The Crawley and Horsham Hunt celebrated 60 years of racing at its Parham course in style on Saturday when the rain stayed away and there was good racing and plenty to entertain the crowds.
Grand National winning jockey, Bob Champion, whose cousins had ridden at Parham with success in the past, was there to present prizes and join former trainers, jockeys and owners for a commemorative photograph, to go with the 50th anniversary photograph taken ten years ago.
It was fitting that the opening race was won in style by local amateur rider Jody Sole, whose JS Equestrian Centre is based at Dragons Green, not far from Parham. Jody was riding his new horse Theophrastus, now 12, bought at the sales this season. The victory also gave him his first winner as a point to point trainer.
Theophrastus had been pulled up on his earlier outing this season in a point to point on ground that didn’t suit him, but won the Hunt Members, Subscribers and Farmers race on Saturday running away from the rest of the field. He had taken a commanding lead, before the final bend having jumped well throughout.
Owned by Jody’s fiancee Abby Drury, Ms V Wiltshire and Ms S Davies, he overturned favourite Crazy Eyes and was a popular winner.
A long trip from Ludlow paid off for trainer Victoria Collins, who sent out seven-year-old Minella For Party to secure victory in the Tim Dunlop Memorial Restricted Race under an excellent ride from Hannah Watson.
Victoria explained: ” I bought him from Dan Skelton’s yard and he didn’t like being in a busy racing yard, but has settled well with me and has great potential. He will reward his owners,Sarah Dawson and Felicity Ashfield. He will stay three miles.”
Favourite Adept Approach fell in the Harwoods Mixed Open Race, but first past the post, Rear Gunner, trained at Brightling by Rose Grissell with sister Hannah in the saddle, had seemed a certain winner throughout.
Alan Cowing explained: ” We bred this horse, out of our mare Nethertara and he began his racing career in points to points and then raced under Rules, trained by members of the Grissell family. Now in the twilight of his racing career he has returned to point to pointing and we are delighted with his win today.”
Rear Gunner, again ridden by Hannah Grissell had previously taken the Ladies’ Open at Charing earlier this month when setting the fastest time for the day.
The Members Conditions Race was won by Showman, trained by Mark Dilworth and ridden by Oz Wedmore of Brightling, East Sussex. Oz is a student and works for trainer Nicky Henderson. Trainer Nick Pearce continued his run of successes when He’s A Black Sheep, ridden by Philip Hall, took the closing Open Maiden Race.
Pony racing had taken place before the start of the main races, and young Petworth rider Daniel Batchelor (15) won the Bill Kear Plant Open Race for ponies 0f 138 cm and under and riders aged 9-16 on board Churchill, owned by his mother Alison. She trains National Hunt horses and Daniel’s aim is to become a jockey and last season he rode the pony to become the South East 138cm champion.The 148cm and under pony race was won by There She Goes ridden by Izzie Marshall (14).