THE Taunton Vale point to point meeting at Cothelstone on Easter Monday managed to survive after an inspection following more overnight rain plus a heavy downpour shortly before the first race.

With Easter eggs and hot-cross buns consumed, the once a year racegoers who make this an annual event in their calendars arrived in good numbers although those that turned up in trainers quickly saw the error of their ways amidst the liquid chocolate-brown mud which surrounded the paddock.  However the horses coped rather better with the conditions and spectators were treated to a riding/training double by Josh Newman, a consecutive course win for locally-trained Ninth Wave and a first ever winner for jockey James Dawkins.

The Conditions race saw a first win for 17 year old James Dawkins on Aheadfullofdreams who his mum, Lara Pope had purchased from trainer Dean Summersby as a “safe ride” for him to do some team chasing on.  Expressing a desire to have a go at pointing, James who is currently studying for his A Levels, had only had the one ride before when pulling up on the same horse at Badbury Rings in February.  Sent off the outsider of three, James dropped the horse to the rear of the trio behind the odds-on Ask Ben and Manofmanywords.  With the long-time leader Ask Ben understandably getting tired on this his first race in four years, it was left to James on Aheadfullofdreams to jump to the front two fences from home to record a 6 length victory. A beaming mum, Lara who herself used to ride as a jockey for Rod Baker and Oliver Carter, said “we didn’t think he’d cope with the ground today but he’s so genuine and just kept galloping. Huge thanks to Stuart Kittow and Chris Down who have let us use their gallops.”  James explained “I gave him a breather on the bottom bend to let him fill his lungs back up and it’s really helped him get home.”

With many trainers fearing the ground would hinder their chances, Ninth Wave who had proved he was genuine whatever the ground after his win here at the last meeting, endorsed that in the first race for owners Peter and Kathy Musgrave.  Once again facing 3 other runners, Ninth Wave comprehensively outclassed his rivals to record a facile 15 length win under jockey Callum Pritchard.  Kicking clear after bypassing the omitted open ditch, Ninth Wave still had enough in the tank to put in a fine jump at the last despite Callum saying how much he hated the ground.  Afterwards Kathy Musgrave said “this is so perfect! I’m a Quantock girl and we won the Members here last time and Peter is a Taunton Vale man and now we’ve won this, both in the same season…with the same horse!” Trainer Teresa Clark said “hopefully we will be able to run him next time on ground that he really does enjoy!”

The Mixed Open only fielded 4 runners and it was expected that Coup de Pinceau who is an out and out stayer would repeat his win from the last meeting. However Call Simon hadn’t read the script and sat at the rear of the quartet biding his time under Ella Herbison.  Timing her run to perfection, Ella produced Call Simon to challenge over the last and they went on to win by 5 lengths.  Trainer Robert Chanin explained “he’s just got the one run so he needs to come late which is exactly what she did on him.”  Owners Andrew and Sue Knox were full of praise for Robert saying “Call Simon is a lot of a character and Robert is the perfect horseman to persuade him how to behave properly!”  The plan next was to go back to Dunsmore subject to it being rearranged, as he has winning course form there.

The Restricted race went to Will Biddick on Chris Barber’s Blagthebookies, a good-looking son of Walk in the Park.  Although Frontieres Lad tried to make a race of it with two fences left to jump, the favourite had too much class and sauntered home to win by 12 lengths. Chris explained afterwards “He won a point in Ireland before going to Christian Williams where he didn’t show anything in 4 runs for him. But these were over 2 mile, 2 mile 3 hurdles and we just felt he’s every inch a 3 mile chaser physically. I’m tempted to run him under Rules myself and take advantage of what is a nice rating.”

Another making a winning debut after returning from an unsuccessful stint under Rules was Irlandais in the finale, the Maiden, when he came home alone under Josh Newman. Despite the ground, he jumped well and this was a much needed confidence boost for the horse. Josh’s partner Kayley explained afterwards: “He clearly has plenty of ability but hadn’t enjoyed running under Rules so we felt a switch to pointing might help. We just thought we’d let him enjoy himself for a bit and have a few more runs before eventually going back to a professional career.” 

Josh earlier initiated his double when he won the Maiden Conditions race on Important Notice for the Blackmore Racing Club. After sitting quietly at the back of the 6 strong field for most of the race, Josh sent the winner into the lead with two fences to jump and although All Night Parking threatened, he had enough to repel him by just over 2 lengths at the line. Josh had bought the son of Sholokhov for owners, the Blackmore Racing Club, to replace the mare, Love That who had won for them at Larkhill and since been sold. Important Notice, who has the mighty Denman in his pedigree, looks to be one to follow and it will be interesting to see where he goes next especially on better ground.