There was more of a real point-to-pointing atmosphere at Bratton Down for the Dulverton West meeting on Monday with the crowds returning on a very pleasant evening.
Eight familiar looking Devon & Cornwall bookmakers signalled a hint of normality, but sadly Mike Bolitho was not amongst them. Mike, whose board always showed fair odds, traded under the banner of his late father Roy, but had sadly died a few days ago. He had stood last weekend at the Eggesford’s Upcott Cross meeting with two of his colleagues. Sincere condolences go to Mike’s partner, family and friends from all pointing colleagues.
Edabean (5-4 to evens fav) was a surprisingly short price in the opening Restricted, considering that she had only won a Mares race. Maybe it was due to the in-form connections. To be fair, she didn’t get the best of runs in some scrimmaging up the hill before finishing fourth. The eventual winner Dancing Dave (solid 3’s) was only fifth jumping the last, but stayed on really well on the inside under a good Chloe Emsley ride. The runner up was 20-1 outsider Eole D’un Regard who last won two years ago. He had shown little since, but ran really well here under young Barnaby Treneer. Minella Beag (6’s to 7’s), from the Ed Walker yard, like the winner, came from the back to finish third. He had been running under rules and warrants a look next time.
It was time to get my wallet out in the 12-runner Maiden. Leslie Jefford’s Businessman (13-2) has been on my watch list for some time and looked real each way value. He led everywhere except where it matters as Jimmy Snipe (33-1) stuck his head in front on the line to win by a “nose” (not an official point-to-point distance- should be a short head). The winner, completing for the first time after three runs, is out of the prolific Sea Snipe (won 17 points) and was the first training success for Joe Tickle’s partner Danielle Kenealy. Arctic Milly (9-4 fav) always gets placed and did so again. Nuova Vita was backed from 4’s to 5-2 on the strength of his promising Flete debut, but was never really travelling after an early blunder.
Rolling Dylan (5-2 to 5-4 fav) once had a BHA rating of 143 and now trained by Laura Parker, ran in the colours of the Conditions race sponsor Philip Hobbs, his former trainer. Another useful ex-NH horse Horatio Hornblower (9’s out to 12’s) was making his pointing debut under a stiff penalty and ran well under his novice rider. I missed the 7-2 (returned 5-2) about Minim Mouse and you can guess what happened. Yes, Mini won by a squeak – yet another dreaded “nose” verdict. The runner up Coningsby had no friends in the ring (3’s out to 6’s) but ran up the hill to nearly catch the mouse.
Proven stayer Know the Score (11-10 to 4-5), trained by Leslie Jefford, found the four miles Mixed Open easier than his recent Cheltenham consignment, but was all out under the talented Fly McIntyre to hold Imogen’s Thunder (5’s to 7’s), given a grand ride by Charlie Sprake.
Dr Time (5-4 to 4-6) was all the rage for the 10-runner PPORA race to set up his hat trick under James King, but an early mistake did not help his cause. He was struggling after the ditch allowing the smooth travelling Wotzizname (10’s to 7’s) to hold the running on Skylander (7-2 out to 5’s). The young jockeys on both first and second, Megan Bevan and Otis Morgan, each came out with much credit.
The getting out stakes was a bit more predictable. The Yeats gelding Largy Mountain (5-4 / 6-5 fav), ridden by champion jockey elect James King, completed his English hat trick in good style (he was hopeless in Irish points and has taken time to get his act together), pulling away from French Piece (3’s to 5-2) after the latter had bungled the last. Third place Awesome Tunes (5’s to 4’s) kept jumping to the left but was not disgraced.