A BIG Bank Holiday crowd saw 16-year-old Jake Launchbury ride his first winner on Smugglers Run in the Novice Riders Race at the North Cotswold point-to-point.
Basil Fawlty led the first half of the contest at Paxford, while Corridor Sun looked dangerous until unseating Brad Catton at the 13th fence.
Smugglers Run was a little adrift but closed the gap when Basil Fawlty and his jockey parted company at the fourth from home.
The race was at Smugglers Run's mercy but his stride began to shorten after the second from home.
It needed all his young jockey's skills to withstand the challenge of Karasakal.
The winner is owned by the rider’s mother Leanne and stabled with Andrew Campbell at Condicote.
The Launchbury family are based in Bourton-on-the-Water where the jockey is studying for his GCSEs at the Cotswold School.
He is following former pupils Sam Twiston-Davies and Tom Bellamy, who are making a name for themselves under National Hunt rules.
The wet weather held off until the concluding eight-year-old and over Maiden at Paxford.
From halfway, it was between the first and second favourites The Snickett and Tully Donnell Flyer.
Tom Weston held the upper hand but Tom David kept pressing on The Snickett.
They regained the advantage approaching the last and drew clear.
Condicote trainer James Richardson owns the eight-year-old with his brothers Thomas and Edward and their sister Hannah. Anybody who backed odds-on favourite Scenic Route in the Members owe a debt of gratitude to jockey Mark Wall The winner jumped right at many fences and lost several lengths in the process.
Archie Bellamy and Esteem were 20 lengths clear with three fences to jump but began to tread water at the 17th.
Wall has not been the area champion for the last four years for nothing and galvanised his mount for a final effort as they passed their tiring rival to win by three-quarters-of-a-length.
Owner Matthew Burford was convinced his horse had finished second so received a pleasant surprise when the result was announced.
Wall said: “I thought they had gone off too fast and Esteem was better at shorter distances under Rules so I hoped he would tire, but he lasted longer than I anticipated!”
Those people who backed the outsider of three received their reward when Boomtown Kat provided Rachel Talbot with the second win of her career in the Ladies' Open.
Odds-on favourite Current Event was an early casualty, while Dinnie O fought a losing battle from halfway.
The Men's Open also produced a surprising result with Duke Special beating odds-on favourite The Magherally Man.
Weston played a waiting game on the favourite but Dave Mansell kicked clear at the 16th and poached a three-length advantage.
The Magherally Man stayed on strongly but was a head behind at the post.
Tom Lacey has found a niche in the market buying unraced four-year-olds, winning and then packing them off to the sales.
Love Manhattan's victory in the Maiden added to the Chipping Norton trainer's impressive CV.
The winner showed signs of greenness approaching the last fence but had too much speed for Very Keen on the flat.
RESULTS Hunt Members: 1 Scenic Route (M Wall, 1-2 fav), 2 Esteem, 3 Beat the Bandits. Five ran.
Novice Riders: 1 Smugglers Run (J Launchbury, 8-1), 2 Karasakal. Five ran.
Ladies' Open: 1 Boomtown Kat (R Talbot, 4-1), 2 Dinnie O. Three ran.
Men's Open: 1 Duke Special (D Mansell, 7-2), 2 The Magherally Man, 3 Brimham Boy. Four ran.
Restricted: 1 Broken Eagle (J Tudor, 5-2), 2 Firey King, 3 Coolykereen Castle. Five ran.
Maiden (four, five, six and seven-year-old): 1 Love Manhattan (S Drinkwater, 5-4 fav), 2 Very Keen, 3 Some Machine. Eight ran.
Open Maiden (eight-year-old and upwards): 1 The Snickett (T David, 7-4), 2 Tullydonnell Flyer, 3 Roscarno. Six ran.