GRANVILLE TAYLOR GIVES HIS RACE-BY-RACE ANALYSIS
The old Buckfastleigh racecourse provided a superb setting for some high class point-to-point total of 63 runners contested the seven races.
Mixed Open (Totnes and Bridgetown Races Company)
This race is billed as the Westcountry Champion Chase and offers a total of £1,000 in prize money. The purse went to the Portman qualified Vintage Class who started odds-on favourite and basically outclassed his five rivals under his rider/trainer Michael Miller. Jean’s Joy (Polly Gundry) and Holly Walk (Jimmy Cole) took turns in the lead, with Vintage Class moving ominously well stalking the leaders. Holly Walk kept herself in contention thanks to some athletic jumps down the far side, but Vintage Class began to assert approaching the final fence before drawing away on the flat to score comfortably. Vintage Class is a strong, good looking eight-year-old who could not win an egg and spoon race under rules in eight attempts in Ireland. He has now won five point-to-points in this country since being acquired by Beaminster owner Bill Dupont as a six-year-old. “He really needs cut in the ground and we may go for a Novice hunter chase at Exeter if it rains enough,” reported the owner. Bill seems to have acquired a bargain in Vintage Class. His half brother called Oscar Nominee fetched £100,000 at Doncaster last May and is now with Nicky Henderson. Jimmy Cole was delighted by his mare Holly Walk’s performance in finishing second. “She is getting back to her best after a virus,” reported the Tavistock rider. Jean’s Joy stayed on late to finish third, just ahead of Minella Tipperary.
Intermediate (Connolly’s Red Mills)
The Worcestershire gelding Drom was backed from 11-8 to evens and gave a workmanlike performance after setting off in front. The eight-year-old was never headed and ran on resolutely when tackled by recent Ottery winner Benedictus after the second last. Drom is certainly proving a friend to form students. He won twice last year and was runner up to the useful Blackstaff at Black Forest last month. His subsequent second to Over The Phone in a hunter chase at Leicester reads even better since Over The Phone was successful at Newton Abbot last Sunday (March 20th). Drom is trained by Paul Davies at Bromyard, and is a likely candidate for the final of this series at Cheltenham in May. Jockey John Mathias was making his first visit to Buckfastleigh and Drom was his only ride of the day, but the 20-year-old Welshman made history on the following day when setting a British point-to-point record with an astonishing six winners from seven rides at Cilwendeg, Pembrokeshire.
Restricted (AGL Chartered Accountants Ltd)
This was the strongest Restricted run in the Area this season. Eight of the 11 runners had already won this term. Despite the quality of the field, the Richard Barber trained Curtain Razer was sent off evens favourite. The five-year-old had created a good impression when winning on his debut at Ottery, and Will Biddick was content to hold him up until joining Wayward Frolic and Alysia’s Flame after the final ditch. Alysia’s Flame gave Polly Gundry a nasty fall at the 16th, bringing down Hereweareagain, leaving Curtain Razer and Wayward Frolic to fight it out. The pair quickened in unison and raced neck and neck on the long sweeping run to the final fence where Curtain Razer’s inside advantage began to tell. Biddick’s mount forged clear on the run-in to score by four lengths, with Rockon Xmoor coming from a long way back to snatch third. The winner is owned by Graham Roach and is undoubtedly being primed to join Paul Nicholls in due course. “He will probably have another point-to-point,” said the owner. Runner up Wayward Frolic is another fine prospect, and Lizzie’s Lass and Prudent George are just two others to watch from this race.
Open Maiden Division 1 (Winston Pincombe, Chulmleigh)
This turned into a straight fight between Valoroso (Ian Chanin) and The Accordionist (Will Biddick), with six-year-old Valoroso just holding the persistent challenge of his rival from the second last. The winner was bred by his owner Audrey Goodwin and is trained by Ed Walker who said: “We will turn him away if the ground dries up because he is a nice prospect for next year.” Ian Chanin was partnering his eighth winner of the season on Valoroso.
Open Maiden Division 2 (Bartons Solicitors)
Punters latched on to a Graham Roach owned youngster making his racecourse debut in the shape of Watergate Bay from the Richard Barber yard. The five-year-old is a full brother to the same owner’s useful chaser Fistral Beach. This time the cash stayed with the bookies as the 5-4 favourite had nothing left when push came to shove. Sixyear-old Tans Hill came out on top, fulfilling the promise he had shown on his debut at Great Trethew under a good ride from Joe Tickle. Tans Hill was always travelling well and joined the leaders entering the final circuit before staying on resolutely to hold the strong finishing Tamatown. “One of the nicest I have ridden,” said Joe. The winner is owned and trained by Jill Dennis. A good looking son of the 2,000gns runner up Revoque, he was bought as a foal in Ireland and is: “on the market,” according to connections.
Confined Novice Riders’ (Luscombe Maye)
21-year-old Micheal Nolan is one of the jockey finds of the season. The Irishman joined Philip Hobbs only a few months ago, and was riding his fourth winner of the season here from only a handful of rides. The Christine Gray trained veteran Quizzling has now been responsible for three of Nolan’s winners, and was scoring for the third consecutive time. Quizzling was hard pressed from the penultimate but ran on gamely to beat Mistified, with Rockwithacaveman unable to get in a blow in third.
Hunt Race (John Bond in memory of his late wife Kath)
Only three runners with Tom Chanin setting a very slow pace on Aryshvic, ahead of two other maiden pointers in Award Winning and Ducal Daisey. Award Winning, with 17-year-old Lara Sliwinski having her first ride in public, threw down a late challenge, but the Robert Chanin trained Aryshvic maintained her advantage to win by three-quarters of a length. Aryshvic’s owners Trevor and Carrie Marks owned one of the best pointers of the 1980’s called Stanwick Lad who won 42 times in their colours, mainly in the Midlands and East Anglia. They have recently moved to the West Country and their daughter Amanda Burden is also a member of Aryshvic’s owners’ group.