GRANVILLE TAYLOR RACE-BY-RACE LOOK
A dry afternoon at Bratton Down – nothing new about that for the past two months! The strong, gusty wind off the sea made it feel more like March on the exposed moor. The trees up there seem immune to this kind of weather, standing upright against the elements like a row of soldiers. The going was on the quick side, but there had been some rain before the meeting. The added use of an aggravator, which is a mechanical device for lifting the surface helped to provide a cushion on the old turf on the racing line.
Men’s Open (The Pittard Family in memory of Bob Pittard)
Only four went to post with Gaelic Flight a heavily backed 1-2 favourite on the strength of two recent Open wins at Cothelstone.. Will Biddick’s mount Cappoquin was second market choice at 7-4. The race may have been decided as early as the sixth fence where Gaelic Flight’s blunder sent Neil Harris flying into space with a particularly painful landing. 25-1 outsider Classic Rock took the remaining trio along, but Biddick was biding his time on Cappoquin, and soon had the race sealed up when quickening well clear approaching the final fence. Seven-year-old Cappoquin has been a model of consistency this season having added four consecutive wins to three placings earlier in the year. “Luckily he didn’t have a hard race and can run again next weekend,” said his owner/trainer Richard Barber who was saddling his 37th point-to-point winner of the season.
Intermediate (Hi-Tec Drains in memory of David Willes)
Will Biddick was hoping to add to his winning tally on the Keith Cumings trained Certain Flight, but the promising six-year-old, who had won his Maiden on this track last year, had to give best to Turtle Tim who stayed on well up the hill after the pair had crossed the last together. Josh Guerriero was riding his 13th winner of the season on 6-1 chance Turtle Tim who had shown signs of returning to form at FletePark recently. Trainer Leslie Jefford explained that the seven-year-old: “had a wind operation last year but had run two bad races earlier this season. He has improved for the tongue tie and has got the confidence to breathe again,” he added.
Ladies’ Open (AP & VA Maddox Ltd)
John Pearn’s Dr Massini gelding Deloughtane has enjoyed a fruitful campaign and easily put his three rivals into their place to gain his fourth success of the season. Alice Pearn’s mount took a clear advantage at the second last and stayed on under hands and heels on the run-in to beat Waziri and Over The Creek. Connections are likely to bring the winner back to Bratton for the Exmoor hunt race on June 4th.
Confined (Eastleigh Care Homes)
Richard Woollacott had saddled Deloughtane to his Ladies’ Open success, and the Rose Ash yard was also responsible for sending out Deb’s Dasher, ridden by Woollacott to win this five runner contest. Saint Romble led early, but Deb’s Dasher jumped his way to the front going out on to the final circuit and was always holding the challenge of Yufo in the closing stages. Although he has shown winning form on soft ground, six-year-old Deb’s Dasher seems to cope well in faster conditions and is in my note book as one of the more progressive youngsters in the area. A left handed track is a pre-requisite however for this excellent jumper, and the trainer/rider’s post-race comment was that: “he is still a baby and needs to fill into his frame”.
Open Maiden (James Pryce Tractors)
In The Dock was making only his second racecourse appearance, but his promising debut third at Larkhill in March was sufficient to assure the five-year-old of warm favouritism here against six opponents. Amanda Bush was content to track the leaders as Derniere Dance (Will Biddick) headed the field. This pair forged clear from the final ditch, and Will Biddick opened up a five lengths gap along the bottom end of the course. Derniere Dance was still in front jumping the last, but was running out of petrol up the punishing final climb and began to edge left towards his opponent as he was challenged. The duo eventually ended up alongside the far running rail with the favourite short of room and squeezing past just before the line. The winner, who will be turned away now for the season, was bought by his owner Grant Cann as a three-year-old at the Goffs Land Rover sale.
PPORA Club Members’ Novice Riders’ (Connolly’s Red Mills)
A novice rider meets that qualification by having ridden no more than three winners at the start of the season. It is quite an achievement therefore that the five jockeys in this race had accumulated a total of 34 winners between during the past five months. Minehead’s adopted Irishman Micheal Nolan is blazing the trail for the National Novice Riders’ title with 14 wins, but could only finish fourth here on Wee Bertie. The finish was an action replay of the corresponding Avon Vale event in March with the game veteran Preacher Boy (Philip Prince) produced late to mug Barney’s Mate (Harry Derham) inside the final 150 yards. It might have been a very different story had not Preacher Boy’s jockey survived a jolting blunder at the 13th fence which left him clinging on for several strides. 19-year-old Philip Prince has impressed in clocking up his seven winners this season
Restricted (BMW Westerley Barnstaple)
Once again the lead changed hands on the long finishing climb. Darnays Whistle was sent on by Darren Edwards at the third last, but was caught and headed by Obamarama just inside the final furlong. Trained by Ed Walker for owners Ken and Sylvia Dare, the six-year-old was the ninth winner of the season for Ed Barrett. The 23-year-old jockey also started the season as a novice, and has undoubtedly benefited from the tutorage of Polly Gundry who was away riding in a charity flat race at Kelso. “That was a Gundry ride and she would be very pleased to see that,” said Ed who feels that Obamarama has a preference for fast ground.