Heard’s three winners not enough to clinch novice title

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THE Torrington Farmers’ Hunt provided their traditional closing fixture to the British point-to-point season at Umberleigh. Heavy showers led to quite testing conditions and the poached area on the landing side of the final fence meant that this was omitted in all six races.

Whilst most of the National championships had already been decided, the North Devon finale produced an exciting climax to the male novice riders’ title, with Micheal Nolan and Michael Heard each striving to raise their game during the afternoon.

18-year-old Heard, based in Richard Woollacott’s pointing yard, started the final day three winners behind Nolan, who is with Philip Hobbs, for the National title. A quick-fire treble in the first three races meant level pegging between the pair half way through the day with 15 winners each.

Paddy The Piper has done the Heard family proud this season, and the veteran pointer notched his sixth win of the campaign in the opening Confined race. Michael’s waiting tactics paid off and he was able to fend off the renewed challenge of this year’s champion jockey Richard Burton on Here’s Johny. 14-year-old “Paddy” has walked away with the local veteran horse title for the Heard family. Michael’s father John trains him and his mum Sandra and Grandfather Ken are joint owners.

Mike Bickell’s Greenock soon followed up for the youngster in the Restricted, before Heard and Nolan fought out a head bobbing finish to the Men’s Open. The verdict went to Michael Heard on Roll On Rose, who held on tenaciously to hold the persistent challenge of Chiaro. Odds-on favourite Lady Myfanwy finished a creditable third under Richard Burton after her hard season. The winning jockey’s instructions were not to hit the front until approaching the last, but the mare gained ground at all her fences: “she jumped her way to the front and was like lightning”, reported the rider.

Just when it looked as though the title would be shared with 15 winners each, Micheal Nolan conjured up another winner when Three Half Crowns got up to win the Intermediate by the shortest of short heads. Nolan this time had the ladies’ novice champion Bridget Andrews to contend with, and just got home after switching his mount when short of room on the run-in. That was nothing compared with a brilliant acrobatic recovery from the Irish jockey down the back straight for the final time. “I thought I was going to hit the ground when he pecked. He head-butted me when recovering and I lost my iron”, was the modest post-mortem conducted by Micheal after the race. The winner is owned by Michael and Sue Hayes, and trained by Cherry Winzer at Oakford near Bampton.

Despite missing out on the national title, Michael Heard took the Devon & Cornwall novice riders’ award, finishing two points ahead of Micheal Nolan, as this title is decided on a points basis awarded to winners and places at the 28 Devon & Coprnwall area fixtures. Jo Buck has secured the area ladies’ title this year, and ended her season by finishing runner-up on Doof in the Ladies’ Open behind the easy winner Oca De Thaix. This tough nine-year-old had made a successful long distance journey to Bratton Down last Sunday, (June 12) and this time the 440 miles return trip from Keith Goldsworthy’s Tenby yard provided an easy follow up under 18-year-old Charlotte Evans.

The form book went out of the window in the final event of the season when 16-1 chance Kyrano made all the running to give Ed Barrett his 10th winner of the season. Nine-year-old Kyrano is a long standing maiden who had failed to finish in seven of his eight outings this year. He is owned jointly by Ellie Batten and her uncle Peter Isaac and trained by Ellie at Horton near Badminton.

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