“Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.”From a poem by Christina Rossetti 1830 – 1894
The wind was certainly “passing by” at Bratton Down. In fact it was whistling straight across the moor drying up the ground even further.
It was firm ground that kept down field sizes for the Dulverton West meeting with three of the six races reduced to a match.
Warwickshire based James King is working hard to retain his National Men’s Championship and was successful on all three of his rides, each saddled by Welshman Luke Price.
Six-year-old Luckello started the ball rolling for the King / Price treble with a comfortable 10 lengths success in the seven-runner Maidensponsored by Mardon Recycling Machinery . The mare jumped to the front at the 12th fence and drew right away from her field after the penultimate. “We got her through James King’s connection with Olly Murphy,” said the trainer whose 140 miles trip from Pontypridd to North Devon was to prove so successful. Backed from 9-4 into 7-4 favourite, the good looking mare failed to trouble the judge in eight starts under rules but looks an ideal pointing type.
That grand stalwart Spencer Moon won for the fourth time in the last four weeks when beating Potters Approach in a match for the BrendsHotels Mixed Open over an extended four miles. James King sent the 14-year-old into the lead entering the final circuit and drew clear of his sole rival after the final ditch. “This is his 14th point-to-point win. We tried to retire him but he wouldn’t have it and we use him as a lead horse at home now,” remarked the trainer.
The Mahler seven-year-old Captain MC rounded off the Welsh raiders treble when drawing right away from Don’t Ask Us to win the James PryceTractors Intermediate to take James King to the 47 winner mark for the season, now just two behind Will Biddick. Luke Price reported, “This horse wants a sound surface. He was bought privately out of Noel Meade’s yard and will keep going until the end of the season. ”
The most competitive race of the day was theEastleigh Care Home Restricted won by Ninth Wave. This gelding’s trainer Will Biddick took an away day to ride a winner at Edgcote, leaving his protégé Charlie Sprake to take the winning ride. Six of the nine runners were in contention at the third last, but it was left to Ninth Wave and Golly Its Molly (Jake Bament) to battle it out up the punishing final climb. Charlie Sprake is also seeking title honours and his 11th winner of the season put him in pole position for the HighflyerNational novice riders title. The winner runs in the colours of Peter Musgrave who said, “He has not been the easiest horse to train. He had a bruised foot after Dunsmore and we were keen to get a run into him. Will was confident to let Charlie take the ride.”
19 year old James Shaw rode his first winner on his own Lapford Lad on only his fourth ride in the Sandhill Racing (Philip Hobbs) sponsored Conditions race. His sole rival Steel Brush was pulled up after the 15th fence leaving the Lucy Gardner trained 10-year-old to complete the course solo. “My home is near Exeter and I have been riding out for Lucy six days a week for 18 months. I have done a lot of eventing but now just want to race ride.” said the young rider. Sue Gardner was on duty on behalf of her daughter who was away in Jersey for the weekend. Sue was immediately on the phone to the Channel Islands to report on how well James had ridden.
The eventual winner Bistouri D’Honore, saddled by Mike Felton, and Mister Dick (Geoff Barfoot- Saunt) raced stride for stride until the home straight in their match for the PPORA Conditions race sponsored by Coxleigh Barton and the Wright Property for 9-year-olds and over. Despite hanging right up the hill, Hollie Greene’s mount, in the colours of her grandmother Jill Miller, was well on top reaching the judge. The 21-year-old rider, who once broke her back in a car accident, has recently completed her studies in history at Oxford Brookes University and said, “ I ride out regularly for Alan and Lawney Hill. “I have had 29 rides including a dead heat at Larkhill four years ago.”