Umberleigh hosts an exceptional final point-to-point of the season

Crowds flock to point to points

Crowds flock to point to points - Credit: Archant

The point-to-point season drew to a close on Saturday, when the Torrington Farmers hosted their meeting at the popular course on the edge of Umberleigh, writes Donna Harris.

This meeting always draws a huge crowd, and this year was no different, with not only pointing followers, but many trainers and jockeys had travelled from afar to contest the six final races with championships still to be settled.

The club members race gave a thrilling start to the day with the Matt Hampton-trained Bohemian Rhapsody under young jockey Charlie Todd scoring one for the area.

It was Charlie’s first point-to-point win having graduated from pony racing where he had clocked up an impressive 86 winners.

He is now based at Ian Williams’s yard having spent some time at Paul Nicholls.

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“It’s a great win for Charlie. His father bought Bohemian Rhapsody for him at the start of the National Hunt season, and he was unlucky to be unseated last time out at Bratton,” stated trainer Matt Hampton.

The seven runners contesting the Kivells-sponsored Restricted race were all based out of the area. Gowell for trainer/jockey Byron Moorcroft had been sent off even money favourite and had set a good pace from the start until being joined over the final ditch by Midnight Queen who soon stretched to a five length lead over two out and went onto a comfortable win. Jockey Charlie Price, who rides out full time for Vaughan as an amateur jockey, commented: “She is a tough little mare, and jumped perfectly. Tim bought her off Bradley Gibbs.”

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Davisons sponsored the Men’s Open, which had only attracted four runners, with Big Man Doe for trainer Martin Wanless backed into odds on favourite, and did not disappoint his followers.

Under jockey Zak Baker, Big Man Doe had been sent off in front to set the pace and demonstrated some spectacular jumping. This could have cost him the race when Mr Sawyer (Bradley Gibbs) took up the running over the final ditch having stalked the leader at the start of the second circuit.

Then Mr Sawyer’s challenge came to an end when stalling over the second last, giving Big Man Doe’s jockey time to kick on staying on well to score a 15 length win. Seven lined up for the Nancekivell & Co-sponsored Ladies Open with There’s No Panic from the Biddick team claiming odds on favouritism. There’s No Panic under jockey Vicky Wade had given his backers a good run for their money but this race went the way of Rendezvous Peak whose jockey Alice Stevens was here to challenge for the National Ladies’ Novice Jockey title in which she was equal first with Isabel William, who is on holiday in Bali.

19 year-old Alice set the pace from the start, was never headed and justified her impressive six length win and gaining her title. There’s No Panic finished in second. The ditch had been bypassed on the second circuit, with jockey Jo Supple sustaining a heavy fall. We wish her well in her recovery.

The bookies took a hit on the well backed Joey Kangaroo in the Barum Stud-sponsored Intermediate race. Having opened at 2-1 Joey Kangaroo (David Mansell) was sent off at 4/6f.

Mansell had settled Joey Kangaroo at the back of the quartet and with Culverwell soon struggling to stay and a brief challenge by Fred Hutsby-trained Kinlochspelve, under jockey Sam Lee, Joey Kangaroo, who stands an enormous 17hh, soon ate up the ground with his long strides to assert over two fences from home, clocking up 54-year-old Mansell’s 202nd winner.

The final race of the day, the Smallridge Bros Ltd-sponsored Open Maiden Race, went the way of Tiverton based owner/ trainer/ jockey Kieran Buckley with The Boola Bee.

Having asserted over the second, and last going on to score by an impressive 15 lengths. Owned jointly by Kieran and his brother Tom who are based near Tiverton, their proud father Eddie commented: “We bought The Boola Bee out of Doncaster Sales in May this year. Tom is conditional and both Kieran and Tom work for Nigel Hawke; Kieran also rides for Jo Tickle.”

It was Kieran Buckley’s first runner and winner as a trainer, and he won the trophy for best riding performance of the day.

There ended another thrilling packed day of pointing marking the end of the current season.

The secretaries of the area wish to thank all of the sponsors and helpers for all the meetings who have made racing possible.

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