LUCETTE ANNIE loves Upcott Cross and scored her third course success in the Men’s Open. Although soft ground is probably a pre-requisite, all distances come alike to the consistent mare who had won over four miles at this track six weeks ago.
Simon Partridge trains the ten-year-old for owners Chris and Janet Hunphrey. “This will be her last race this season but we will try to get her in early for pointing next year. It would be nice to win another hunter chase with her before she is put into foal,” said the Poundsgate trainer. Lucette Annie was actually emulating her grandam Ancella in achieving her 10th point-to-point victory.
Jockey Darren Edwards, who was recovering from a bout of flu, reported, “I was happy to have some company in this small field until the top of the hill,” The mare strode clear from the third last.
Jamie Thomas rode Steeltown to finish runner up to Lucette Annie, and went one better to land his ninth winner of the season as King Kash just lasted home ahead of Carheney River in the Confined. The winner is owned jointly by John Gardener and John Burrow and is trained by Kayley Woollacott. “King Kash is one of our best horses at home,” remarked Kayley. “He missed last season but ran really well at Cothelstone on his return before some disappointing efforts. First time blinkers and tongue time have helped today,” she added.
Megan Nicholls is going all out in a bid to win the National Novice Riders’ title and a double courtesy of the Rose Loxton trained pair of Current Event and Join Together lifted her tally for the season to 15.
Bryony Frost on Red Penny provided the only opposition to the 1-4 favourite Current Event in the Ladies’ Open, and nearly pulled off a shock when launching a challenge at the penultimate fence. The favourite had a bit in hand however and soon put the issue beyond doubt with a decisive finishing kick. Formerly a winner six times under rules, seven-year-old Current Event has proved invaluable towards Megan’s title bid. He was scoring for the fourth time this month. “This is his first run in a Ladies’ Open and I would think he will now stick to point-to-pointing and hunter chasing. He used to bleed a lot under rules and is now getting his confidence in races,” explained Paul Nicholls.
The Wendy Fogg owned Join Together has also enjoyed his resurgence in the pointing field and was recording his fifth consecutive success of the season in the Novice Riders’ event. This time the young rider was content to wait until the home straight before sending her mount into an unassailable lead.
“These two winners today will be entered for Bratton Down in two weeks time but Gwanako, (who has won seven points this season) is being roughed off,” commented Paul Nicholls.
The veteran pointer Clew Bay Cove retains remarkable enthusiasm and gave his 18-year-old owner/rider Harriet Skinner her second career success in the Confined. Harriett has a pony club and hunting background and works in the yard of Ed Walker where her gallant 14-year-old is trained.
It stayed dry all afternoon, but the ground at Upcott was very soft, with all race times in excess of seven minutes. Bryony Frost still leads the Devon & Cornwall Ladies’ championship, and just failed to add to her 10 winners this season on Wivannie in the first maiden. Catherine Atkinson sent Walker Ridge to the front four fences out and just held off Wivannie in a head bobbing finish. The winner is owned by the Atkinson family – point-to-point supporters in the Cattistock country for years – and is trained by the rider’s mother Nicky. “I have just finished my law degree in London and owe all this to my parents,” said the 28-year-old rider.
Lucy Gardner gave a positive ride to Brave Encounter to win the second Maiden section. This six-year-old, bought as a store at Doncaster three years ago, looks a big, strong chasing type and made virtually all the running. “He travelled easily and is a chaser in the making. He will come back in the autumn and go straight over fences,” said Lucy who trains the gelding for owner Brenda Russell.
Print the Money proved an expensive failure in the Confined. Early 2-1 was snapped up, including a bet of £400 to £200. He was as low as 10-11 as the tapes went up, but could not peg back the winner Clew Bay Cove (5-2 out to 3’s)
Megan Nicholls looks long odds on now to clinch the National Ladies’ Novice title and her two winners each started at prohibitive odds. Current Event was sent off at 1-4 and duly landed the odds. Join Together was 12th in last year’s Grand National and this must have seemed a stroll in the park for the 1-3 shot.
I kicked myself for not taking 14-1 about the Restricted winner King Kash (100 to 7 if you ask nicely) in the Restricted. The application of first time blinkers and a tongue strap spoke volumes and his previous running on fast ground could be discounted. In the event however I judge that the fast finishing runner up Carheney River (evens) was unlucky. There was money in this race for Diamond Eclipse (13-2 into 3.s) and Sunset City (25’s to 16’s). These are both in shrewd yards and are worth keeping an eye on.
The majority of the 13 runners in the first Open Maiden took the normal drift out route in the market. An exception was Andy Grey – wonderfully named and grey of course but keeps reminding me of the footballer Andy Gray – seen at 25-1 before settling at 16’s. He had the misfortune to slip up on the bottom bend. Wivannie keeps threatening to win a Maiden and this trip in the soft looked ideal for her. She was cut from 3-1 to 5-2 but again found one too good.
There was plenty of betting activity in the concluding Maiden. The winner Brave Encounter looks a fine prospect and justified support from 10-1 into 11-2. Runner up Sutton Storm drifted from 7-4 to 9-4, whilst Gleann Ri (12’s to 7’s) and Nudge The Nugget (12’s to 6’s) kept on in the closing stages .
Results of the South Tetcott meeting
Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at www.westcountryvideos.co.uk
The following professional photographers were at the meeting: Baths photographic (Marcus Bath), Brian Armstrong, David Strange, Horse Events UK, Tim Holt and Turfpix (Tracy Roberts)
Sunday 1st June, Exmoor Point-To-Point, Bratton Down (near Bratton Fleming)