Plenty of rain during the week meant ground on the soft side at Flete Park, and the times got slower as the going became holding for the latter races. A typically huge Flete Park crowd braved the showers to see a total of 62 runners contest the seven races at this lovely parkland setting.

Mixed Open – Lord Mildmay Memorial – 4 miles (Totnes & Bridgetown Races Co Ltd)

Wee Fly is something of a standing dish ar Flete Park and won for the fourth time at this track under a first class ride from Jo Buck. Wee Fly looked very fit in the preliminaries and started 2-1 joint favourite with the Cothelstone winner Teri D Trixter (Neil Harris). Jo was content to sit off the early pace as Gershwinner (Merv Woodward) made the running, but eased her mount into contention at the top of the hill for the final time. Gershwinner, The Patriarch Game and Teri D Trixter all held chances at the second last where the latter blundered away his chance, but Jo Buck timed her challenge to perfection and hit the front on the game Cornish mare inside the final 100 yards. “I would like to help Jo win the title (National Ladies’) and Wee Fly will come back here for the Modbury four-miler in a fortnight,” reported Wee Fly’s owner/trainer Ross Oliver, who does some of the work with his little star in the saddle on Mawgan Porth beach.

Restricted (Gillard Motors Ltd, Loddiswell, Kingsbridge)

Searree was made favourite on the strength of recent wins at Wadebridge and Trebudannon, where he had Direct Flight and Wee Fly behind him. He seemed to find it hard work here on the more testing ground and had little chance from the top of the hill. The best backed horse was Shanann Star who was backed at all rates into 7-2 after being laid early to one regular West Country “face” at 10-1. Darren Edwards stuck to the inside rails like glue, and pushed the Anshan mare clear from the second last .to beat Before The War convincingly. Darren was partnering his 19th winner of the season and his father Gordon commented, “She is an honest mare who jumps well and has gradually improved. She may run under rules in the summer,” Shanann Star is very much a family mare, but had to seek forgiveness during the week from Darren’s mother Angela. “She was feeling well and bucked me off in the field and I ended with cracked ribs,” said Angela trying to raise a smile.

Intermediate – Elizabeth May Memorial (Full Circle Motors, Ivybridge)

Certain Flight (Will Biddick) led from the second fence and ran on strongly when pressed in the closing stages by Googoobarabajagal (Michael Heard) to whom he was conceding 5lbs. The winner is trained by Keith Cumings for owners Richard and Tina Dunsford. “This is not really his ground or track,” said the trainer. His jockey added: “He coped with the ground but did not enjoy it.” He is already qualified for the Intermediate hunter chase final at Exeter and that is likely to be his next objective.

Confined: (Rodgers of Plymouth Ltd)

Direct Flight might be at the veteran stage but proved that he retains plenty of ability with a hard fought success over the useful Brook Castle. Vicky Wade was riding her fourth winner of the season on the tall 14-year-old, who she also trains for owners Roger Grose, Ronald and Jackie Bunney and her father Keith. Direct Flight was a useful hurdler and chaser in his day, latterly for Jeremy Scott. “He lost his way a bit under rules and came to me at Christmas,” said Vicky.

Open Maiden 4 to 7 year olds, 2m 4f: (Francis Clark)

The newcomer Devon Fare was sent off 4-1 favourite in a wide open market but this half sister to Devon Mead showed lots of greenness and was pulled up before the 12th fence. Cloudlass and Palfrey Boy did the early donkey work, but King’s Scout jumped into the lead at the third last under Micheal Nolan. Driftwood Pride (Richard Woollacott) loomed up as the danger down the hill, but despite running down the final fence, King’s Scout had enough in reserve to hold the promising Driftwood Pride. “That’s a relief,” commented the winner’s trainer Ashley Farrant, adding, “we have had a bug in the yard and he is one of only three with a decent blood count at the moment. He has lots of ability, tons of speed and stays well.” King’s Scout was bought at the Derby sales in Ireland as a three-year-old on behalf of owner Laura Claydon. His half brother called Wilton Milan changed hands for £85,000 at last week’s Cheltenham sales and is joining Paul Nicholls.

Open Maiden (Bartons Solicitors)

The ground had become holding when this race was run, resulting in a time in excess of seven minutes. The winner Sparkbridge did it the hard way, slogging it out with nearest rival Gontdevon to pass the judge with two lengths to spare, having survived a last fence blunder. James Legg had the mount on nine-year-old Sparkbridge, bought by his parents Roger and Jenny out of Simon Burroughs’ yard 18 months ago. This Cotley qualified gelding began his career almost seven years ago when narrowly beaten in a two-year-old flat contest at Ayr on his debut. The Legg family have done very well to keep Sparkbridge sweet latterly, and his breeding suggests a distinct lack of stamina. His sire Mull of Kintyre was a six furlongs performer whose progeny have no pretensions to staying three miles in a horse box – until now.

Hunt Race – Bill Goodman Memorial – (Mrs Sally Goodman)

Bryony Frost set a decent pace on Whatcanisay who jumped well out in front. The race changed shape in the final stages however as Barney Again sailed past at the second last with the Irish Maiden winner Sunken Secret left to chase him home. Barney Again has taken well to pointing and was following up his Kilworthy win. He was taking on a huge task on his last appearance when runner up to Buck’s Bond at Trebudannon, and certainly looked the form pick here. “I might have run him in the Restricted but it was soft enough and he probably needs good ground,” commented the winner’s owner/trainer Mike Weir who is appropriately Master of the Dartmoor hounds.



THE long, dry spell just about got its way as the mid-season East Cornwall meeting at Great Trethew was severely affected by the lack of rainfall. Despite efforts to move bends and marker rails to give better ground, nature could not be defeated. The very firm going meant disappointment for everybody with only a handful of runners in three races, a walk over in two races and – to cap it all –  no runners in another.

 Mixed Open ( Sponsors; Jamaica Inn, Ball & Ball Vehicle Air Conditioning & Roger Young Landrover)

“He hates the mud,” exclaimed Mandy Hand after Hereweareagain and Tom Chanin had coasted home on last season’s leading Devon & Cornwall area novice horse. The nearest mud on Sunday was probably at low tide in LooeBay, because there was only sand at Great Trethew, and that was to ease the ground around the fences. Reg and Mandy Hand have done well with Philip Hobbs cast off Hereweareagain, now transformed into a consistent pointer with four wins to his credit. “He will probably run in his Members’ at Cherrybrook on Saturday,” (April 7th). said Mandy, who rides him regularly at home. He did his job well on ground he seemed to relish here, more than could be said about his sole rival BorderCastle. Richard Woollacott must have been pleased to get BorderCastle to start because the 11-year-old had refused to race at Larkhill on the previous day. In fairness, the rider did everything possible to keep his mount interested, including dropping his leathers and adopting a style reminiscent of Roy Rogers in an old cowboy film. Despite banging the guard rail on the open ditch on each circuit, Woollacott’s mount led until six fences from home when he was overtaken by his stalking rival. He refused at the third last fence, but jumped it at the second time of asking. Now 11-years-old, this lovely looking gelding has slid a long way down the ladder since winning for his breeder, the Queen, as a two-year-old. A Scottish champion hurdle success eventually followed, but a point-to-point at Great Trethew obviously holds no interest for him.

 Open Maiden, 4 to 7-year-olds only, 2m 4f (Jefferys Estate Agents, Cornwall)

The Woollacott yard was responsible for two of the four starters. The trainer was on board My Runaway, with George Humfrey teaming up with former hurdler Sine Mora. It was probably not in the script, but Sine Mora took a ferocious hold and pulled his way ahead of Cordex at the sixth. Not many hard pullers last out, even over two and a half miles, and My Runaway sailed past his stable mate at the top of the hill to win easily. Sine Mora’s last fence tumble looked nasty, but he got to his feet amidst relieved applause. My Runaway was bought by his trainer/rider as a three-year-old at Fairyhouse sales and is now owned by his near neighbours Hannah and Andrew Broggio. His fall at Black Forest Lodge on the opening day of the season put Richard Woollacott out of action for nearly three months. My Runaway also missed a chunk of the season having pulled muscles in his fall.

 PPORA Novice Riders’ (Dodson & Horrell)

Leanda Tickle rode another winner here in the shape of Apollo Blaze in her quest for the National novice riders’ title. Her sole opponent was the veteran pointer Touch of Flame, a second race ride for 20-year-old Alex Hutter. There was never more than two lengths separating the pair throughout the contest, with the almost white Touch of Flame jumping exuberantly. They raced over the last couple of fences close together until Apollo Blaze found a bit more on the run-in to record the fifth success of his career. With her mother Pat Shaw seeking a permit, this was an initial training success for Vanessa Shaw. Paul Harvey’s gelding stays well and is likely to be aimed at the Eggesford four-miler just after Easter.