The form book held up well on Bank Holiday Monday with five favourites obliging on a competitive card.
A total of 64 runners faced the starter in the seven races. Bank holidaymakers helped to swell the crowd on a warm, sunny day, and kept the 13 bookies busy.
Back In June has proved to be a progressive pointer this year from the Heard yard. The Bach gelding was backed from 5’s into 5-2 fav to win the opening 12-runner Confined, and benefited from a patient ride from 20-year-old Jake Bament. He just got the better of It’s All Or Nothing (4’s into 11-4) with King’s Bench (7-2) running his usual sound race in third. Back In June’s form under rules included a good second in the Mandarin chase at Newbury just over two years ago before being picked up at the sales last year.
Indiana Bay (11-8/6-4) was a solid favourite for the Men’s Open and scored in very easy fashion, ridden for the first time by Darren Edwards. Certain Flight (5-2 to 2’s) looked well in his attempt to follow up his recent course win, but was pulled up approaching the last when out of contention. The best backed horse in the race was Welsh challenger Really Unique (4’s into 7-4). Formerly a useful handicap hurdler in Ireland, he had won easily at Bredwardine recently, but got tired here after being prominent for a long way.
The next market leader to oblige was the lightly raced six-year-old Vards (always tight in the market, SP evens touched 5-4) who scored under a strong Will Biddick ride in the Restricted. There was little opposition to Vards in the market. Runner up Minella Arts (drifted out to 20’s) ran really well to be beaten a short head, but the 16-strong field included three 100-1 shots. Vards is from a very good pointing / hunter chase family which includes Ladybank, Sally Furlong (won the United Hunts Challenge Cup at Cheltenham when it was a proper race) and Pensham. Vards needs to improve his jumping, but gave trainer Jack Barber his 50th pointing winner of the season.
The succession of winning favourites continued when the in form Watch The Birdie (1-3 / 4-9) flew home in the Ladies’ Open. The only problem for jockey Hannah Lewis came in the preliminaries when the birdie threw her off twice, “Tongue tie bothering her,” was Hannah’ s explanation. No problem in the race though, and Watch The Birdie scored her ninth career victory with the minimum of fuss.
The Novice Riders’ race was a bit of a headache for punters. Once again, quite a few of the 10 runners could be fancied. Cinevator (6-4 fav) was looking for his seasonal four-timer, but Ella Pickard’s mount was on the retreat as Top Chief (9-4), Absolutely Bygones (14’s to 12’s) and Archie Rice (6’s / 11-2) swept past on the top bend. A blanket finish saw Archie Rice home by a neck with Absolutely Bygones running a cracker, just in front of Top Chief. Although quite a tall young man, 18-year-old Hugo Hunt on the Frost trained winner looked very accomplished (good pony racing background) and has already ridden a few winners on the flat and won a steeplechase on his first ride in that sphere at Ascot.
Back In June had won his Maiden at Trebudannon in April, and keen eyes will have noted that Tetralogy followed him home that day with Withchesintune third. The placed horses won their divisions of the South Tetcott Maiden on Monday. I thought that the Frost trained Witchesintune (5-2 to 7-4 fav) was impressive under Bryony Frost (her 50th pointing winner). Tetralogy (firm at 7-2) stays well and was left clear when She’s Dapper fell four out.
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: Tim Holt, Marcus Bath, Roger Peaple, William Devlin and Megan Cobley
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