BRATTON DOWN was seen at its best on Sunday with a massive crowd enjoying the picturesque backcloth of Exmoor on a crystal clear, sunny day.
It was a day to remember for 16-year-old Kieran Buckley who rode his first winner as Vertige Dore just snatched the Men’s Open with a head victory over the favourite Flanshan, with Pastek breathing down their necks in third.
Eight-year-old Vertige Dore is owned and trained by the young jockey’s father Eddie Buckley, the long standing head lad to the Pipe yard at Nicholashayne. A winner four times under rules when in the care of Paul Nicholls and latterly David Pipe, Vertige Dore was a gift horse from the Pipe’s after losing his form last autumn. The winner was never the easiest of rides under rules, but certainly ran kindly for his young rider. “He jumped like a stag but I didn’t want to hit the front too soon and took a pull two out,” explained Kieran, adding, “I am still at Uffculme school but have been riding out at the Pipe’s since I was 11. I have done show jumping and cross country and this was my sixth ride in point-to-points.
The 2011 ladies’ champion Gina Andrews was paying her first visit to Bratton Down. There is a saying when a horse wins easily that he could have gone round again – well Gina’s comfortable Ladies’ Open winner Start Royal did just that. “I had so much trouble pulling him up and couldn’t stop him until we got to the starting area at the other end of the course”, smiled Gina as her mount regally completed a lap of honour. Start Royal had a wind operation before this season and was winning his third Open of the campaign which started when runner-up at Wadebridge last December . He is trained by Alan Hill who jointly owns the gelding in partnership with Mike Avery and Stewart and Hilda Nash.
Josh Guerriero, who has a new role lined up as assistant trainer to Dan Skelton this summer, is enjoying his best season in the saddle, and is assured of his first Devon & Cornwall Area jockeys’ title with 23 winners already under his belt. Josh rode his second double of the week thanks to Bernshaw and Tresor De La Vie.
Bernshaw jumped well to make all in the opening Hunt race. The well backed eight-year-old is trained locally by Claire Hitch for her father Mike Wright. “We bought him at Ascot sales but he got a leg and missed last year. The clerk of the course Phil Rawle has done a good job for me riding him out recently,” said Claire.
Josh Guerriero’s double was completed in the concluding Maiden with an impressive performance from Tresor De La Vie. This six-year-old has a lot to live up to since he was sourced in France by former jockey and now successful bloodstock agent Richard Hobson, whose purchases include Hurricane Fly and Sir Des Champs. Owned by Jean Browning, Tresor De La Vie was also completing a double for his trainer Izzy Dartnall.
Izzy had earlier saddled only the second winner of her career when Letmespeak and Robbie Henderson just got the better of Josh Guerriero’s mount Tallanstown Boy in the first leg of the maiden. Letmespeak is owned by Izzy’s father Victor Dartnall who had bought the eight-year-old locally from Debbie Cole. “We thought he had a chance because he had worked well with Ambion Wood who won for us at Worcester yesterday,” said Victor, who is likely to send his winner summer jumping.
Lilac Wine was a worthy winner of a decent Intermediate, staying on gamely to pip the luckless Ladfromhighworth and Point West in a tight finish. Lilac Wine was ridden by Danny Burton for his father Gerald who is based at Calne, Wiltshire. The 10-year-old mare had been runner up twice this season and was allowed to start at 33-1. “She had a virus last year but seems to have come to herself now,” reported the trainer.
There was almost a 33-1 surprise in the 13-runner Restricted as the unconsidered Bathwick Scanno and Jamie Bargary went into a three lengths lead round the final bend. Darren Edwards was steadily closing on Bradley Brook however and the Nicky Martin trained gelding took command on the brow of the hill to score going away. “We bought him in Ireland as a three-year-old and he has taken time to mature,” said the trainer.
Hunt race (Burges Salmon)
1 Bernshaw (J Guerriero) 2-1; 2 Mister Moonax (Hannah Hawkins) 11-10fav; 3 Johny No Cash (Suzy Berry) 12-1; 6 ran; 4 1/2l; 1/2l; 6m 6s
Restricted (Rosettes Direct)
1 Bradley Brook (Darren Edwards) 5-2; 2 Bathwick Scanno (Jamie Bargary) 33-1; 3 Young Jim (Jamie Thomas 25-1; 13 ran; 3l; 15l; 5m 55s
Ladies’ Open (Bray Leino)
1 Start Royal (Gina Andrews); 7-4 fav; 2 Yufo (Vicky Wade) 13-2; 3 How’s My Friend (Amanda Bush)) 4-1; 9 ran; 4l; 2 1/2l; 5m 51s
Men’s Open (Moore Scarrott)
1 Vertige Dore (Kieran Buckley) 5-1; 2 Flanshan (Martin McIntyre) 2-1 fav; 3 Pastek (Martin Peaty) 14-1; 9 ran; head; 1/2l; 6m 1s
Intermediate (Ashley Farrant & the Kingdon family)
1 Lilac Wine (Danny Burton) 33-1; 2 Ladfromhighworth (Vicky Wade) 3-1; 3 Point West (Martin Cooney) 5-2; 9 ran; 1/2l; 1l; 5m 57s
Division 1 (The Old Station House Inn)
1 Letmespeak (Robbie Henderson) 4-1; 2 Tallanstown Boy (Josh Guerriero) 4-1; 3 Harry’s Kap (Ed Barrett) 9-2; 12 ran; neck; 1/2l; 6m 9s
Division 2 (Slee Blackwell Solicitors)
1 Tresor De La Vie (Josh Guerriero) 3-1 fav; 2 William Percival (Mike Heard) 7-2; 3 Grey Dream (Jamie Bargary) 12-1; 12 ran; 3/4l; 2 1/2l; 6m 1s