced, he looks full of promise for the future.
The next fixture in the Welsh Border area is the North Ledbury at Hereford Racecourse, first race 1pm, preceded by 2 Pony Races.