“O wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822

There was quite a stiff breeze on a cloudy afternoon in the superb setting of Buckfastleigh racecourse.  Will Biddick and Byron Moorcroft each scored doubles.

Biddick’s patient ride on Miss Gotaway paid off in the Men’s Open as the champion jockey swooped on long time leader Steeltown after jumping the last. Jamie Thomas had tried to make all on Steeltown, but the weight concession to the mare proved just too much. Biddick said, “It was a hard race and she fought hard. I needed every inch of her to win.” Miss Gotaway, by Midnight Legend, is trained by Ed Walker for her owner Audrey Goodwin, who said, “She is home bred and has now won three times at Buckfastleigh. She will stay pointing now.”

Fly West also came out of the Ed Walker yard to give Will Biddick his 17th winner of the season in the Subaru Restricted qualifier. The winner jumped into the lead at the final ditch and managed to shake off the sustained challenge of recent course winner She’s Dapper after the penultimate fence. Fly West was bought in Ireland after finishing runner up in three Maidens there. The Westerner gelding opened his account in this country after a year on the sidelines two weeks ago at Didmarton.

Bracho was the first leg of Byron Moorcroft’s double in the first of three divisions of the Open Maiden run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs. This was yet another Devon and Cornwall area winner for the David Brace yard. The home bred five-year-old Dr Massini gelding took over approaching the second last and shook off the challenge of runner-up Wallabrook round the final bend. “I think he is better than his half brother Bringinthebranston, who won five point-to-points for us,” said the Pyle, near Bridgend based owner/trainer.

Byron Moorcroft also wore the Brace colours to complete his double in the Connolly’s Red Mills qualifying Intermediate. This time it was not all plain sailing since his mount Dunraven Royal passed the post four lengths behind Fishy Story (Matt Hampton). The original winner and runner-up had fought side by side down the hill after the second last, and were still locked together when Fishy Story ran out of room and went just inside the marker on the final bend. “It was a shame about that,” reflected the winning owner, who was obviously reluctant to gain a prize in these circumstances. He added, “my horse had sore shins last year but wants quicker ground. He could go to the Cheltenham Final.”

Dicky Bob made no mistake in the Skinner’s Ladies’ Open, galloping clear of Skylander in the testing ground to score by 20 lengths. Winning jockey Jo Buck had no qualms about her mounts stamina and said, “It was hard work but he just keeps galloping.” Owner/ trainer Verity Nicholls has her eye on the Members’ at Cherrybrook which he won last year and said. “He could go to Spooners’ (at Cherrybrook) and then a hunter chase. It was like watching a silent movie today because there was no sound from the loudspeakers where I was.”    

Tom Chanin clocked up his half century in the saddle when getting Ballyristeen home in the second Open Maiden. “He is a lovely young horse who came from Ireland. He stays well but will need better ground,” reported the rider, whose weekend had started with a winner at Cothelstone on the previous day. “He ran too freely really but will learn to settle. He might run at Kilworthy next Sunday.” said Tom’s father Robert who trains the five-year-old for owners Tony and Eileen Worth.

19-year-old Henry Morshead, who works for Kim Bailey, is chasing Lorcan Williams for the National Novice title and enjoyed a rare Devon & Cornwall area success on The In Thing in the third Open Maiden. The four-year-old is owned jointly by Francesca Nimmo and Charlie Poste, and trained by Francesca at Ettinger near Stratford –Upon-Avon, who said, “We have always liked him since we bought him at the Derby sale in Ireland last June. He is for sale.

The Hunt race went to course specialist Beuvron (Hannah Welch) who stayed on well to beat Railway Storm, just denying Bryony Frost with a follow up to her Cheltenham Foxhunter success. The winner is trained by Sam Holdsworth for owner Charles Stanley who operates Stanley Carpets.  19-year-old Hannah Welch works for the Sophie Leech yard whilst her mount has made a good recovery from an injury sustained at Flete Park last April. Well done to 65-year-old Mark Smith, who rode his own Nudge and Nurdle (eventually pulled up) to raise money for charity in this race exactly 50 years after his last ride as a 15-year-old in this same Buckfastleigh race.