WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR AND DONNA HARRIS
“Tis a game beyond gainsaying, made by the Gods for brave men’s playing”
William Henry Ogilvie 1869-1963
A warm day at this picturesque location on the edge of Dartmoor, and plenty of runners on the drying ground to entertain a large crowd.
JEPECK, owned by Jon Pike, took his career tally into double figures by putting up a game performance to land the Mixed Open at Cherrybrook.
Carrying a 9 lbs penalty, Jamie Thomas nursed his mount into contention to get the better of Iron Chancellor jumping the last. “He is a lovely horse but the ground was a bit too fast for him today,” reported the jockey, a remark endorsed by trainer Kayley Woollacott, who said, “He is so tough and the ground was as quick as he could manage. We skipped Taunton (hunter chase) because of the ground there and need to find some soft ground. Cheltenham is still a possibility.”
It had been a traumatic week for the Woollacott’s following the fatal accident to one of their owner/riders James McNeile in a fall at Larkhill last weekend. One minutes silence was observed in memory of the 57-year-old jockey at Cherrybrook on Sunday as a mark of respect from the point-to-point community.
Jo Buck was in top form, winning on her only mounts Dicky Bob and Its All Or Nothing, co-incidentally both greys.
Dicky Bob won the Hunt race for the third year in succession for his owner/trainer Verity Nicholls, and is another pointer looking for rain. “I am not sure where he goes next but will keep him ticking along and wouldn’t rule out Cheltenham (evening hunter chase meeting May 5th). He needs a bit of loose schooling,” said Verity, alluding to the fact that the ten-year-old got a bit low at some of his fences. “He spooked at everything but we got into a nice rhythm,” reported his confident rider. A first time race ride by the Spooners hunt master Henry Bailey in this event ended when he parted company with Sean Airgead at the eighth fence.
Jo Buck’s double was completed when Its All Or Nothing stayed on well to hold the favourite Rockinrolldixie in the Confined. This was another case of horses for courses since the Terimon gelding was recording his third win on this undulating track. “The best jumper I have ridden,” enthused the successful jockey. “He loves this ground and is so laid back,” remarked Charlotte Rowe who trains the winner at Tedburn St Mary for owner Rob White, who is considering the Cheltenham four-miler for his charge.
Darren Edwards had finished runner-up on the Dean Summersby trained Rockinrolldixie, and filled a similar position on the same yard’s Carrignagapple in the 14-runner Open Maiden won by newcomer Mr Washington. The pair battled it out on the run-in with four-year-old Mr Washington thrusting his head in front in the last few strides. The winner is a rangy type by the four-time Irish St Leger winner Vinnie Roe, who was bought at Tattersalls Fairyhouse sales last August. Owned by Jill Dennis and her niece Sarah, the promising gelding runs in the well known Dennis family colours carried by Hennessy Gold Cup winner Coome Hill, who won the Restricted on this course in his pointing days
Champion lady point-to-point jockey Gina Andrews has a useful lead in her quest for a third successive lady riders’ title, and clocked up another winner here on Excitable Island in the Intermediate. Owner/trainer Nigel Padfield sent his charge on a 520 miles round trip to take in the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate qualifier, and their journey was justified as the good looking ten-year-old just held the strong finishing Inch Rock. He said, “It was a five hours trip but he is a big horse and the ground is too fast in the Essex area. He was third in the Connolly’s Final (at Cheltenham) last year and it will be ground dependant where he goes.” The winning jockey described Excitable Island as, “A lovely ride who jumps and stays. This is my first ever visit to this course,” she added, whilst admiring the Dartmoor scenery.
11 of the 12 entries went to post for the Restricted which was a qualifier for the Subaru restricted Series Final at Stratford-On-Avon in June. In a driving finish, Little Billy Boy just held Samuel Jackson by a neck, with front running Steel Brush a close third. The winner was following up his Great Trethew Maiden victory to provide Milborne Port trainer Anna Bacon with her second success, so not surprisingly she described him as “An absolute darling and I ride him out every day.”