The postponed Eggesford meeting attracted a good sized crowd in warm sunshine at Upcott Cross with the ground drying out by the minute.
The card was expanded to eight races with a division on the day of the first Maiden. A total of 51 runners was a commendable turn out for a re-arranged fixture.
Print The Money started a well backed 6-4 favourite for the four miles Devon National. Josh Guerriero’s mount shared the lead for the first three miles with River Indus, who had won over this extended distance in very different snowy conditions at Treborough Hill in March. The pair soon had plenty of challengers and as the race warmed up Roll On Rose threatened the favourite for the lead as River Indus gave way.
It was Joaaci however who stayed on the stronger in the home straight, striding clear of Print The Money to score by six lengths. The winner is owned by Duncan Odgers and trained at Looe by his partner Pat Shaw. Jockey Mikey Ennis seems to have specialised in Nationals this year. Based with David Pipe, the 31-year-old had ridden the winner of the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and finished runner up in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr last month. “Joaaci jumps really well and stays. I hit the front with him too soon in a four miler at Cheltenham last year and wanted to be more patient this time,” said the rider who expects to turn conditional in the near future.
Michael Heard and Robbie Henderson each scored doubles. Heard kicked off his successful day on his home track by taking the Hunt race on Faasel, and completed his double when the five-year-old mare Roxy Doodles won her division of the Open Maiden. The Heard family are great supporters of pointing and Michael’s father John Heard was certainly multi tasking in his role as trainer of Faasel and Roxy Doodles; clerk of the course and land owner of the Upcott Cross course. Roxy Doodles was bought for only £900 at Ascot sales last July and is owned jointly by the trainer and John Gardener.
Robbie Henderson’s double came courtesy of Kudu Shine and Gospel Preacher. Kudu Shine is unbeaten in his three runs this season, but his owner Audrey Goodwin missed this success having got lost in the Devon lanes en route. Trainer Kayley Jones was given the go ahead to run Kudu Shine by the owner however and said afterwards, “He will be turned away now and maybe run under rules in due course.”
Kayley went on to saddle her sixteenth point-to-point winner of the season when Gospel Preacher completed Robbie Henderson’s double in the final Maiden. This big Kayf Tara eight-year-old was bought at Doncaster sales last November after showing promise from the Alan King yard. He is owned by an enthusiastic group of eight under the name of The Passion8 Pointers Syndicate. The passion, I am told, is entirely directed to point-to-pointing.
The other Open Maiden winner Gingers Reflection came to Christine Gray’s yard via the Ascot Derby sales last summer after a few runs under rules for Henrietta Knight. The seven-year-old is jointly owned by the trainer together with keen West country point-to-point follower David Gadian. “He has masses of ability,” enthused the trainer after her charge had just got the better of front running Lord Samson. Winning jockey John Park is based with Kevin Bishop and plans to turn conditional at the end of the season.
Jockey Alistair Harvey enjoyed a weekend to remember. After celebrating his 21st birthday on the day before, the Cirencester student won the Novice Riders’ contest on his grandmother Sue Trump’s Tamatown. “He is very keen and does well as this is the only horse he rides,” commented trainer Leslie Jefford.
It is difficult to keep champion jockey Will Biddick off the score sheet and he followed up his Holnicote double on the previous day with his 34th success of the campaign when long odds-on chance Pamplona Run took the Restricted after a spirited battle with Reliable Richie. Biddick described the Graham Roach owned five-year-old as, “very green”, but it would be surprising if this well bred Richard Barber trained youngster did not go on to greater things.