THE weather was kind as the Black Forest Club fixture opened the new point-to-point season on Sunday, writes Granville Taylor.

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A healthy total of 53 runners contested the seven races. Joint secretary Linda Courtney said: “We have a very good crowd here and the course is in great condition for our traditional opening to the Devon and Cornwall season.”

The useful hunter chaser Penmore Mill travelled from Warwickshire to take the Mixed Open, jumping superbly under Tom Ellis before drawing clear of front running Charles Bruce in the closing stages to score impressively.

The winner’s owner Ken Hutsby feels that his eight-year-old is better on faster ground: “He is not fully fit yet since he has not done a lot of work but we wanted to give him a point-to-point run. The current plan is for a Taunton hunter chase next month.”

The Hutsby family always do well at this early meeting and the yard quickly followed up when Burtolli Boy won the first section of the three miles maiden in good style. Fred Hutsby saddled this promising six-year-old to give stable jockey Tom Ellis a quick fire double. The winner is owned by Leicestershire based John Burton who said, “We bought him three years ago in Ireland and we keep him at home before he goes into training with Fred. I ride him at home and so does my daughter Anna.”

Testoftime made all to win the other division to provide a memorable occasion for his jockey Mikey Walton, who was having his first ever race ride. Cork born Mikey, who celebrated his 19th birthday the day before, works for Jonjo O’Neill. Testoftime is owned and trained by Seamus Mackey who is based at Butcombe near Bristol airport. “We bought Testoftime privately last May. He had a few runs in Ireland but needed a trip. He is the only horse I have in at present but there are two more to come in,” said the trainer, who was also sending out his first winner.

The maiden for younger horses produced a local victory thanks to the Kayley Woollacott trained Mr Bingley, owned by John and Floss Symes and ridden by Jamie Thomas. In an amazing incident five of the seven runners failed to negotiate the first fence when the two leaders refused and baulked most of their opponents. In a scene reminiscent of Foinavon’s famous Grand National, jockeys shuffled round and most of the field set off again. It was Mr Bingley who eventually took the prize to the relief of favourite backers.

Thirteen of the 14 runners in the Restricted finished the course with 25-year-old Sam Painting steering Credit Crunched to a very easy success: “It is lovely ground out there,” commented the jockey who rides out for Marcus Foley near Swindon. Credit Crunched is trained by Laura Thomas on behalf of her father Norman.

It would not be Black Forest without a strong Welsh contingent and two trophies found their way home across the Severn Bridge. The Llangeinor qualified Cock of the Rock held on well under Bradley Gibbs to take the Club race in the colours of David Brace. “We take him to the beach and he is very fit,” said Robbie Llewelyn on behalf of the absent owner who is on holiday in Barbados.

The Llangeinor supplied the winner and runner up in the Intermediate when Tachbury made all to beat the favourite Waddingtown Hero by six lengths. The winner is owned and trained by Julie Williams near Bridgend and was partnered by Ed Barrett.

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