Devon & Cornwall jockeys are riding high as we reach the half way point of the season. With 14 of the scheduled 29 meetings in the area completed, West country riders stand at the head of the four main National championship titles. Will Biddick added two weekend winners to take his total to 23, but he is now being chased by Darren Edwards on 16 after Darren recorded trebles at Cothelstone and Buckfastleigh at the weekend. Jo Buck enjoyed three winners over the weekend to elevate herself to the head of the National Ladies’ title race, and Leanda Tickle and Kieron Edgar lead their respective novice rider championships at the moment.

The going was good to soft and the course was in great shape for the second and final Buckfastleigh meeting of the season

Intermediate (Connolly’s Red Mills)

My synopsis of the South Pool Intermediate run at Buckfastleigh last month read: “This could turn out to be one of the most informative intermediates of the season.” I was nearly right because that race was by far the most informative of the season with nine subsequent winners amongst the cast that day. Lucette Annie had run her usual game race on that occasion in finishing third behind the very smart pair of Keppols Hill and Penmore Mill. Her turn came here as she made all the running to put a decent field in their place. Trained by Simon Partridge at Poundsgate on behalf of Chris and Janet Hunphrey, this gutsy mare acts well on soft ground and formed part of the day’s triple winning tally of Darren Edwards.“She acts well on good or soft ground but not on the firm. She is happier going left handed really and she could go for a hunter chase,” was the trainer’s post-race summary.

Men’s Open (Totnes & Bridgetown Races Company)

Benedictus is a progressive seven-year-old and came good here at his first attempt in Open company. Jack Barber sent the chestnut to the front before half way and shook off the attentions of Joaaci at the second last after a fine display of jumping. Accurate jumping always gives a spectacular sight down the back straight at Buckfastleigh. “I kept kicking him and asking him,” reported the rider who had just been touched off on Chapoturgeon in the Christie’s Cheltenham Foxhunter two days previously. Trainer Jane Western has her sights set on one of the Intermediate finals at Cheltenham or Exeter for Benedictus.

Restricted (AGL Accountants, Kingsbridge)

Leslie Jefford’s yard has turned out a succession of winners this month and Lizzy’s Lass added to a double for the yard at Cothelstone on the previous day. All three winners were partnered by the reigning Devon & Cornwall lady champion Jo Buck. Showing a mature judgement of pace, Jo was content to bide her time and delayed her challenge until the last possible moment to head Alysia’s Flame inside the last 100 yards. “Lizzy’s Lass stays well and they played into our hands. She produced her to perfection,” said the trainer. A likeable grey, the six-year-old failed to sparkle on her seasonal debut at Great Trethew when she had just recovered from a cough, but is surely destined to win more races.

Open Maiden

Division 1 (Winston Pincombe)

Will Biddick rode a confident race on the 6-4 favourite Provo, easing his mount into contention along the far side to track the leaders King Kash and Lightening Jack. King Kash put up brave resistance, but Provo quickened past him in style after jumping the last to win convincingly. Provo is a five-year-old by Presenting trained by Richard Barber on behalf of owners Hilton and Lyn Ramseyer, “I bought him at Doncaster sales as a three-year-old (for £35,000) and like most Presentings he is taking time to mature,” said Hilton. Provo ran with promise on his only racecourse appearance in an Ascot bumper last October and missed his intended pointing debut at Charlton Horthorne last week when he pulled a shoe off. He is destined to join Paul Nicholls to go hurdling when his pointing education is complete.

Division 2 (Brookwell Supplies)

It was fitting that the Edwards family should provide Darren with one of his weekend winners. Shanann Star is trained by Darren’s father at their Wheddon Cross base and had been placed in all three of her English points. She gained reward for her consistency here at the expense of Noble Legacy and La Soie, who each shaped like staying types. Ann’s Lottery looked booked for a place until jumping left at the last, and this was probably an informative Maiden. Shanann Star showed promise in Irish points at the end of last year and was bought by current connections at Ascot sales just before Christmas. “She settled better today and would prefer better ground,” said Gordon Edwards, who may be tempted to send her summer jumping. Keiron Edgar broke a collar bone when Miss Cupcake fell at the 15

Hunt Race (Mr John Bond in memory of his late wife)

Edward Darke’s fine old servant Karinga Coin (Richard Woollacott) took up the running after the second last, but stumbled on landing over the final fence and went down narrowly to Gunpark, despite rallying near the post. “I got a bit lucky winning this,” was the modest appraisal of jockey Darren Edwards. Gunpark is trained by Sam Holdsworth for joint owners Rebecca Welch and Charlie Eyston

Ladies’ Open (Bartons Solicitors)

Ha Ho Magregor (Suzy Berry) took the measure of his sole opponent Karley as he forged two lengths clear on the run to the last. It looked plain sailing until half way up the run-in, when the 10-year-old decided he had done enough and put the brakes on, allowing Karley to sail past for victory. Ha Ho was certainly no joke for Suzy Berry, who also trains the reluctant runner-up, and was having only her second ride back following a nasty injury at Larkhill ten weeks ago. The beneficiary of Ha Ho’s antics, Karley, was giving 25-year-old Cordelia Chugg her second career winner. Pat Glenn’s gelding is from the Ed Walker yard and Cordelia combines riding out at the Ottery yard at weekends alongside her job as a Norland nanny in London.

Confined Novice Riders’ (Luscombe Maye)

Vic’s World (Bryony Frost) defeated Fier Destrier (Ben Keatley) in a match with the winner making all the running and jumping accurately. Bryony had ridden her first winner just a week ago and rode an assured race on the 10-year-old trained by her mother Nikki. “He belongs to a small syndicate we have formed called The Wellie Boot Group and as a way of encouraging owners they have three horses in training for the price of one,” explained Bryony.