THE organisers of the South Pool Harriers deserve enormous credit for enabling this meeting to go ahead.
Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the land owners, surplus water had been pumped off the course throughout the week to defeat the recent deluge. There were no problems in getting on and off the course car park.
The going was officially soft with heavy patches, but the jockeys I spoke with reported that the track rode extremely well.
This is the Devon & Cornwall Area classic race for previous winners only with a purse of £1,000. Punters backed last year’s winner Lucette Annie into warm favouritism , but the local mare faced stiff opposition from 11 opponents, which included three times hunter chase winner Kirkleigh, and the in form Iron Chancellor.
Lucette Annie and Googoobarabajagal disputed the lead until Kirkleigh took over after the final ditch. Lucette Annie was a spent force two out, but Minella Stars emerged as the challenger and held a fractional lead when Kirkleigh blundered at the last. Despite his regular habit of idling on the run in, Minella Stars (Robbie Henderson) held off the rallying Kirkleigh (Tom Chanin) with Lucette Annie (Darren Edwards) finishing a tired third.
Owned by Robbie’s parents Guy and Sophie Henderson, nine-year-old Minella Stars was having his fifth race of the season having already won at Chaddesley Corbett and Larkhill. “He has won almost as much money as a hunter chase here,” smiled Guy, who trains the ex-Paul Nicholls gelding at Shaftesbury, Dorset. “He enjoys passing horses and will have an entry for the Cheltenham Foxhunter. He has hunted 15 times this season,” added the trainer who has four pointers in his yard this season.
Robbie Henderson, who will surely be to the fore in the Devon & Cornwall area championship this year, had initiated his double on Blazing Whale in the Confined. This Classic Cliché gelding, trained by Ed Walker on behalf of himself and Francis Read, had struck winning form at ChipleyPark and relished the testing ground to score convincingly here. “He may go for a maiden hunter chase at Leicester and is qualified for the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate,” said the trainer. Runner up Jive Master had some good bumper form on his CV and was given a fine ride by 20-year-old Callum Curtis, well tutored by his boss Nigel Hawke.
BabenyBridge had finished a close runner up to Blazing Whale at Chipley, and that clue was sufficient to see him backed into 11-10 favourite for this Exeter Racecourse Intermediate qualifier. The five-year-old made no mistake and readily held off the challenge of Shanann Star to score by six lengths. Named after a clapper bridge near Dartmeet, Devon, the winner is owned jointly by his trainer Jane Williams and Roger Stark, BabenyBridge was giving his 16-year-old rider Chester Williams his second winning ride out of only four attempts. “We got the horse at Doncaster sales for £5,000. He is a horse for the future and is better on soft going,” enthused the trainer who is also the young rider’s mother. Course winner Shanann Star missed the whole of last season and made an encouraging come back.
MARES & FILLIES MAIDEN
Another young jockey to shine was 18-year-old Bryony Frost, who followed up her Larkhill winner last Saturday (February 8th) by winning the final two races, saddled by her mother Nikki. Red Penny initiated the double, staying on well to take the Mares and Fillies Maiden at the expense of the Welsh challenger Nurse Brace. Red Penny’s owner Margaret Sherrington had travelled from Staffordshire and said,” I bought her privately as a brood mare because the family goes back to Dawn Run.”
The Zara Phillips trained Devils Boys proved an expensive failure in the Restricted, the 11-8 favourite fading out of contention after looking the likely winner coming off the top bend. This gave Bryony the opportunity to complete her double on the home bred family gelding Brackenwood . “He is a real stayer and would go four miles but we nearly missed this race because he had an over reach on Thursday,” explained Nikki Frost.
HORSES & GELDINGS CONFINED MAIDEN
The Confined Maiden for horses and geldings went to Diamond Eclipse in the capable hands of Lucy Gardner. Newcomer Dicky Bob caught the eye in finishing second, but the winner’s experience won the day. The winner is stabled with Emma Loosemore near Crediton. “I have Nick Williams’ resting horses and we bought this one for only £500. He likes soft ground,” reported Emma.
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: Turfpix (Tracy Roberts), Brian Armstrong and David Strange
- Saturday 1st March, East Devon Point-To-Point, Bishops Court
- Sunday 9th March, Dulverton Farmers Point-To-Point, Treborough Hill
- Saturday 15th March, (Rescheduled) Western Point-To-Point, Wadebridge