INDIANA BAY just prevailed in a fast run Mixed Open on another afternoon blighted for the good crowd of spectators by a bitterly cold wind on the edge of Dartmoor.
The seven Open runners were quickly strung out as front runner Ashclyst set a furious gallop from flagfall. Gershwinner just about kept tabs on the leader, but the remainder of the field, including the eventual winner, toiled well off the pace. At the fourth last across the top of the course, the odds-on favourite Indiana Bay was still a remote 30 lengths back in third, but gradually crept closer under in-form Josh Guerriero. His ten lengths deficit at the second last was quickly whittled away and he was able to pounce on the rapidly tiring Ashclyst just a few yards from the line.
Six-year-old Indiana Bay had started an unbeaten hat trick of wins last year in a Maiden on this course and evidently has a liking for faster ground. “It was too soft for him when Lucette Annie beat him at Buckfastleigh last time,” said trainer Jill Dennis, who has the gelding in her Bude yard for owner Charlie Rush, and could aim the gelding at the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate Final on May 7th. .
Hameldown Tor also scored at this track last season, and ran on gamely to hold Swansbrook in the Confined under Ed Barrett. This nine-year-old grandson of Gold Cup runner-up Dubacilla has been first past the post in his last three races, but was demoted for interference at the Cotley . He has not been the luckiest of horses: “He had a cracked pelvis earlier in his career and did a suspensory winning his Maiden at Buckfastleigh and had to have a year off,” reported Ken Edwards on behalf of the six strong owners who make up the Otter Club.
Buzz Me In initiated a double for Darren Edwards in the Restricted. Ryan Chapman’s Irish import was left in the lead when Ladfromhighworth unseated Vicky Wade at the penultimate. “He likes better going and was no good at Wadebridge last time in the soft. We might go for the Exeter Intermediate final if the ground is on the firm side,” reported the owner/trainer. Buzz Me In’s dam is a half sister to Cool Friend who was just touched off in the John Smith’s Aintree Foxhunter last week.
Darren Edwards completed his double and reached double figures for the season when Sir Watty made all to win the second maiden section. The strong bodied Presenting gelding is owned and trained by West country stalwart David Rogers. “I bought him at Ascot sales and he had lots of problems in Ireland,” said the owner whose colours have been successfully carried in the area for many years.
Foxy Dolly and Ian Chanin steadily drew clear from three out and jumped the final fence in puissance style before winning the other division of the Maiden for the Reddaway family. Robert Reddaway does all the work on the well backed seven-year-old mare who was sourced from Gerald Penfold in Ireland. “She has been waiting for good ground and needs more racing experience,” said Robert.
Searree was another mare to appreciate the quicker going in winning the Exeter Intermediate qualifier and could join the list of candidates for the final. Michael Heard’s mount just held the sustained challenge of Delta Borget. The winner is trained a few miles away from the course at Lydford by Pauline Geering on behalf of owner David Congdon. “She hated the ground on Easter Monday and needs firm. She also prefers a left handed track”, remarked the owner. Michael Heard was partnering his seventh pointing winner of the season to add to three successes under rules.
It was good to see 31 year old Jimmy Cole claim the Hunt race on his own Furmagiatt. Jimmy produced his trademark wave when crossing the winning line in front for the first time this season. “He has had tendon trouble and been hard to train since I got him at Ascot sales,” said Jimmy, who has four horses in his Okehampton yard and spends a lot of time running marathons in the South West.