Jockeys and their mounts canter past the the winning post flag flying at half mast in honour of The Duke of Edinburgh at the Dartmoor Hunt point-to-point meeting



The betting situation was a bit strange at sunny Flete, with one bookmaker standing in each of the two zones. Dave Phillips served the green zone, and Rich Pittard did duty in the owners roped off area. Fortunately for scribes like me their boards were adjacent so it was just possible to assess a market (and have a bet). In addition phone betting was offered for punters watching the live streaming which again drew much praise for the coverage.

Favourite backers got off to a flying start as Journey Juice landed odds of 4-5 after an opening show of 4-6 in the Hunt race. His jockey Chloe Emsley survived a scare as her mount stumbled badly at the top of the hill. Bay To Go (6’s out to 14’s) had made the best of his way home under James Armstrong, but had no answer when tackled by the winner on the run in.

I backed Corbett Court (4-1) in the next. Although he had been off the course for two years, he had beaten Rio Bravo in his Maiden ( unbeaten in both his races this season including a hunter chase at Catterick)). Corbett Court is from a shrewd yard and looked fit. Well I was wrong: Corbett Court was off the bit at half way and finished a poor fifth. The race went to gallant Cottage Rose (100-8) who ran straighter than runner up Boygochasing (8-1), who seemed intent on taking a more scenic route. The favourite Mustmeetforapint (5-2 to 6-4) was appearing for the second time in six days. He probably needs softer ground but has proved expensive to follow.

Darren Andrews riding Cottage Rose thanks his mount after winning the Restricted race
Darren Andrews riding Cottage Rose thanks his mount after winning the Restricted race

Know The Score (10-1) was certainly on the ball in the four miles Open for the Lord Mildmay Cup. Now with Leslie Jefford, and ridden by Fly McIntyre,  this once very expensive gelding had “lost his way” after a rules career which included three wins and a good run in the Cheltenham Festival bumper in his youth for David Pipe. He had been off the track for 18 months but looked fit and collared front running Welsh challenger Ramble On (7-2 to 5-2) 50 yards out. Where’s Wilma (10’s to 6’s) was a creditable third, upped in class, but staying on nicely. Navanman (evens) headed the market, but ran a shade below form in finishing fourth.

Know The Score ridden by Martin McIntyre (nearside) winning the Mixed Open four-miler from long-time leader Ramble On (far side)
Know The Score ridden by Martin McIntyre (nearside) winning the Mixed Open four-miler from long-time leader Ramble On (far side)

Oh yes, I nearly forgot:  with a BHA rating of 129 and probably a stone in hand I couldn’t resist a few quid on the winner.   

The four and five-year-old Maiden attracted only four runners, three of which were previously unraced from Ed Walker’s yard.  The one for money was Misstree Wave (evens fav), but even Will Biddick’s handling couldn’t prevent the five year-old from veering off the course nearly into the woods coming down the hill. The other two, Ribo A Irep (7-2) and Nuova Vita (5-2) raced locked together in front for two miles, but were left behind by the finishing burst of Swearer (5-2). The winner, ridden by Darren Edwards for the Joe Tickle yard had benefited from his bumper run at Maisemore Park last October. 

That grand old gelding Unioniste (7-4 ), winner of £170,000 under rules in his day, led his five rivals for a long way in the Owner/Trainer Conditions race, but his old legs couldn’t hold off Bridge of Spies (2-1). The winner had been mugged close home at Cherrybrook and merited a nice bet here. 

Syracuse’s Dream was ignored at 14-1 before making virtually all in the Conditions race. The grey galloped on merrily under his young rider Barnaby Treneer to hold the strong challenge of Will Biddick’s mount Board of Trade (7-2). Cloudy Music (2’s to 6-4 fav) had won on heavy ground at Great Trethew last year and the mare soon looked in trouble here before trailing in last. This form is best forgotten. It might however be worth keeping in mind Lomanchenko (10’s to 4’s), presumably named after the former world featherweight champion boxer. Admittedly his form under rules took a nose dive after his maiden hurdle win, but he was in touch for a long way here under his penalty  before getting tired.

13 lined up for the Open Maiden, unlucky for some, including me. I went for Melvyn (2-1) who looked the part but slid to the floor at the ninth. I am not sure how much cash went on the winner Dr Time, but he was noted at 8’s early before being returned 6-4 favourite. He is from a top yard but the nine-year-old had shown little in public. Runner up Jimmy Tew (5-1) should win a Maiden, but third placed Aracaras ((5’s) ran too freely. Da Vinci Rock (4-1) was not knocked about. He had bits of form in Ireland and has joined a good yard.

Photo Credit: Athwenna Irons/WMN