West Country trainers hold their own at Stratford's Hunters' evening
The Spring Point-to-Point season in the Wessex counties of Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset has been among the worst affected areas where organisers felt unable to stage fixtures. Just four fixtures have been staged since the resumption of the sport on March 29, during a period that would normally see more than double that number.
However, that hasn't proved a disincentive to handlers prepared to travel further north to the Midlands courses, or back west into Devon and Cornwall, traditionally a stronghold for the sport. Over a busy weekend's racing, some notable scalps have been taken.
The last Friday evening in May always heralds a cracking evening's racing at Stratford comprising the last of the season's Foxhunter classics, and six other well endowed hunter chases. For numbers of winners, the West Country shared honours with East Anglia, whose Law of Gold snaffled the Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunter Chase in good style from Bob And Co, trained by Paul Nicholls for leading amateur David Maxwell, and Monbeg Chitchat.
It was left to Jeremy Scott to salve West Country honour when 11 year old Keltus found enough on the run-in to outstay the Broadway-trained Zamparelli in the White Swan Hunters Handicap Chase, to follow up his previous victory in the John Dufosee Memorial Hunters cChase at Wincanton in mid-April.
Jeremy is one half of the husband and wife partnership that trained pointers for 15 years from Dulverton in Somerset, before taking the next step into Rules racing in 2007. Their 15 individual winners last term brought in 20 wins at £246,000 in prize money, including Dashel Drasher, whose 3 wins at Ascot culminated in the Betfair Ascot Chase in January. The capacity crowd of 2,000 at Stratford on Friday will testify that the horses are well cheered on by their travelling team, with shrieks that carried to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre a half mile distant!
The concluding race of the evening was won by Bridgwater-based Teresa Clark, whose Fountains Chief improved his bumper form to win the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Point-to-Point Bumper from well-backed Latenightfumble, representing the home county of Warwickshire.
Meanwhile, Richard Hawker produced the aptly named Gentleman Farmer to win a novice riders race at the South Tetcott yesterday, his ninth winner between the flags.
And amongst the upper echelons of the sport, Neil Mulholland has his string in fine form presently, manifested by winners at Ffos Las on Saturday and Fontwell on Sunday, where Carolines Charm justified evens favouritism in the feature handicap chase under Robbie Dunne to bring up Mulholland's eighth winner of this new season.