Written by Donna Harris
It’s the turn of the East Devon Hunt to host their meeting at Bishops Court, Ottery St Mary on Sunday 3rd March. Seven races are on offer with a start time of Noon. Over 140 entries have been received and it’s set to be another competitive days racing.
The Michael Pidsley & Son-sponsored Mixed Open is the feature race of the day and is a qualifier for the Timico final in May at Cheltenham, also a qualifier for the Skinners Ladies open at Stratford at the end of May. Bruton based trainer Rose Loxton’s entry Caid Du Berlais stands out, being a previous Hunter Chase winner at Punchestown last season, has previously clocked up some decent form under rules, and this could be a warm up for the 10 year-old gelding who holds an entry in the Foxhunter Open Hunter Chase at the Cheltenham festival. Rose Loxton holds an impressive 51% strike rate with her Pointers and is assisted by her husband Sam at their farm base. Blackwater Bramble is also among the 23 entries here, and trainer Alexandra Dunn would be looking for another bold run to add to his wins at Larkhill and Buckfastleigh. Five time Point winner Fly West is an entry for local trainer Ed Walker, he ran three lengths second at Barbury last weekend under jockey Will Biddick, who will look to take the ride again if Caid Du Berlais bypasses this meeting.
The Walker team have a good strike rate at this course and will have many chances here including recent Buckfastleigh winner Wind Tor, in the opening East Devon Associates-sponsored Members race, who would be a popular winner for owners The Otter Club. They could come up against dual Wadebridge winner Raddon Top (Les Jefford) under the skilful hands of jockey Bryan Carver. Crown Of Thorns (Sarah Pidsley) came home an impressive 12 length winner at Buckfastleigh, having taken his maiden impressively at Chipley Park and is another option for Will Biddick to ride if not riding Wind Tor.
Crown Of Thorns also holds an entry in the Exeter Racecourse-sponsored Intermediate race which could be a preferred option for connections, they could come up against Awesome Tunes another out of the Ed Walker yard. Awesome Tunes ran a neck second to Ballyhowe at Wadebridge under Josh Newman, who looks to be taking the ride again. Barbury November meeting winner Lily’s Got Wings(Julie Wadland) and Tree Sparrow (Camila Scott) a dual Bratton winner, are two others catching the eye in what looks to be another competitive race.
WBW Solicitors sponsor the Novice riders race, with previous course winner Dicky Bob holding an entry. He could improve on his second to Monsieur Gibraltar at Larkhill under young Tomasina Eyston. Connections of Heaney will be hoping for rain to soften the ground, he has won or been placed in all seven starts for the Wonnacott team under Millie Wonnacott, and their recent win at Chipley Park is sure to put them among the favourites here. Hello George owned trained and ridden by Nathan Vergne, had some decent NH form with a hurdle win at Newbury in 2017 when trained by Phillip Hobbs, and they could be ones to follow if he takes to Pointing.
The Restricted race is sponsored by Harris Timber Products, this has attracted entries from Raging Fire (Michael Felton) along with George’s Legacy (Joe Tickle), both won their maiden races in similar times at Chipley Park. Raging Fire under Will Biddick scored that day six lengths ahead of Minimalistic, the latter has since won in style scoring by 15 lengths at Buckfastleigh. George’s Legacy has the benefit of a weight allowance which could prove crucial up the home straight. Skinflint holds an entry for the Supple team, and could follow up on their two length win at Great Trethew last weekend if staying fresh. Journey Juice holds the hopes for the Walker team and could go close if following up on their second at Buckfastleigh, and would appreciate a sound surface.
There are two Open Maiden races, the first for four,five and six-year old sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers. A Tipple Or Two has hinted at ability for trainer Caroline Keevil with a recent third at Barbury. Trainer Stuart Sampson holds two entries in this race with Susie Staples and Takeabid. Peace Plan and Sylvies Dance are two un-raced fillies from Will Biddick’s yard, with any market support should be worth noting. Will also has the option to ride Thestopperdunne for Tom Malone, and they could improve on their third to Raging Fire at Chipley Park.
Finally up is the Otter Brewery-sponsored Open Maiden race for seven year-olds and over in which among the 32 entries are Wadebridge runner-up Rare Oul Times (Ed Walker), Buckfastleigh runner-up Neetside (Jill Dennis) and Ex Irish import having clocked up two runner up places there Could Be Better ( Stuart Sampson).
This meeting usually sees the first of the spring weather drawing out picnic racegoers in their hundreds. For those wishing to sample the delights on course there will be plenty of stands offering hot food and refreshments, bar, bookies and a number of country trade-stands. Entrance to the course is £10 per person to a max of £40 per car. Children under 16 free. Dogs on leads welcome. The track is located at Bishops Court, Ottery St Mary. Postcode EX11 1RJ.
Met Office 5 day forecast: Ottery St Mary, 1.2 miles from EX11 1RJ
BBC Travel News: Devon
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