A LARGE Bank Holiday crowd saw 16-year-old Jake Launchbury, from Bourton-on-the-Water, ride his first winner on Smugglers Run in the Novice Riders' Race at Monday’s North Cotswold point-to-point at Paxford.
Smugglers Run was beginning to close the gap on pacesetting Basil Fawlty when the long-time leader and his jockey parted company at the fourth from home.
However, with the race at his mercy, Smugglers Run's stride suddenly began to shorten after the second from home and it needed all his young jockey's skills to withstand the challenge of Karasakal in the closing stages.
The winner is owned by the rider’s mother Leanne and is stabled with Andrew Campbell at Condicote.
The Launchbury family is based in Bourton-on-the-Water, where Jake is currently studying for his GCSEs at the Cotswold School.
He is following in the footsteps of former pupils Sam Twiston-Davies and Tom Bellamy who also rode in point-to-points but are now making a name for themselves under National Hunt Rules.
There was another success for Condicote when The Snickett, trained by James Richardson, won the 8-year-old and over Maiden.
Tully Donnell Flyer went a couple of lengths clear of The Snickett approaching the 17th, but Tom David kept preserving on the eventual winner and the complexion of the race changed dramatically between the final two fences.
The Snickett regained the advantage approaching the last and drew clear as his rival ran out of puff on the flat.
Richardson has always thought a lot of this horse but was becoming increasingly exasperated that he had not managed to win a race, and admitted there would have been a rethink of the horse's future if he had not won this contest.
The Condicote trainer owns the eight-year-old with his brothers Thomas and Edward and their sister Hannah.
Anybody who backed the odds-on favourite Scenic Route in the Members' Race owes a debt of gratitude to Coln Rogers jockey Mark Wall. The winner jumped right at many fences losing several lengths in the process.
Archie Bellamy and Esteem were 20 lengths clear with three fences to jump but they began to tread water at the 17th. A Scenic Route victory still looked unlikely as they started off up the run-in, but Wall has not been the Area Champion for the last four years for nothing and he galvanised his mount for a final effort and they passed their tiring rival in the shadow of the post to win by three-quarters of a length.
Wall said: “I thought they had gone off too fast and Esteem was better a shorter distances under Rules so I thought he would tire, but he lasted longer than I anticipated.”