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.