Tactics the key over mile and a half trip

PUBLISHED: 10:11 26 April 2010 | UPDATED: 14:10 09 August 2010

Megan Nicholls, third in the 138 race on Merryment Topcat

Megan Nicholls, third in the 138 race on Merryment Topcat

The fog lifted in time for two exciting pony races at the Axe Vale point to point at Stafford Cross near Seaton (April 26).

The fog lifted in time for two exciting pony races at the Axe Vale point to point at Stafford Cross near Seaton (April 26). The 148 race was over one and a half miles and tactics really came into play. It is a great opportunity for the riders to learn how to ride a race rather than just kick on from the start.

The early leaders here faded while those who held their ponies up finished strongly. There is no pony rider at the moment with a better tactical brain than Bryony Frost and she has a willing partner in her impressive new pony Billie Jean. The pair held up in mid division before making their move down the back straight and pushing for home once the final bend was rounded. It was an exiting finish though as Charlotte Hawker on Tarka II and Hugo Hunt on Jack Sparrow pushed her hard all the way up the straight. The idea behind pony racing is for those who wish to go on to become jockeys to be able to hone their race riding skills from an early age. It is time now that those with a few seasons under their belt start to develop their style and think about the race in hand. This track is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

The 138 race saw a win for Wessex area rider Harry Cobden in a close finish with Barnaby Treneer on Talponciau Perfect Print, who produced his pony perfectly, and Megan Nicholls who was very stylish on Merryment Topcat. There was a first ride here for Georgie Selley, from the host hunt Axe Vale, whose mum and dad were mounted stewards. Hopefully she has been bitten by the bug and we see her out again soon. It will be a first and last season for her pony Gorgeous George though as he is 20.

Many thanks to George Welch who commentated in very difficult conditions - the ponies for the 138 were briefly spotted at the start but fog descended again and the bottom bend was out of sight for their race!

Sporting gestures should not go without mention and, as the race was oversubscribed, Bronze Lawrance and Bejowans Bouquet were reserves. When one place became available, leading rider Hannah Welch stood aside for Heidi Lewis to take up the remaining place. Don't underestimate the move - it has cost Hannah the lead in the area championship but has opened up the race for the championship in the last four meetings of the season.

Current championship standings: Barnaby Treneer (138) 63pts; Hannah Welch (138) 60; Chloe Grove (148) 48; Heidi Lewis (138) 47; Anna Wotton (138) 30; Chester Williams (148) 30.

AXE VALE results: 138: 1, Ninfield Millionaires Delight, Harry Cobden; 2, Talponciau Perfect Print, Barnaby Treneer; 3, Merryment Topcat, Megan Nicholls. 10 ran 2l hd, 1.23.

148: 1, Billie Jean, Bryony Frost; 2, Tarka II, Charlotte Hawker; 3, Jack Sparrow, Hugo Hunt. Eight ran, 5l, 3l, 3.01.

The next races are at Flete Park on Saturday (1pm).

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