Jo Foster: Over the stable door

The rain caused havoc last weekend. After passing an early inspection, the Old Raby point-to-point, at Witton, was forced to abandon while horses walked round the paddock for the third race. The ambulance had got stuck on the course.

Fortunately, I had not forsaken plans to attend the Bedale Hunt Ball the previous night (I try to avoid going out the night before racing) and enjoyed a sociable if dry evening.

Alcohol lulls me into the false belief that I possess a sense of rhythm, so hitting the dance floor with the full knowledge that I had none at all was a new experience for me.

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Luckily, James the Pilot made up for it by proving to be an audacious dance partner. His skilful moves forced a parting of the crowd somewhat like Moses at the Red Sea, and this allowed sufficient space for his customary extrovert performance.

The caterpillar break dance steps proved interesting to his audience until a smashed wine glass put an abrupt end to the act.

Undeterred, James swiftly and seamlessly switched to a well-practised moonwalk, keeping everyone entralled and in stitches.

In the raffle, I won a trip to the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent. I was delighted, although I am not exactly an avid follower of the show.

The good thing is that it provided me with an opportunity to return a favour, in this case an invitation from a friend to spend a day out with Channel 4 racing. Now that’s the sort of television that really is right up my street.

The Sinnington point-to-point tomorrow is always a popular event, drawing a large crowd at the beautiful setting of Duncombe Park, in Helmsley.

This year is particularly poignant for the secretary, Margaret Rooke, who has held the post for 12 years.

She sponsors the Hunt race with Ian Brown, in tribute to their fathers, Henry and Bill, both of them keen Sinnington men whom they sadly lost last year.

Henry Richardson was 84 when he passed away on May 26. He was a haulage contractor from Slingsby and he loved his hunting.

Margaret fondly remembers following the hunt with her father and siblings as a young child one New Year’s day.

“Keeping up with dad was hard work and we were so looking forward to our packed lunch back at the car. Eventually, we returned, starving, to find the back door ajar and an empty basket on the seat.

“It seemed the hounds had got to our delicious goose sandwiches before we had.”

The two men had had a long friendship – Bill, 80, had been Henry’s best man, and he passed away on the same day as his pal.

A well-known farmer and breeder from Nunnington, Bill Brown was renowned for his ability to break in horses. His most successful project was the great showjumper, Milton.

His daughter-in-law, Joanne, is representing the family tomorrow in the race aboard Fortune’s Fool. She hopes to be putting her father-in-law’s trophy back on the family’s sideboard.

My pal and a fellow rider, Lucy Mason and husband James, a farmer from Malton, are celebrating the birth of their first baby, Tilly, who was born on Tuesday.

They met at Bishop Burton college as teenagers but Lucy admits she didn’t take much notice of Jim.

Years later, I rode Lucy’s pointer in some races and invited her to join us at some hunt balls in Yorkshire.

This time she took slightly more notice of him and the two struck up a close friendship. James couldn’t believe his luck…the rest is history.

Both are overjoyed at the new arrival. Jim’s only disappointment is losing a bet.

The chef at his favourite Italian restaurant, in York, had promised a free meal if a boy arrived.

“So sure was he all the signs were that of a girl, it even included wine,” laughs Jim.