Jordan Venant was overjoyed after Cuban Piece gave him a winner on his first ride with victory at the Old Berkshire Hunt meeting at Lockinge, near Wantage, yesterday.
The 21-year-old, who works at nearby Sparsholt for National Hunt trainer Harry Whttington, took up the running from long-time leader Golan Guy at the second-last fence in the opening members’ race, before forging clear to beat that rival by 15 lengths.
“It’s unbelievable – absolutely unbelievable,” said Venant. “Don’t get me wrong the horse saved me so many times round there.
“He was great. He was unreal. He was an absolute machine and it is just such an amazing experience.”
Cuban Piece is trained by Whittington’s mother, Joanna, with her son listed as the owner, although he explained that the six-year-old belonged to his girlfriend, Alice Etchells, who was in South Africa at the time the form had to be filled in.
Harry commented: “Jordan said his dream was to ride in a race, and I said ‘if you work hard you’ll get the opportunity’, and he has done nothing but work hard, so I’m very proud of him.
“My only ever winner was for my mother on Old Road at Kingston Blount in 1997. It’s her first winner for 17 years and her first runner for 17 years, so it’s very exciting.”
John Daniell, named after the champion point-to-point rider who died last year at the age of 91, landed the mixed open for Bath trainer Ollie Bush and her jockey daughter, Amanda, by ten lengths from Arkendale.
Recalling her mount’s namesake, Amanda said: “He was as tough as old boots and this horse is the same.”
An estimated crowd of between 7,000 and 8,000, including former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont, saw The Big Freeze rally on the run-in for owner-rider Charlie Dando to beat Loose Preformer by three-quarters of a length in the confined.
James King notched a winner on his first ride aboard Present-andcorrect when taking the Point-to-Point Owners & Riders’ Association Club Members’ race for veteran and novice riders 12 months ago.
And he doubled his tally by repeating the victory with a 15-length romp on the Tim Sage-owned and trained 13-year-old.
Owner-rider James Seivwright also posted his second winner when giving the Peter Mason-trained Kilcrea Mill an enterprising front-running ride to take the open maiden by three lengths from Nightscape.
Burtolli Boy, trained by Fred Hutsby at Ettington, near Stratford, held off Triggers Ginger by a length to take the restricted under Tom Ellis.
Members: 1 CUBAN PIECE (J Venant) 7-4 fav, 2 Golan Guy 2-1, 3 Kilbricken House 9-1. Trainer: J Whittington. Dist: 15l, dist. 4 ran.
Confined: 1 THE BIG FREEZE (C Dando) 4-1, 2 Loose Preformer 5-2. Trainer: D Dando. Dist: ¾l. Only two finished. 6 ran.
Mixed open: 1 JOHN DANIELL (A Bush) 10-11 fav, 2 Arkendale 9-4, 3 Himalayan Express 3-1. Trainer: O Bush. Dist: 10l, 3l. 4 ran.
PPORA Club Members (veteran & novice riders): 1 PRESENTANDCORRECT (J King) 9-4 jt fav, 2 Lurgan 22-1, 3 Rossbrin 7-1. Trainer: T Sage. Dist: 15l, ½l. 7 ran.
Restricted: 1 BURTOLLI BOY (T Ellis) 11-4, 2 Triggers Ginger 7-2, 3 Ballinla 9-4. Trainer: F Hutsby. Dist: 1l, 4l. 5 ran.
Open maiden: 1 KILCREA MILL (J Seivwright) 9-2, 2 Nightscape 5-2 fav, 3 Midnight Sizzler 3-1. Trainer: P Mason. Dist: 3l, 1l. 7 ran.