The bookmakers at Upcott Cross took refuge by setting up in the beer tent as driving rain set in and swept across the track all afternoon. Seemingly half the crowd squeezed into the small tent together with the bookies in a decidedly rugby scrum atmosphere.
A total of 67 runners lined up for the seven race card with the incessant rain easing the going throughout the afternoon with race times getting progressively slower.
Lizzie Kelly and Josh Guerriero each rode doubles. The three runner AGA Ladies Open was quickly reduced to a match as the odds-on favourite King Of Alcatraz came down at the first. Lizzie Kelly soon had Rio Gael out in front and this useful ex-chaser was always holding Railway Vic and Bryony Frost. A winner on seven occasions under rules, Rio Gael was bought privately earlier this year out of Peter Bowen’s yard and is trained at Modbury by Sam Holdsworth for owner Charles Stanley.
Lizzie Kelly’s double was completed when 20-1 outsider Milburn got up on the line to snatch the closing Open Maiden at the expense of the 2-1 favourite Go On Henry (Josh Guerriero). The result may have been different had Will Biddick’s mount Third Chance not fallen at the last when holding a slight lead. “Would have won,” was Biddick’s succinct comment. The champion rider had enjoyed better luck with a point-to-point success in Ireland two days previously. Lizzie Kelly was partnering her eighth winner of the season on the sturdy seven-year-old Milburn, bought by his trainer Gail Haywood as a three-year-old. “He has been very backward,” commented the trainer who shares ownership with Romilly Stuart-Jervis.
Josh Guerriero had returned from the Anglo/Irish challenge weekend in Ireland empty handed from his two rides, but his Upcott Cross double took him to the 21 winner mark for the season. Parkam Jack, owned by John and Floss Symes, and stabled with Kayley Jones, initiated the Devon rider’s double in the Mens Open. This improving seven-year-old was left clear of the favourite Swansbrook after Parazar had fallen when leading at the penultimate fence.
Guerriero completed his double when the perennial runner-up Lord Samson finally got his head in front in the first section of the Open Maiden. On this occasion he could not be faulted as he stuck to his task well to hold the sustained challenge of Storm Shadow.
There was controversy following the Novice Riders contest when the clear cut winner Fiulin was disqualified after a lengthy enquiry. It transpired that Bryony Frost had weighed in 9lbs short of the required 12 stone due to having been weighed out at the incorrect weight. The stewards had little option but to disqualify Ross Oliver’s “winner” at the expense of runner up Clew Bay Cove, with Harriet Skinner becoming the beneficiary with her first winner.
Like Clew Bay Cove, Knoxhill Archie has proved to be a sound schoolmaster this season and duly gave his owner/trainer Penny Lay her initial success when winning the Confined. “I bought him privately from Pam Wright and the Dawsons in Yorkshire and he really needs firm ground,” reported 26-year-old Penny who breaks and schools horses at St Mawgan in Cornwall.
Ed Barrett came fresh from a Kingston Blount success on the previous day to steer the Leslie Jefford trained Dancing Olga to victory in the 17 runner Restricted. The mare was sent off at 20-1 having turned in a couple of modest runs since beating Lord Samson at the Taunton Vale. Dancing Olga was bred by her owner Tigger Pudd from the winning hurdler Polly Leach.