AT last this season we were able to enjoy sunshine from a clear blue sky at ChipleyPark. However it was not all plain sailing with lashings of mud around the bookies and paddock which made wellington boots the essential fashion accessory.
A total of 108 runners contested the 10 races with soft going putting a premium on stamina. All credit to the organisers in defeating the endless wet spell to provide quality racing on soft going which attracted several long distance travellers.“We even had to drain the bottom bend with six inch pipes after it rained again on Saturday night,” said secretary Keith Granger.
The Mixed Open attracted 17 runners which saw champion jockey Will Biddick displaying his artistry with a smooth success on Certain Flight. Backed from 7’s to 4’s, Biddick saved every inch of ground on the rails until edging his mount ahead of the game front running All Great N Theory in the home straight. Keith Cumings trains Certain Flight for owners Richard and Tina Dunsford, and was quick to pay tribute to the rider. “He was given a lovely ride. I was not sure how he would cope with the ground. He has got to go hunter chasing now.” said the trainer, whose daughter Nicky is credited with doing all the work at home and, “won’t let anybody else ride him,” according to the Bishops Nympton trainer.
The Devon mare Lucette Annie revelled in the conditions to score on her seasonal debut in the Mares race. Despite drifting in the betting, the consistent 10-year-old made virtually all and drew away from Popaway and Champagne Rosie over the last two fences to win decisively.” I didn’t really want to make the running,” said winning jockey Darren Edwards. The mare looked really on song and now heads to the valuable Buckfastleigh Mixed Open she won last year. “Our gallops on the farm at Poundsgate have been waterlogged and we missed Wadebridge this year. She is a lot stronger and has done a lot of hill work” remarked Simon Partridge who trains the tough chestnut on behalf of owners Chris and Janet Humphrey.
Ottery St Mary based Ed Walker sent out his first runner of the season, Blazing Whale, to beat the heavily backed favourite Babeny Bridge in the 16-runner Intermediate in the hands of Robbie Henderson. “We have only just started because they all came in fat. Blazing Whale was a bit unlucky last year. He is a proper old fashioned chaser,” commented the trainer, who shares ownership in the Classic Cliché gelding with Francis Read.
Classic Cliché was also responsible for siring the Novice Riders’ winner Justabout, who is out of Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Dubacilla. The winner was ridden by Ciaran Gethings who forced his mount up to beat Tamatown and Barneys Mate in a blanket finish. Justabout won five times under rules but had been in the wilderness a bit since his last victory for Colin Tizzard over two years ago. “Colin told me he had no chance on soft ground,” laughed owner /trainer Gerald Greenway. “Ciaran works for Philip Hobbs and schooled him there the other day, but I ride him out at home,” proclaimed the 74-year-old trainer.
Thorverton trainer Robert Chanin saddled a remarkable seventh consecutive winner in the space of five weeks when For The Staff , owned by Roger Knowles and Annie Argyrides, stayed on well under Ian Chanin to win the Hunt Race. “We wanted to give him an easy race to start him off because he had a few hard races last year,” said the trainer, who has hunter chases in mind with a possible run at Buckfastleigh before t
The first division of the Restricted produced the closest finish of the day as Romassor and Un Ami fought out a neck and neck battle all the way up the final climb. It was the recent Wadebridge winner Romassor who was awarded the verdict by a short head under Tom David. “He is a big horse with an enormous stride who will keep on improving. He is the nearest horse I have had to Sericina,” said trainer Chloe Roddick, who went on to reveal that the progressive six-year-old is likely to return to France where he will run over fences for owners Steven Kemble and Patrick Atkinson.
Illicit Illusion initiated a double for jockey Sam Drinkwater and trainer Tom Lacey in the other Restricted division. The HeronIsland six-year-old, owned by the jockey’s father Paul, just held the sustained challenge of Whenharrymetsally to follow up his Barbury Castle Maiden victory. “This is a lovely course, it’s the first time I have ridden here,” said Sam who went on to complete the double on five-year-old Thedrinkymeister in the first Open Maiden which had to be divided on the day. “This horse is still a bit novicey,” remarked Alice Campbell, representing Tom Lacey who was away on a skiing holiday. Thedrinkymeister is another produce of HeronIsland out of a mare called Keel Row who won a couple of hurdle races for the Queen Mother.
Only two finished in the other division which went to the previously unraced Master Hooper, ridden by Matt Hampton. Julie Purdie owns and trains this sturdy home bred Kayf Tara six-year-old at Butterleigh, Devon. “He is still a bit burly and is the fourth winner out of Rempstone who won a point-to-point for us,” said Julie’s husband Sax.
The 15 runners for the concluding Maiden were despatched at 4.40 in gathering gloom. Big Georgie saw out the trip best under James Ridley to step up on his promising effort at Chaddesley Corbett. This strong gelding is trained by the jockey’s mother Heather for owner Alastair McLeish at Newent, Gloucestershire. “We do plenty of work and jumping over an old cross country course at home,” said the rider.
Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at www.westcountryvideos.co.uk
The following photographers were at the meeting: Bath Photographic (Marcus Bath), Brian Armstrong, David Strange, Equus Prints (Stephen Wensley),John Beasley, Phil Britt, Simon Burgess, Sporting Prints (Alun Sedgemore), Tim Holt and Turfpix (Tracy Roberts)
Sunday 2nd February, Mid Devon Point-To-Point, Black Forest Lodge. Entries for the Mid Devon close at 12 noon, Monday 27th January for the Point-To-Point and this Saturday for the pony racing.