“The very spirit of summer breathes to-day,
Here where I sun me in a dreamy mood,
And laps the sultry leas, and seems to brood
Tenderly o’er those hazed hills far away.
The air is fragrant with the new-mown hay,
No scrap of cloud is in the still blue sky,”

From a poem When June Is Here – by James Whitcomb Riley – American poet 1849 – 1916

Yes not a scrap of cloud on a lovely warm afternoon which attracted a large crowd to the Exmoor meeting at Bratton Down, which featuring a riding double for the up and coming County Cork born jockey Bryan Carver.

The young Irishman certainly got the best out of the gambled on Reillys Minor to win the Men’s Open. A smooth ride from Carver saw the seven-year-old repel the favourite Before The War (Will Biddick) on the uphill climb to the judge. “He jumps and travels and I really got there too soon,” reported the rider. Mike Vanstone trains the winner locally for owner Alex Muirhead, who gave up the ride after two unsuccessful and non finishing attempts earlier in the season. “I bought the horse from Warren Greatrex last summer. He had won at Kempton last year so we knew he had ability. I thought he needed a stronger jockey,” said the owner. He certainly did. Bryan Carver is now favourite to secure the Devon & Cornwall Novice Riders’ championship.

Bryan Carver completed his double on Port Navas in the Open Maiden.. It is ironical that Bryan’s day job is assisting Will Biddick at the champion point-to-point rider’s pre-training and breaking yard, and presumably he still has that job after beating his mentor again in a tight finish to the Open Maiden. Biddick looked to be in the box seat as Redmond Hall cleared the last, but Port Navas gradually got the upper hand as the pair battled all the way up the run in. The winner, a Court Cave seven-year-old, was placed over hurdles when in David Pipe’s yard, but has taken some time to repay the 41,000 euros he cost as a three-year-old. He is now trained by Teresa Clark for owners John White and his sister Anne Underhill. It looks odds-on at present that Biddick will have to have to hand over his National jockeys title to Alex Edwards, but he has now adopted pole position for the Devon & Cornwall equivalent.

Angles Hill is one of the best looking pointers in training, and made up for his recent narrow Bratton Down defeat with a convincing six lengths success in the Ladies’ Open. Bouggietopieces did best of the three Welsh challengers to finish runner up, but the South Pembrokeshire gelding Hold Court never looked like justifying hot favouritism. Heidi Lewis was content to sit off the early pace on Angles Hill, but the 11-year-old was produced three out and drew right away up the final climb. “He has to be switched off and loves passing horses,” explained the 21-year-old winning jockey about this family horse, jointly owned by Heidi, her father David and partner Lee Drowne, and is trained by her mother Maria. .

Tree Sparrow had been a staying on third at the previous meeting here and came good this time under his regular jockey Vicky Wade. In a three way finish, the winner finished strongly alongside the outside running rail to deny Lawsons Thorns and Raloo Rocket. Owner John Pengelly was enjoying his first winner, who was saddled by Camilla Scott. “He just gallops and gallops and bounces off quick ground,” remarked the trainer, adding that this relatively cheap purchase is related to County Derry who won 17 races for the Scott yard.

It was the turn of another lady jockey as Ella Pickard made all the running on Cinevator, blinkered for the first time, in the Conditions race. On Your Max was looking dangerous when falling with Tom Chanin at the penultimate fence, leaving Winter Garden (Nick Lawton) as the main challenger up the home straight. Cinevator was not for catching however and powered up the finishing hill to give his jockey her third winner of the season. The 11-year-old is trained by his rider on behalf of her grandfather Michael Tucker.

The Hunt race produced a family success as the easy winner Kapricorne runs in the colours of Dennis Branton and is trained by his daughter Rebecca. 21-year-old jockey Stefan Kirwan, in his fourth year working for Philip Hobbs, sent his mount well clear after half way to record his second career victory. “I have been trying to win this race for 20 years,” said the Exford based winning owner, who bought Kapricorne unseen out of Dan Skelton’s yard. “Rebecca does a good job looking after our horses at our stables which are at the White Horse Inn at Exford, added the owner.


Tim Holt, John Beasley, Megan Cobley, Marcus Bath, and William Devlin


Westcountry Videos filmed the meeting, order on 01884 840403 or through the website later in the week at

Upcoming Event

  • Sunday 10th June 2018 Tiverton Staghounds, Bratton Down, Bratton Fleming, Exmoor EX31 4SG. 1st Race 2.00pm
  • Saturday 16th June 2018 Torrington Farmers, Chapelton Barton, Umberleigh EX37 9EB. 1st Race 2.00pm

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