Spring momentarily disappeared last Sunday as a chilly temperature returned to greet those attending the Cotley Point to Point. However a good sized crowd were not put off and they were treated to an excellent day's racing. Seven races were effectively reduced to six due to a walkover but an impromptu Hound race was put on plus two exciting Pony races one of which resulted in the closest finish of the day and the judge had no choice but to call a dead heat.
There are many who feel that point to pointing is moving away from its roots but that couldn't have been further from the truth with the result of the third race, a maiden for younger horses. Sent off at odds of 25-1 Auld Sport who hadn't managed to complete in 4 previous outings in the UK showed he hadn't read the form book and in an incident packed race won in a tight finish from the only other finisher Flutiste. For jockey Josh Cameron this was only his second ever winner and trained by a very modest Richard Morgan, "I bought him unseen from Ireland in desperation last year to replace another horse – he shows nothing at home but can jump really well!" The Golan gelding is owned by the Dartmoor Racing Club, all members of the Dartmoor Hunt and all training fees are donated by the trainer to hunt funds to serve as an innovative fund raiser for the Hunt. Auld Sport himself hunts regularly and is schooled and galloped at home by the trainer's children Otis and Arte who both compete in Pony Races.
The only favourite to win during the afternoon was the classy looking Crown of Thorns ridden by Will Biddick who took the Conditions Race by a cosy 3 lengths for trainer Sarah Pidsley. Owned by Sarah's parents Michael & Judith this was the perfect Mother's Day present. Bought by Sarah at Doncaster sales, Crown of Thorns comes from the family of 1983 Champion Hurdle winner Gaye Brief and may end up to be very well bought. Will confirmed "he was very green in front but jumped well and is a lovely horse." Sarah felt he needed time between his races but may go to Trebudannon at Easter. He looks an exciting horse for the future.
Will Biddick had to settle for second in the opener, the Restricted race when jockey Thomasina Eyston survived a mistake at the last to drive Missyladie to a 3 length success from Journey Juice and Minella Rising. Part-owner Tessa Clarke explained the mare "has a turbo button that Tommi just has to press!" The jockey is on a Gap year before she takes up a place at University probably in Dublin but has spent time at Dan Skelton's and also David Pipe's where she still rides out.
The Men's Open was won by Mountain Cliché ridden by Darren Andrews who sealed the race with a fine jump at the last to outpoint According to Harry and Act of Synergy. Trainer Nick Dawe said afterwards "he is such a nice horse who has been plagued with leg problems and I nearly retired him after Cothelstone. He's so genuine and although he loves this quicker ground, I have to be careful of his legs. Darren gets on with him so well and actually gave me my first winner under rules."
The Ladies Open was won by Purple'n Gold owned by the 8 strong "Here Come The Girls Partnership" who insist it's an all-female affair with Lisa Jefford as trainer and Millie Wonnacott as jockey. Millie gave the former Flat winner an excellent ride using his Flat speed to pull clear of Exclusive Rights. The ladies have been in partnership for over ten years and used to have Delta Borget who is now enjoying his retirement hunting on Dartmoor and "loving life."
Welsh trainer Luke Price rarely makes a visit to the West Country for no reason and his Deshan convincingly took the Open Maiden under Byron Moorcroft from Dancing Dave and The Dartmoor Rose. Making all the running, Deshan was never headed and although connections were not sure he would enjoy the stiff track, he may be seen next at Andoversford.
The closing Pony races included a thriller which resulted in a dead heat between Dillans Girl (Jack Brace) and Clear the Track (Tyler Fisher) while the second race was a rout by favourite Class Act Annie under Freddie Gingell.