GLORIOUS winter sunshine greeted racegoers to the only point-to-point in the country to survive the weather at the Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge on the first Sunday in January, writes Granville Taylor.

The going was quite testing after the recent wet spell, but the fact that racing went ahead drew a couple of Max Comley’s intended squad of four from the abandoned Alnwick, Northumberland, fixture to Cornwall.

The Cotswold-based trainer struck first in impressive style with nine-year-old Wagner in the colours of Charlie Noell in the eight-runner Mixed Open. 

James King had the Mahler gelding handy throughout, coming home with six lengths to spare over Wind Tor, with odds-on favourite and course specialist Singapore Saga not firing today, back in third.

“We re-routed from Alnwick but this looked a tougher race. I wasn’t sure but James (King) persuaded me to come here. This horse has benefited from a wind op in the summer and liked the twists and turns here. There are no immediate plans for him but he will not go to Cheltenham or Aintree,” said Comley.

It didn’t take long for the Comley/King combination to follow up as Jay Bee Whiskey became the trainer’s seventh pointing winner of the season (the last five consecutively) when taking a good eight-runner Restricted.

Backed from evens to 1-2, King’s mount travelled comfortably, shaking off second favourite Learntalot (Izzie Marshall) on the bottom bend before getting the better of Stadmallen (Heidi Stevens) in a slogging match up the final climb. 

King’s mount edged markedly right after jumping the last and had to survive a stewards’ enquiry into interference with the runner up. 

“He is a fun little horse and this is his third win this season. He will probably have a five or six- week break now,” remarked the Naunton trainer, but I thought I detected a grunt from owner Kevin Crawford at this plan! 

King has made a flying start to the season with a dozen winners in the bag in his bid to wrestle the jockeys’ title back from Will Biddick.

Rian Corcoran is a young West Country jockey just starting his career this season, and landed his second victory on Itacare in the Level Two Conditions race for novice riders. 

Owned by Somerset Racing and trained by Rian’s father, ex-jockey Liam Corcoran, the grey jumped well and ran on strongly under a stylish ride to overcome Wireless Operator (Oliver Chamings). Itacare was following up his course win before Christmas. 

“It all went according to plan,” reported the jockey, who is based with Biddick and is evidently learning quickly under the champion jockey’s guidance. 

Jongleur D’Ainay strolled away with the nine-runner Maiden for four to six-year-olds in the hands of Izzie Marshall. 

A rangy five-year-old purchased out of Tom Weston’s yard at Goffs Doncaster sales last May for £5,000, the French-bred drew clear of his rivals, jumping the third last to score by a cosy eight lengths. 

The gelding, who was overcoming a 10-month absence after his sole run at Charlton Horethorne last year, is owned in partnership between Jake Exelby and his trainer Alan Hill. 

Jake’s day job entails three days a week at the point-to-point authority office at Shrivenham. 

“I have had horses with Alan since 2012. Today happens to be my birthday and Rick Stein’s Padstow restaurant is already booked.” 

Jake is also a fellow scribe, turning out excellent copy on all aspects of the sport.

Only four turned out for the older horses Maiden, and this was quickly reduced to three when 1-3 favourite Takeabid ploughed through the first and catapulted Darren Andrews out of the saddle. There was also excitement at the business end featuring a neck-and-neck duel which saw Go Whatever (Barnaby Treneer) just overcoming front-running Rockhamton (Patsy Page). 

Barnaby Treneer was enjoying his fourth career success on the winner, who carried the family colours, and is trained by his mother Deborah. 

The 25-year-old rider recently qualified as an accountant in London and said: “We bought this horse through Tracey Brown at Ascot last June for £5,500. He didn’t show much over hurdles for JP McManus but is a half brother to Bellshill (former Irish Gold Cup winner).”

Favourite backers also suffered a reverse in the Hunt race when 2-5 chance Jubertilee finished last of the three runners behind Fine Investment. In a slowly run affair, Myles Osborne kicked on down the hill on the far side and had enough in reserve to hold off Share A Moment. 

The 22-year-old rider, partnering his second winner of the season, also trains the nine-year-old  at Bourton On The Water for his mother Kay Jelbert.  

After lots of hugs between them Myles said: “My late grandmother originally bought this horse as a yearling. It is quite an emotional win. He has had lots of issues since running well as a youngster in two bumpers.”