It was inevitable that four local fixtures in nine days would lead to a scarcity of runners. Fortunately our area did not suffer the fate of the meeting at Charing, Kent on Easter Saturday, where four of the six scheduled races produced a walk over.
The course organisers at both Upcott Cross (Eggesford) and Stafford Cross (Axe Vale) can be congratulated for providing safe, watered ground, but no meeting can expect decent fields if there are not enough pointers to go round. There was a stiff wind against the runners in the home straight, not very nice for watching too
Betting is naturally sluggish in three or four runner races and this was the case at both fixtures last weekend. The only certainty was that Will Biddick would be ducked in the paddock water trough by his riding colleagues if he broke the record for number of career winners, and this he did courtesy of a double with Crown of Thorns (4-7 fav) and Kernel Victor (1-2 fav).
Herbert Park (2-5 to 1-2) was another odds-on winner in the Mixed Open . He was out with the washing at the top of the home straight as Saffron Wells (4’s to 7-2) raced 20 lengths clear down the hill, but a cool ride from young Fergus Gillard saw Herbert Park swoop into the lead at the last.
The layers tale of woe continued as both sections of the Open Maiden went to the short priced jollys. Bookmaker David Phillips sponsored the first division and had to fork out more as Banco de Logos (evens) beat Willaldo (9-1). The winner has taken a while to get his head in front after his good run behind the smart Road to Rome at Buckfastleigh, but did little wrong here.
Dr Kananga started 6-4 favourite in the other division and shook off the challenge of 25-1 outsider Poniel. Five-year-old Dr Kananga is a likeable sort who ran very well behind Famous Response at Great Trethew after winning his bumper at Ffos Las in desperate ground. Second Captain (9-2 to 4’s) came out of the clouds to finish third.
The young horses Maiden went to the rangy four-year-old Getaround (6-4 joint fav) who came clear of the other joint fav Largy Mountain from the penultimate. They are each capable of stepping up in class.
Navanman (1-2 to 4-9 fav) suffered a rare reversal in his own Hunt race which attracted just three runners. River Myth (5-4 to 6-4) is in good form however and took command a long way out. She was completing a hat trick.
The only long priced winner on the day was Ballybruff (100 to 8) in the Restricted. Not the most consistent of animals, he had more letters than numbers to his name this season, mostly P’s. He is in a good yard however and won on merit. Owner Alistair Harvey had him with the leaders throughout. Minimalistic (evens fav) can perhaps be forgiven for his below par Cherrybrook run, but this was another lack lustre effort.
The first two winners started 1-3 as we moved on to a less windy Axe Vale on the following day. Dry ol’ Party followed up her Mendip win in the opening Hunt race where only Heartening (9-4 to 2’s) opposed her.
Tuff Nano (opened 2-5) continued in top form in the Confined and romped home by 20 lengths to give Will Biddick another winner.
The Last But One (solid 2’s) was my bet of the day in the Mixed Open. His maximum penalty (12lbs) was offset by Nathan Vergne’s claim, but he only just held off the strong finishing Minella Fifty (3’s to 5-2).
The floodgates had opened as the punters piled in on the next three favourites. Earth Leader (evens) outclassed his three opponents in the Intermediate before Apples Queen (4-7 to 2-5) held on gamely to beat Theatre Evening (5-2) in the Novice Riders’ under Liam Harrison. The layers took another blow when Skinflint (4-5 fav) found ground and track conditions to his liking in the Restricted.
The last race (Open Maiden) featured the biggest field of the day, 8, and the springer of the day in the shape of ex-Irish Businessman. I saw £500 to £100 laid early before the five-year-old dropped through all rates to 5-4 fav. Newcomer Raise Your Hand was opposed from an opening show of 2-1 out to 3’s, but won impressively from the promising A Tipple or Two (6-4 to 7-4).
- Saturday 4th May 2019 Modbury Harriers & Totnes Bridgetown Co. Ltd Flete Park, Ermington, Ivybridge PL21 9NX 1st Race 2.00pm
- Sunday 5th May 2019 Devon and Somerset Staghounds Holnicote, Minehead, TA24 8TE 1st Race 2.00pm
- Monday 6th May 2019 Cattistock Littlewindsor, Beaminster, DT8 3QU 1st Race 2.00pm
- Monday 6th May 2019 Stevenstone Vauterhill, High Bickington EX37 9BT 1st Race 2.00pm