A wet forecast did not deter plenty of racegoers from attending the popular Easter Bank Holiday point to point at Cothelstone and they were rewarded when the afternoon stayed sunny although a blustery wind dried the moisture from the course making it slightly tacky. Riding doubles for Will Biddick and Josh Newman, the continued upward surge of first season trainer Harry Ryall and another victory for the evergreen Southfield Theatre were highlights of the afternoon.
Will Biddick will be forever grateful to owner John Studd as their partnership blossomed from the very start after John sent Will Porlock Bay to be trained which culminated in a win in the Cheltenham Foxhunters two years ago. With that horse now retired, John seems to have provided a very decent replacement in the shape of Macklin who completed a hat-trick when taking the Mixed Open from Myth Buster following impressive wins at Charlton Horethorne and Cotley. Lily Bradstock adopted her customary front-running role on Myth Buster looking set to make the best use of the horse’s assured stamina. But Will sat quietly in second producing Macklin between the last two fences to win by just under a length. Will told a delighted John that the ex-French Macklin was now adjusting well to jumping the British fences although he had found the drying ground a little tacky. John who was accompanied by his wife Gill explained that he had bought Macklin at the Arqana sales in France as a yearling for little money because he had been on the small side. He had noted that he was related to Porlock Bay which had been the deciding factor.
Will’s second winner of the day came in the last when Ping Pong Paddy finally proved his ability matched his looks when coasting home by ten lengths from Frontieres Lad and Our Dylan for in-form trainer Chris Barber and his own Chris Barber Racing Club. A relieved Chris explained “I kept running him in the shorter maidens as I thought they were easier when in all probability he’s been crying out for the three miles especially now he’s that much stronger physically.” He hoped to run him next at Chilfrome in a couple of weeks and also added that it was all systems go for stable companion Famous Clermont who was set to run in the Foxhunters at Aintree on Thursday.
Another trainer who has his horses in great form is Harry Ryall who took the earlier maiden with Douglas Longbottom who had previously caught the eye when third at Charlton Horethorne. Although In Limbo had been sent off favourite, he was never travelling as easily as the winner who kicked clear under Josh Newman to record a ten length victory. Bought by the trainer after being led out unsold at Ascot Sales for the Trotters Partnership which includes Harry’s father Nick plus brother Dominic and friends Pete Dawson, Fraser Connolly and Jake Mellor. The partnership who are all fans of Only Fools and Horses, had travelled down by train from Doncaster that morning. The plan was to win here and then head to the Aintree Point to Point bumper in May. Harry, who was previously with the Barber yard, has now won with his last four runners which is a very accomplished feat for any trainer and even more so considering that he only started training this season.
Josh Newman completed his double when winning the Restricted on Between You And Me who he also trains. There was only a neck in it at the line as Josh just held on from Will Biddick on Coolattitude who had looked hard work for the entire last circuit and credit must be given to Will who persevered and forced such a close finish. Afterwards owner John Symes said how he had bought the horse at Doncaster Sales from the Chris Barber yard and he was “the one that got away!” Explaining his disappointing run at Cotley after a close second behind the promising Joe Cotton here the time before, John felt that the downhill at Cotley had not suited the horse who preferred a flatter track.
The Conditions race earlier on the card went to veteran Southfield Theatre who has now won 17 times for owner Angela Yeomans and trainer Sara Bradstock. Shouldering the welter-weight burden of 12 stone 10, this was a huge performance by the 15 year old and once sent into the lead by regular jockey Lily Bradstock he was never headed winning by a length and a half from outsider Palmaria. A beaming Sara Bradstock returned to the winner’s enclosure saying “he’s just the best, isn’t he?” She then went on to say it would be impossible to retire him as “he is crazy at home but if he’s allowed to do what he loves then he’s manageable and he just loves his racing!”
The earlier Conditions race was won by Acey Milan for trainer Anthony Honeyball ridden by Chad Bament for who this was a second winner of the season. This previously classy gelding had some decent form in the early part of his career including a fourth in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper but recently it had been decided to drop him into pointing and hunter chasing. A third at Exeter last month behind Envoye Special made it surprising that he wasn’t sent off favourite for his pointing debut. With Dr Rhythm and Fiston des Issards renewing rivalry however, the winner was sent off third best in the market and looked like he might have to settle for second when Chad managed to get Acey Milan to rally late on after looking to be headed by Dr Rhythm. Chad was surprised he had got back up and thought the winner may either stay pointing or run again in a Hunter chase next time.