The annual Brocklesby Point-to-Point races took place on Saturday at a rain soaked and muddy Brocklesby Park.
The official going was quickly changed from “good to soft, soft in places” to “soft” as the incessant rain affected the ground and tractors were needed to tow vehicles off the course.
Many racegoers braved the adverse conditions to see former top National Hunt star Punchestowns score in the Singleton Birch Men’s Open race. Returning to the racecourse after a two year absence, Punchestowns put up a brilliant display of jumping in the hands of Johnny Bailey and showed that his old enthusiasm for racing remains.
Local rider, Tom Strawson and Reach For The Top gave Punchestowns the most to do, running gallantly in defeat. After the race it was Alistair Forman from Singleton Birch who presented the trophy to a delighted Judy Wilson, owner of Punchestowns and Tom Strawson collected the Fighting Star Cup for being the first Brocklesby horse past the post.
Strawson came much closer to winning in the opening DDM Agriculture Brocklesby Member’s race when Geoff Hunter’s Pollyanna Steele was beaten by just a short head by Sam Klug and Awesome Arry. Pollyanna Steele was bought by Geoff Hunter at Doncaster Sales last August with this race in mind. She did however survive an eleventh hour mishap when on Tuesday she got loose in the fog and was missing for three hours only to turn up grazing on a lawn in Kirmington where she is trained.
Clare Doughty who has shared the work with Hunter won the best turned out prize and Hunter was awarded the Lilian Pickering achievement award for having helped with Point-to-Point meetings for 50 years. The winner, Awsome Arry was bought by Sam Klug as a yearling, and is trained by her at Ruckland near Louth.
Harry Burt from Riby finished third on Murphy’s Promise completing the course on his second attempt at race riding. “I’ve had a great ride round and it was the first time Murphy’s Promise has run so I wanted to look after him a bit. We will run him again but get someone else to ride him,” he said after the race. Harry Burt is the nephew of meeting secretary, Jenny.
Jill Dawson who has been overseeing the training of both Harry and Murphy’s Promise, was in the winners’ enclosure with her husband Mike after the AGA Ladies Open race. Palypso De Creek who had just one rival, Playing The Field, had been an intended runner in a Hunter Chase at Leicester the day before, but this event was certainly an easier assignment for the ten year old who was ridden by Claire Hart.
After the race Jill said; “We thought the ground wouldn’t be soft enough for us at Leicester, but then it rained so we missed out. We came here instead to race for £200 instead of the £10,000 prize fund at Leicester.” Palypso De Creek may run again next weekend to make the most of his preferred cut in the ground.
Yorkshire rider Jacqui Coward teamed up with her mum Cherry, to record a double. Firstly Bob Woodhouse’s Alforone scored in the Nunn’s Mitsubishi Ltd Restricted race, a race where just three of the eight runners completed the course in the testing conditions. In the Paul Wiseman Electrical Contractors Ltd Open Maiden race, it was Botany Cove who relished the soft ground beating Victoria Branson’s Ghost Charger, who is trained at Cadney near Brigg by Jane Kent.
All Great N Theory followed up his success at the South Wold meeting for owner and rider David Renney from Warwickshire in the Clark Weightman Midlands Area Member’s race and Lady Vicstar won the St Hughes Hospital Jockey Club PPORA Mare’s Maiden race.
At the end of the meeting Johnny Bailey was presented with the Lilian Pickering Memorial Perpetual Challenge Trophy for being the leading rider at the two Point-to-Points at Brocklesby Park this year.