FOLLOWING a rare and beautiful display from the Aurora Borealis overnight across Exmoor, the picturesque course at Holnicote seemed determined to continue this theme at its point to point meeting on Sunday, writes Kirsty Boutflower.

Bathed in glorious sunshine, punters and families and even a 30 plus French contingent from Longny-au-Perche in Normandy, arrived en masse to enjoy some excellent racing with over 50 runners resulting in first time wins for two jockeys, Ashley Dascombe and Ollie Chamings, winners for National title contenders, James King and Izzie Marshall, and a training double for Warwickshire-based Julie Wadland.

Ashley Dascombe got a huge reception returning to the winner’s enclosure on Canastero after getting the better of Will Biddick and Beau du Brizais to take the Members race by nearly two lengths.  With the six runners tightly grouped, Ashley stalked the odds-on favourite in a bid to turn the tables having finished third to him last year.

Hitting the front with two to jump, the new application of blinkers to Canastero seemed to galvanise improvement and although Beau du Brizais tried hard to rally, they held on for a popular local win. 

The Novice Riders race can often throw up a surprise and when Westhill who had been errant throughout the race unseated at the last, jockey Ollie Chamings capitalised on his good fortune to record a first victory and realise his ambition, to ride a winner which his dad, Nigel, had never done. 

Trainer Julie Wadland was saddling her 6th winner of the season when Lagan Valley took the Mixed Open in a close finish which went to the judge as he and favourite, Ninth Wave flashed past the post together.  With Izzie Marshall determinedly making a bid for the National Lady Jockeys Championship, they were level over the last and the 3lbs he received from the runner-up may have made the difference as the distance was given as a short-head. 

Julie’s second winner came in the penultimate, the Restricted, when her mare, Bushtucker Park benefitted from the lightning-quick pace set by long-time leader, Myunclecharlie, who was 20 lengths clear at one stage, and she was the only one who could land a blow under James King. 

James closed the leader down with 4 fences to jump and slipped the remainder of the field to coast home by 25 lengths. 

Cameron Johnstone-Baker was riding his second career winner when taking the Conditions race on his family-owned Ocean Drifter who was making his pointing debut.  A winner of a point in Ireland, he then went on to win over hurdles for Oliver Sherwood for whom Cameron worked for two "amazing” years. After some time on the side-lines, he was given to Cameron at the start of the year. 

Trainer Harry Ryall was busy calculating points in the paddock as he welcomed Scoresby back in after the last race, an Intermediate. Currently vying with Julie Wadland for the Wessex smaller trainer’s title, this was a welcome winner for the team and their sixth within the Area this season and there is now half a point between the two.  Scoresby has now contributed twice to that total following wins at Milborne St Andrew and here for his emotional owner Bob Butler.

A horse that would soon be heading off to the sales was Maiden winner, Jimmy Hurdstrom trained by Eamonn O’Donnabhain, head lad for Tom Lacey. A nicely-bred son of Order of St George, he was bought at the Landrover Sale and would now go to Doncaster to be sold.

The racing had been preceded by a Charity race which was won in convincing fashion by Emma Landau on The Raven’s Return.