A good crowd saw a total of 74 runners contesting nine races at Great Trethew featuring doubles for jockeys Robbie Henderson and Darren Edwards.
Henderson rode a confident race on Blazing Whale to win the Mixed Open which saw the odds-on favourite Byerley Bear (Leanda Tickle) well held in third. Currently the leading horse in the country with five wins this season, the normal front running Byerley Bear could only finish third after being hassled for the lead, firstly by Almail and then by Valentine Vic.
Robbie Henderson pounced on his rivals before the second last and it was left to Wee Fly and Bryony Frost to follow the winner home as Byerley Bear faded.
Owned jointly by his trainer Ed Walker and Francis Read, Blazing Whale was described as, “progressive and a good stayer who tries really hard,” by his in- form jockey. Byerley Bear could be seen out next on Easter Monday at Trebudannon and can hopefully regain his winning form.
24-year-old Henderson went on to ride his 17th winner of the season with a similar late thrust on Kings Bench to take the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate qualifier. “He is a hold up horse and I hope we can go to the Exeter final. He has taken time to gain his confidence and his owner Laura Claydon has been so patient,” remarked trainer Marie McGuinness.
Despite a brave effort, Shanann Star was just touched off by Kings Bench, but her rider Darren Edwards more than made up for that by winning both sections of the Open Maiden for four to seven-year-olds which had to be divided on the day.
Droim Rua jumped his 11 rivals into submission in the first section to win by the length of the run-in. “I bought him out of a bog in Donegal last July and he was a bit fizzy to start with,” smiled Newton Ferrers owner/ trainer David Rogers who paid tribute to his work rider Sarah Boxenhall.
Darren had to work harder as the promising five-year-old Sykes stayed on well to hold off Way Before Dawn in the other division. “We bought Sykes at the Derby sales as a three-year-old and he will be better next year when he strengthens up,” commented trainer Nicola Martin.
Another nice youngster in the shape of the previously unraced mare Theatre Goer took the Open Maiden limited to four and five-year-olds. Ian Chanin had the leg up on Theatre Goer, trained by his father Robert for owners Roger Knowles and Annie Argyrides. “She has a lovely attitude and is easy to train. Her half brother has been placed in a listed bumper and she will probably be offered for sale at Cheltenham,” commented the trainer.
The handsome grey Fountains Cloud won the Hunt race for the third successive year for local owners David and Angela Stephens. “He loves it here, especially coming down the hill,” said rider Leanda Tickle.
Leanda was just denied a double on My Rebel whose late run just failed to peg back Whenharrymetsally (Matt Hampton) in the Restricted. The winner is a good looking six-year-old who won her Maiden on this track last year. “She needs soft ground,” remarked trainer Keith Cumings who bought the Kings Theatre mare for owners Hannah and Andrew Broggio at Fairyhouse as a four-year-old.
Not many horses run in the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase en route to Great Trethew, but Shalimar Fromentro did just that last October. The eight-year-old is also a regular on the cross country circuits in France, so jumping was never going to be a problem in the Novice Riders’ contest. Chester Williams had the mount on this occasion and the grey was always travelling well before giving his 16-year-old schoolboy rider his fifth winner of the season. “Chester has a chance of winning the National Novice Riders’ title and this horse will stay pointing before going for French cross country races again,” remarked Jane Williams.
It was good to see Numide (Michael Heard) get his head in front for the first time in three years in the Confined. This 11-year-old is a veteran of over 60 races and has won his various owners more than £200,000 in his time. He is now the pride and joy of Gordon Chambers. “He was once fifth in the French Derby and is one of the nicest horses in the yard. Even I ride him, said Gordon.
Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at www.westcountryvideos.co.uk