It was good to see the line of bookmakers back in full swing for the opening Devon & Cornwall meeting of the season at Dunsmore, with plenty to smile about as the first four favourites went down the pan.
It was such a mild, sunny day that it was almost a pleasure to add to the bookies profits. I gave a generous contribution as Captain Westie (4-5 fav) just failed to last home in the opening Maiden. Will Biddick sent him three lengths clear on the bottom bend, but he fluffed the last and Park This One (4’s to 9-2) swept past him under Josh Newman close home. Captain Westie’s Thurles bumper form with subsequent winners all around him looked solid and I thought justified a good bet, but the winner is a nice staying type, won on merit, and can only improve further.
So it became a more cautious betting day. Thumb Stone Blues had won his last four points last season but was saddled with a 10 lbs penalty in the Conditions race. He drifted from 4-6 to 11-10 in the face of good money for both In Arrears (6’s to 7-2) and Inch Rock (6’s to 4’s). The latter pair fought out the finish with the mare In Arrears just prevailing in the hands of Darren Edwards. She enjoys soft ground and can win again. Inch Rock ran a brave race in defeat, but third placed The Roestone (9-4 to 2’s), a previous course winner, never really threatened.
The former Gigginstown horse Moratorium (5’s to 2’s) was bought by current connections only recently. The eight-year-old winning hurdler was picked up for £10,000 at Goffs UK Doncaster sales last month having lost his form a bit in Ireland. He gave a first winning ride to Nathan Green in the Conditions race reserved for Veteran and Novice Riders. The Heythrop gelding won very easily and trainer Myles Osborne has his eye on hunter chases. Runner up Guerrilla Tactics (4-1) is proving a good schoolmaster for Finn Muirhead and ran up to his form to finish second. Broadclyst (2’s to 15-8 fav) has had a spell under rules and ran better than his nine lengths third suggests. Bridge of Spies was friendless from evens out to 3’s and will be better for the race. He was doing his best work at the finish.
In the three runner Mixed Open (with a new sponsor INEOS Grenadier), the early prices chalked up for Southfield Theatre (evens) and Chameron (1-2) were off putting, but when the market settled Southfield Theatre could be backed at 6-4 and 7-4. Chameron eased to evens and these two useful pointers had the race between them as Static Jack (6’s to 3’s) dropped away. It was the game veteran Southfield Theatre who took the prize, making all and jumping well for Lily Bradstock to fend off Chameron’s efforts. The final of this new series is at Cheltenham in May.
All six entries went to post for the Restricted which saw a successful late gamble on the South Wales traveller Accordini at all prices down from 5-2 to evens. Well done to the Welsh boys who collected bundles after a very confident ride from the reigning champion James King. Eole D’un Regard (6-1) has a funny head carriage but kept on gamely under Barnaby Treneer to finish second with Will Biddick steering Thomas Crown (7-1) into third. I backed Clever Des Assence (5-1) who looked really fit and chased the leaders but found little where it mattered.
On all known form Truckers Pass (4-6 to 4-9) was a certainty in the getting out stakes and duly delivered with the minimum of fuss. Will Biddick’s hardest task was to pull him up afterwards. Evron (9-2) got to within four lengths of the winner and is a sure Maiden winner. Da Vinci Rock (4-1) is giving his novice rider useful experience and can pick up a race before long.
I am told that the live streaming from Dunsmore proved a great success. Dave Phillips was taking phone bets from the armchair punters.
Cover Photo Credit: Megan Cobley Photography