Sunshine and a warm welcome in Wales as Jodie Hughes bags her first ever AGA win

This was a mammoth trip and the original (and sensible) plan had been to travel down to Wales the day before,  but we decided to have Easter Sunday lunch at home with the family (well, when I say we, what I really mean is that Mrs S decided!). Having said that it was a good choice and lunch was superb, however, that meant an early start on Easter Monday morning, and I was flying solo!

Charlotte Evans - an AGA finalist during our first season
Charlotte Evans – an AGA finalist during our first season

I was ‘flying solo’ because Mrs S was feeling under the weather and I set off armed with plenty of music and a packet of Opal Fruits! Of course, there is no such thing any more as they are now called Starburst, but they will always be Opal Fruits in my eyes! Anyway, for all of you youngsters reading this, here’s a blast from the past:

Millenary Magic wins the Members for Paul Tolman and Jodie Hughes
Millenary Magic wins the Members for Paul Tolman and Jodie Hughes

And they were ‘made to make your mouth water’ … right, that’s enough about 70’s sweets, let’s get back on track and talk about the racing. Comeback kid Jodie Hughes was quick off the mark and followed up her win in the Confined at Pyle on Easter Saturday with a tidy win in the Members race.

Millenary Magic is trained by Jodie's fiance, Paul Tolman
Millenary Magic is trained by Jodie’s fiance, Paul Tolman
There was a kiss for Jodie from her nice, Ffion
There was a kiss for Jodie from her nice, Ffion

The win was a popular one for this bubbly local lass, and her dad, Graham (owner), and her fiancé, Paul (trainer) were cock-a-hoop!

Proud dad!
Proud dad!
Happy scenes, and it set the tone for the rest of the day!
Happy scenes, and it set the tone for the rest of the day!
The Honourable Secretary, Jan Mathias
The Honourable Secretary, Jan Mathias

The Open Maiden winner, Dream Bolt, was the first leg of a treble for John Mathias, although Jodie was back down to earth with a bump and made her way back to the paddock on foot (below).

A bit bruised but ready to go again!
A bit bruised but ready to go again!

We had 4 good ‘uns declared from the 14 entries so we were guaranteed a decent race, with Watch The Birdie (Hannah Lewis) sent off as odds-on favourite.

Sumak, the ride of Emma Moseley, had refused to start in our race at Bitterley the previous weekend
Sumak, the ride of Emma Moseley, had refused to start in our race at Bitterley the previous weekend
Hannah Lewis was in good spirits, and had her eye on some more AGA championship points
Hannah Lewis was in good spirits, and had her eye on some more AGA championship points
Steph Rogers & Teenage Kicks
Steph Rogers & Teenage Kicks

They’re tough in Wales! Teenage Kicks had only raced 2 days earlier, finishing 2nd in the Ladies Open at Pyle, and this was to be his 6th start since the beginning of March.

Teenage Kicks jumps just ahead of Sumak
Teenage Kicks jumps just ahead of Sumak
Eventual winner, Pathian Prince (light green) and Watch The Birdie
Eventual winner, Pathian Prince (light green) and Watch The Birdie
Heading out on the final circuit
Heading out on the final circuit

I was chatting to Carl Evans at Sandon on Saturday and had remarked that the fairytale result in the AGA race today would be a win at her local track for Jodie Hughes. Well guess what? She only went and did it!

Jodie had to avoid a loose horse (Teenage Kicks) at the last
Jodie had to avoid a loose horse (Teenage Kicks) at the last

This was a first ever AGA win for Jodie and it was greeted with joyous scenes in the winners enclosure, with connections and family joining in the celebrations.

See you all at Stratford for the AGA final!
See you all at Stratford for the AGA final!
I knew that Welsh flag would come in handy!
I knew that Welsh flag would come in handy!

The lady who is often referred to as ‘Mrs Point-to-Point’, Cynthia Higgon, very kindly presented mementoes to Eric & Dorothy Clough, and of course Jodie, and I think she enjoyed it!

The Mens Open winner, Changing Lanes (John Mathias)
The Mens Open winner, Changing Lanes (John Mathias)

The tally for the day was three wins for John Mathias, two for Jodie, and a win each for Bradley Gibbs and Rachel Leyshon, while Ben Jones and Connor Brace took the two pony races.

Emma & Jenny were pleased with their hats
Emma & Jenny were pleased with their hats
What a lovely couple!
What a lovely couple!

It was a bit warm for AGA hats today but the girls were happy to pop them on for photos (it’s the law), and the new colours went down well, just ask Jenny Price!

Dai Jones said riding them was easier than leading up!
Dai Jones had his hands full leading up and he said riding them was easier!

Both pony races provided great entertainment, and a fair number stayed on to watch them, providing enthusiastic (and noisy) support for the young riders. The journey home was broken with a ‘pit-stop’ at the Prichard residence in Pontypridd (lovely people), and thanks to their kindness I resumed my journey suitably fed and watered.

Connor Brace and Peateaoh, winners of the Robin Williams - Farrier 148cms Open Pony Race
Connor Brace and Peateaoh, winners of the Robin Williams – Farrier 148cms Open Pony Race

It was a long way to go but the people made it for me and I’m looking forward to our next visit to Wales on 5th May (Banwen Miners), I’ll bring the flag again, but I’ll iron it this time!

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