TWENTY-THREE-year-old Frances Poole and One to Note caused a major surprise when beating the odds-on favourite Ned the Post in the Members Race during the Berkeley Point-to-Point at Woodford, writes Peter Mansell.
Our Joicey and Jamie McGuire led for much of the contest before they were joined by Ned the Post turning back towards home.
George Humphreys' mount got the better of the battle with Our Joicey approaching two out, where One to Note was breathing down their necks in third.
Miss Poole produced her mount with a well-timed run to challenge Ned the Post between the final two fences and it appeared the more experienced partnership might gain the day.
There was little between the two horses at the final obstacle but One to Note’s jockey maintained her composure and drove her mount out for a half length success.
This was a first success for Frampton Cotterell-based Poole from just a handful of rides and was a shot in the arm for those small stables, whose support and enthusiasm is the backbone of the sport.
What A Bluff has been under a cloud since last year, but there were no signs of ring rustiness after Jane Williams' mount had beaten off a nine-strong field to land the Restricted.
The seven-year-old had several options over the weekend but connections eventually chose Woodford, a course where they have enjoyed success in the past.
Miss Williams had her mount glued to the running rail throughout the race and was sat on the leaders' coat-tails as Gift of Dreams, The Winking Prawn and Raffa led coming into the home turn.
With The Winking Prawn losing contact, the three leaders rose as one at the penultimate before What A Bluff strode clear between the final two fences to win by six lengths.
The first and last races were won by horses who most seasoned observers say have bright futures at a much higher level.
Tom Lacey had sold two of his winning Point-to-Pointers at Cheltenham Sales the previous day, and will no doubt repeat this policy with Mr Dinosaur, who took the $ & 5 year old Maiden with astonishing ease.
Auckland de Re and the favourite had the race to themselves all the way up the home straight before Mr Dinosaur sauntered home to win with his head in his chest.
Chatting with Lacey afterwards, National Hunt trainer Charlie Brooks commented “He’s a monster. Anything less than that you would have been disappointed with. He’ got an air about him”, while the winning jockey commented “he could have gone round three more times”. Praise indeed.
Graham Roache's colours are familiar features in the landscape at all the major racing festivals and he looks to have a useful prospect on his hands judging by It’s A Close Call's performance in the 3-mile Maiden.
The horse’s starting price had drifted out before the start of the race - which was a little disconcerting - but his supporters never had a moment's concern during the race itself.
With just My Alfie for company in the closing stages Will Biddick's mount strode clear with a ground devouring stride up the run in to win by an almost embarassing 20 lengths.
“You could have held onto him a bit longer to make a race of it” joked some of his connections afterwards, to which the jockey replied “I couldn’t go any slower”. Self deprecation in a winner is always nice to hear.
A half hour or so before that Biddick had steered the Keith Cummings trained Certain Flight to an easy win in the Mens Open.
With three of the five runners in the Ladies Open (including the favourite, Horsham Lad) coming from West Midlands stables, hopes were high for another local success, but Amanda Bush and How’s My Friend proved too strong for Stonemaster and Horsham Lad.