Buckfastleigh racecourse is full of history. Holidaymakers travelling down the A38 may notice the old derelict grandstand, a bit of a wreck and camouflaged by vegetation, overlooking the course.
In his book A Long Time Gone, author Chris Pitt describes the old grandstand as “A Mary Celeste ; a reminder of days long gone, even though the racecourse it once served has been brought back to life.”
That racecourse has been brought back to life for point-to-points after a chequered history. It was first used as a National Hunt course in June 1883 until its closure in August 1960. Point-to-point racing then took place between 1963 and 1977 when it closed again. A re-birth took place in 1998 which leads us to the present day. The whole history of Buckfastleigh and South Brent Races is wonderfully described by my good friend, the late Peter Wakeham in his book of that name.
Anyway, after that potted history lesson, here is the consequence of last Sunday’s jousting between 16 bookies and an army of punters at Buckfastleigh:-
Score draw: PUNTERS 4 BOOKIES 4
The old enemy soon got the favourite beaten in the first of three maidens. The Frost’s Robin Longstride (5-2 to 2’a) was the surprising market choice considering how many chances he has had. Biddick’s mount Wallabrook drifted from 7-4 to 9-4 and just failed to cope with the Welsh gelding Bracho who was friendless from 10’s out to 16’s. This 5-year-old is another product of the Brace stallion Dr Massini and had evidently benefited from his run in the Barbury bumper.
Tom Chanin achieved his 50th winner in the saddle when Ballyristeen (4-5 out to 6-4 fav) put his string of placings behind him in the second maiden. Runner-up Tavira (12’s to 6’s) caught the eye on her second racecourse appearance. She is sure to progress for the Dennis family.
The In Thing (3’s out to 5’s) made his four-year-old weight concession pay in the third and final Maiden in a tight finish with Troed Y Mellin (7-4 to 9-4 fav) and newcomer Wind Tor, who was not wanted on his debut ( 9’s / 10’s), but is worth noting for a similar race, Steeltown took a walk in the market for the Men’s Open (9-4 out to 4’s), as money came for the useful mare Miss Gotaway (6-4 fav from 2’s) Will Biddick rode a canny race on the mare, delaying his effort until the home straight until overhauling front running Steeltown.
Roseyroo (evens out to 6-4 fav) looked well before the Intermediate, but never looked like getting to grips with Dunraven Royal (7-2 touched 4’s) or Fishy Story (5-2 to 2’s), who had a contretemps on the final bend. This coming together resulted in Fishy Story ending up just inside the marker with her disqualification from first place inevitable.
The Ladies’ Open was a more sedate affair with Dicky Bob (1-2 fav, opened 4-6 in a place). comfortably holding his main pursuer Skylander (solid 5’s).
Odds-on chances continued to thrive thanks to Fly West (4-7 to 1-2) in the Subaru qualifier, but Railway Storm (evens to 1-3) could only manage second place in the getting out stakes despite the assistance of the in-form Bryany Frost. Beuvron (6-4) won this event for the second year in succession under the talented Hannah Welch.