Category Archives: betting


Oh dear, so that’s it for the season with three months of pointing in our area still to go. No more point-to-points, no more betting gossip, racing suspended, the industry jeopardised, bookies redundant and they are trying to handcuff me to the chair.

Whether it was the dodgy weather (it rained all morning on Sunday) or coronavirus worries, it was a shame that the normal bustling atmosphere of Buckfastleigh was lacking. The track conformation was a bit different because the normal last fence was not jumped, meaning a very long run-in from the jump coming off the top bend. There was plenty of quality racing though for the faithful to enjoy.

The opening five runner Hunt race was a bit of a puzzle. I couldn’t work it out so no bet. 10-year-old Moonaro is still a maiden but was sent off 2-1 fav having been chalked up at 3’s. Beuvron settled at 5-2 from 3’s but he is not very reliable nowadays. Tarrytown (9-2) had shown a glimmer of form, and the experienced Skylander (11-4) is capable on his day. It was another maiden however, Ragged Dream (7-1), who prevailed in a close finish to give 17-year-old Tamby Welch a deserved first point-to-point winner.

Stevan Steel (5-2 to 9-4 fav) is no rock star but came good under a typically positive Darren Edwards ride to win the Open Maiden easily from 11 opponents. The rider had the luxury of a peep round with his toiling rivals stone cold off the last bend. West Somerset trainer Janet Ackner does well with this type of horse who was placed in an Irish Maiden as long as four years ago, but had been knocking at the door recently. He must get his grey coat from his dam Silver Proverb who was moderate but had to lump a young claimer called Tom Malone round over hurdles a few years ago.

Gunner Vic (10-1) came from well off the pace to claim the runner up spot (he would have been put into the note book for a Bratton Down meeting). Natalie Parker’s mount Clever des Assence (drifted from 2’s to 3’s) was a head away in third after pressing the leaders for a long way.

The Men’s Open was the Devon & Cornwall Area Classic race limited to previous winners. Navanman (6-4 fav having touched 11-4) needs little introduction and duly took his pointing wins to 11, this time with Darren Edwards in the saddle. John Heard’s charge relished the heavy ground and went 20 lengths clear round the top bend before cantering home ahead of Big Georgie (7-1). Below form Fishy Story, who had touched evens before settling at 2’s, finished a well beaten third. Navanman had a good reason for his defeat at the showground last month when sustaining an injury, and connections have done well to squeeze another win out of this top pointer.

Nickelsonthedime (5-4 to 4-5) had created a very favourable impression with a couple of Wadebridge wins, but had to give best in a good Intermediate to The Galloping Bear (5-2) who had won his Restricted on the showground after opening his account in the mud at Ffos Las in December. The Galloping Bear (Darren Andrews) led from the top of the hill and stayed on well in conditions much to his liking. Both these promising types are by the St Leger winner Shantou who has developed into a leading NH stallion. It is unfortunate that the Exeter final to this event is lost.

The two market leaders also dominated the Skinner’s Ladies’ Open. The game veteran Dicky Bob (solid 3’s) jumped well and tried to make all the running under Millie Wonnacott, but was overhauled off the last bend by a confidently ridden Master Baker partnered by Jo Supple (evens fav). Jo is nearing her century of winners and has been on board Master Baker for all of his 15 wins, including three hunter chases. Wind Tor (3’s) was a distant third. Goldbury (8’s to 7’s) looked fit but had an off day and was pulled up before half way.

The form worked out in the Novice Riders race when Millanisi Boy (4-5 to 4-6) just made his experience pay with a two lengths success over the penalised Raddon Top (3-1). The winner always seemed to be holding the upper hand but was hard pressed by his main rival from the top of the hill and was driven right out by Fergus Gillard.

The Point-to-Point flat race was scheduled as the last race but had to be divided after attracting 15 declarations, exceeding the safety limit by one. Six of the eight runners in the first section were unraced which made for a cagey betting market. The faces went for Alan Hill’s once raced five-year-old Vain Girl (2-1 fav), but there was support for Any Alibis (7’s to 3’s) and the subsequent Fran Nimmo trained winner Sun Rising Hill (3-1). The Warwickshire trainer specialises in this type of event and this Mahler four-year-old certainly knew her job, coming clear under Alice Stevens to beat Nicky Martin’s Fevertre (4-1).

The other division, shall we call it the last waltz, went to Gerry Supple’s Sandaroc (3’s to 5-2), a strong bodied four-year-old filly by Shirocco who looked fit and ready to go in the preliminaries. Sandaroc landed a double for promising young jockey Fergus Gillard, fending off the jolly, Charlottes Way (2’s from 4’s) inside the last couple of furlongs. In another tight betting heat there were bits and pieces for third placed Red Cap (4’s to 3’s), Midnight Billy (7-2) and The Ramp Sleeper (5’s).

Before you ask, yes, I backed Sandaroc ( on the basis of paddock inspection). I would like to think that I was just coming into form on the betting front when the curtain came down dramatically, but that is what all of us punters would say……

Granville’s Betting Gossip: East Cornwall Point-To-Point, Great Trethew, 8th March 2020

Punters should have sensed they were going to be up against it during the afternoon when the favourite in the opener (two miles flat race) got no more than 100 yards before pulling up . This was Le Slithy Tove, eased from 4-5 to 5-4 having touched 6-4 in a light betting race. Unfortunately the mare appeared to go lame behind and was quickly dismounted. In a good finish Tom Chanin just got his fit looking four-year-old Bravo Buddy ( 15-8 touched 2’s) home. Front runner Grumpy Freya (4’s to 7-2) looked the winner until headed by the winner entering the final furlong. The Grumpy one was coming back in the final strides. Both first and second were making their racecourse debuts.

13 lined up for the young horses Maiden over two and a half miles with Party Tunes (11-10 fav touched 5-4) all the rage after his promising Buckfastleigh run. Darren Edwards soon had him in front and he looked the winner coming down the hill. Don’t Rightly Know (4-1) emerged as the only real challenger going to two out and stayed on strongly after the last to win going away as the favourite hung towards the inside rails. The winner, given a good ride by Chloe Emsley, was making her racecourse debut and this Malinas mare looks a promising chasing type. Say About It (100-8) was unfancied but finished a creditable third. Ahead of the Game (5’s to 4’s) again carried Welsh cash. He must have shown something at home but has left the money behind three times in a row now. The other eye catcher in the ring was Henry’s Regime (6’s to 3’s) who crashed out at half way.

The next jolly to boost the bookies satchels was Roc The Boat (2’s to 6-4) in the Maiden for older horses which saw the longest price winner of the day in The Meters Running (8-1). This gelding was making his seasonal debut but had shown promise last year from the yard of Gordon Chambers. Jake Bament sent the winner clear down the hill to win as he liked. The favourite was never sighted.

Only three turned out for the Mixed Open. Chosen Lucky (5-4) is one of the most consistent pointers in the area and won the battle with his main rival Spencer Moon (evens fav) who was eventually pulled up at the top of the hill when palpably tired. Talk of the South (9-4) chased home Chosen Lucky and can win a race before the ground dries up.

Somewhere To Be was a surprisingly short priced favourite (13-8) for the Novice Riders. He never looked like winning and was eventually pulled up four out. The main gamble here was course winner Syracuse’s Dream (8’s to 4’s) but he faded after showing early pace. At the business end of the race the mare Cloudy Music (4’s touched 9-2) stayed on strongly to give Charlotte Summersby her first winner, coming with a strong run to beat Awesome Tunes (drifted from 5’s to 10’s).

With the rain and hail lashing down, only the needy and the greedy remained for the last race where the four bookies left narrowly outnumbered the punters. Makeapoint (evens) was preferred to Port O’Clock (5-4) in a very weak market. Once again the Welsh lads left their money behind as Port O’Clock repeated his Milborne success as his three rivals all threw the towel in – and who can blame them.

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Mixed bag as pointing resumes: Six races, six bookmakers, one complete outsider wins and two odds-on shots beaten

The relentless rain stopped just in time for the first race as the final Wadebridge meeting of the season got under way on testing ground at the showground. This was about the only crumb of comfort for the small army of punters, as most of the fancied horses were about to be sunk without trace, leaving the six just men with the boards counting their winnings.

Honest Deed (4-6 to 4-5 fav) started the rot for favourites in the four-runner opener, stalking the leaders until unseating his rider at the third last. Raddon Top (11-4 to 5-2) stayed on gamely to take the prize, just holding the spirited effort of Somewhere To Be (solid 4’s).

They went 2-1 the field in the 11-runner Open Maiden with Arctic Milly heading the market. Once again this mare was not entirely foot perfect, leaving the more fluent Cottage Rose (7-2 to 3’s) to get on top up the final climb. The Kitchenmecanic (6’s to 5’s) was well back in third, but her stable is not firing yet and this mare can win a Maiden. The gamble of the race was Oscar World, forced in from 10’s to 4’s for the Stuart Payne yard. She dropped away on the final circuit but is probably capable of better.

Nickelsonthedime had already created a good impression when beating the aforementioned Cottage Rose at the last Wadebridge meeting. The layer who chalked up an opening show of 5-4 for the Restricted was quickly swamped, and 1-2 ruled at the off. It could easily have been 1-10 as the useful looking Shantou six-year-old came right away from the third last to win by an official 17 lengths. Georges Legacy (8-1) put a string of moderate efforts behind him to finish second and it was good to see Jimmy Cole back in the saddle to partner his Macca’s Stowaway (12-1) into third place.

Cloudy Music (2’s to 5-4) was the clear form choice in the Intermediate. I made her the best bet on the card but she faded quickly after leading until the final ditch. She had Bridge of Spies (6-1) and Dragon de la Tour (8-1) behind her at the Christmas meeting at Wadebridge, but this pair filled the first two places here. Bridge of Spies always looks like a ball of muscle and gave his young novice rider Conor Houlihan a double on the day.

The Ladies’ Open looked a trappy affair and three of the four runners jumped the last with a chance. At the business end, Chloe Emsley forced Wind Tor (2’s to 6-4 jt fav) up to beat the rallying Chosen Lucky (4-6 to 6-4 jt fav). Inch Rock (7-2) finished a close third after leading most of the way.

Once again punters got a smack in the face in the concluding four-runner Men’s Open. Navanman (4-6 fav) lost his unbeaten record for the season behind the unconsidered Ballyhowne (14-1). The winner ended last season when winning a good Conditions race at Upcott Cross at 33-1 but had shown nothing in his two outings this season. Millanisi Boy (6-4) finished second and will surely win points this year. Navanman , carrying a 7lbs penalty, was only third and was never really travelling.

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I knew it was going to be a dodgy afternoon when the 13 bookies (lucky for some) lined up in the pouring rain virtually marooned by a sea of very sticky mud. This demanded that everybody wore footwear of the amphibious variety. This is point-to-pointing in January of course. Four races went to favourites, three of the odds-on variety.

In a disappointing Hunt race opener Jack Snipe (1-5) beat his sole opponent Jabbea (2-1) by 20 lengths. Chipley Park is a long course with an incline to climb three times, so in a mud fest times of seven minutes plus tells all

In contrast the Restricted produced a quality field of nine and a lively betting market. Sylvies Dance (2-1) looks a similar type of mare to her dam Kiama (multiple points winner). She also seems to have inherited Kiama’s tough attitude and answered Will Biddick’s every call to overcome the favourite, five-year-old Thechaseison (7-4). These two can be followed with confidence. Third placed Kilmoganny (20-1) ran really well for his novice jockey Jemma Sargent and held every chance until the third last. He finished just ahead of Where’s Wilma (12-1) who did his best work late on. There was some market support for Wadebridge winner Mustmeetforapint (3’s to 5-2) who could not get on terms from the final bend.

The early evens was quickly snapped up for Navanman in the Mixed Open. He settled at 4-6 and would have been a big price on the exchanges going into the final bend where he was in fifth place with plenty to do. Although he frightened my pocket, Jockey Darren Andrews refused to panic and brought the classy gelding with a storming run to hit the front before the last. The useful Welsh mare Frelia (5’s to 4’s), receiving 12lbs from the winner, was up and down the field a bit until making her effort three out. She will win again. Talk of the South (14-1) ran creditably here after a 20 months lay off.

Welsh hopes were sunk in the mud in the Intermediate as Rio Bravo (11-10 to 4-6) stopped to a walk in the home straight. This left a smile on the layers faces as 20-1 outside Emperor Renard stayed on well to beat Banco de Logos (4-1). Mariah McGuinness rode her first winner here on the Emperor and looked very competent on only her second ride..

Another young lady jockey triumphed in the Novice Riders contest as Ella Ortewell steered home Silsol (4-6 to 4-7). Keep it quiet, but this ex-Paul Nicholls inmate beat Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River once and had a BHA rating of 158. He should have been 10-1 on.

Having trained the last two winners, Will Biddick got back in his jockey kit to win the Mares Maiden on 7-2 chance Minella Beag. The Flemensfirth mare looked well for her seasonal debut from Ed Walker’s yard and is on the upgrade. Bradley Gibbs must have been fed up with his days work so far and suffered another reverse as the promising Boss Baby (3’s in a place to 2-1 fav) chased home the winner. I keep thinking that Cottage Rose (solid 4’s) will win her Maiden. She probably will when my back is turned.

The getting (towed) out stakes proved to justify my bet of the day as Martin (Fly) McIntyre rode ex-Irish five-year-old Le Tueur (9-4 to 2 -1 fav) to victory in the Open Maiden. I think that Le Tueur is French for the killer and he certainly killed off the opposition here. The runner up Kings Cave (12’s to 5’s) ran well after dumping his rider twice in the paddock.

So it was an up and down day The entertainment didn’t finish there though. I saw one tractor pulling another tractor pulling a horse box out of the swamp of a car park. Anyway, well done to the organisers at Chipley who got through all the adversities to keep the show on the road.

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Granville’s Betting Gossip: Modbury Harriers Point-To-Point at Buckfastleigh on Sunday 19th January 2020

Buckfastleigh normally provides a strong betting market and the first of three points scheduled there this season saw plenty of jousting between the 18 bookies and several regular, hungry looking faces.

Punters had the edge in the opening Maiden which was divided on the day. The rangy grey Song of the Hunter was backed from 2’s to evens and put in a sound display of jumping to beat Young O’Leary (6-4) in the first section. The winner’s Irish point-to-point form included a good second behind Dolphin Square this time last year (four times winner since under David Maxwell and rated 138), so his ability was no secret. A nice early goal.

Fran Nimmo’s four-year-old Freezing Point (2’s to 7-4 fav) was ridden out on his debut to repel a bold bid by Party Tunes (10-1) in the other division run in a much slower time. The concession of 21lbs proved just too much for the runner up, but he jumped soundly and is a winner in waiting. Arctic Milly (5-2) ruined her chance with a blunder at the last, but a Mares race is there for the taking. Freezing Point has an appointment at the sales later this week.

Five Gold Bars (Rob Hawker) was backed from 6’s to 3’s before keeping on well to hold the sustained challenge of Gio’s Girl (6-4 to evens) in the Restricted. Nobodydoesitbetter (solid 4’s), who looked well after a lay off had every chance three out before finishing third, should find a similar contest.

It was hard to oppose the top hunter chaser Caid du Berlais in the feature Mixed Open. Will Biddick’s mount eased slightly from 2-5 to 1-2 and won like a 10’s-on chance. I have always liked Marcle Ridge ( 3’s at the off), although he had a few pounds to find with the winner. I joined the each way thieves at 4’s so got a few quid back when he finished a creditable second. I expect a few subsequent winners to come out of this race. Third placed Doc Carver (16’s to 14’s) will no doubt pop up in Wales. Raddon Top (20’s) put a poor Larkhill run behind him and was best of the also rans here. Crown of Thorns (10’s) will be better for the race and Soul Kaliber (8’s) was not disgraced up in grade.

It all seemed a bit easy at this stage, but the plunge on Unioniste (13-8) came unstuck in the Veteran Horses Conditions Race (excellent opportunities for 10-year olds and over). He was rated 159 in his hey day but like most of us he is not the force of old. Three Faces West (5-1) made all under Nathan Vergne and pulled out more from the top of the hill when pressed by teenager Dicky Bob (5-2 to 2’s). In the end Three Faces West drew right away with Millanisi Boy (16-1) leaving his recent form behind in second. Bradley Brook (14’s to 12’s) had been off the track for over 1500 days and was taken carefully from well off the pace before finishing third, passing Dicky Bob close home. The well backed Rye Cross (8’s to 3’s) was pulled up early after breaking a blood vessel.

The seven years plus Open Maiden attracted a large field and a very easy winner with a large name in Gottagottagetaway. Despite three non completions in his three outings, the winner was nibbled at from 16’s to 100-7 with the competent Sam Jukes replacing a claimer (who owns the gelding) in the saddle. The more experienced On Raglan Road (16-1) outran his odds to finish runner up. Clever Des Assence (3-1 jt fav) is in a good yard and took third as Chicago Lady (7-1) was disqualified.

Clive Bennett’s Shometheway (7-4 to 11-10) had a hard race winning the Carmarthenshire Restricted before Christmas, but turned out here as fresh as a daisy here to win the getting out stakes stylishly. Journey Juice (8-1) finished his race well and Cloudy Music (3’s) ran her usual game race to fill the placings. Shometheway’s dam Labarynth won a few Westcountry points a few years ago when ridden by her trainer Polly Gundry (now Polly Walker). Apart from this useful mare she has bred Marcle Ridge and promising young hurdler Shishkin, who may be Festival bound for Nicky Henderson.

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Chosen Lucky ( 2-7 touched 1-4) set the trend for a succession of odds-on favourites when beating sole rival Acadian (2-1) in a disappointing turn out for the opening North Cornwall Hunt Race at Wadebridge

This was just an overture for the day as three more odds-on chances went on to grace the winner’s enclosure.

Mixed Open winner Navanman (like Chosen Lucky a son of Well Chosen) is an admirably consistent pointer (returned at 4-5 having touched 4-7). He had to pull out all the stops to shrug off the useful Hello George (5‘s from 6’s) on the gruelling climb to the post. Navanman, ridden for the first time by Darren Andrews, was on the back foot after a slowish jump three out and left himself a bit to do in the straight. Both horses gave their all after jumping the last with the favourite only getting on top in the last 75 yards. Will Biddick’s only mount of the day, The Last But One, backed from 9-4 to 7-4, ran below his best and was done with after crossing the sand on the far side.

Despite a field of 12, punters would not hear of defeat for Nickelsonthedime (6-4 to 4-6) in the Open Maiden for four to six-year-olds. The official point-to-point form book intimated that this useful looking Shantou gelding was sure to improve after his Wadebridge outing before Christmas and this was certainly the case. He looked rules material with a convincing eight lengths saunter. Runner up Cottage Rose (12’s to 10’s) is beginning to show the talent associated with her dam Roll On Rose, and is sure to start winning races soon. Newcomer Tristan De Gane was put in at 2-1 before remarkably drifting out to 9’s (touched 10’s). The Chris Barber trained five-year-old looks a good sort and was not disgraced in finishing third.

Mustmeetforapint (evens to 4-5) had been yet another eye-catcher at the pre-Christmas meeting on the showground and duly obliged here under Darren Edwards in the Open Maiden for seven-year-olds plus. He never looked like being caught from four out and his shrewd connections can get a few more races out of him. Exhibit A (16-1) just pipped front running Stevan Steel (25-1) for second place.

The Galloping Bear and Voie Dans Voie started 5-4 joint favourites (both from 7-4) in the Restricted and battled it out together from a long way out. In the end The Galloping Bear just prevailed. He is a likeable sort by the St Leger winner Shantou (same sire as Nickelsonthedime). I don’t suppose Shantou had Wadebridge point-to-pointer winners in mind when performing in the breeding shed.

Ardview Boy (5-1) justified a 600 miles round trip when leading all the way in the PPORA Novice Riders event. His 18-year-old rider Dylan Kitts was partnering his first winner. Mister Dick (13-2 ) was clearly second best as the well supported Kernel Victor (11-10 fav from 5-4) could never get on terms.

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“ There is no such thing as losing. You either win or you learn something”

The Jose Mourinho quote when his new team Spurs “lost” recently is a positive way of looking at things. Mr Mourinho was reminding us of an original Nelson Mandela saying. I learned a couple of things at Wadebridge.

I envied the bookies on Sunday. Apart from getting a long odds-on “certainty” beaten in the first, the 11 just men were cosily working in a nice warm barn while the rest of us had to go and stand outside to see the action in whatever the horrible Cornish weather threw at us. Seriously though, the Wadebridge barn is really useful in bad weather for everybody. This course also has the best car park in the country. Nobody will get stuck on the hard roads there.

Hello George was the odds-on culprit in the first. Originally chalked up at 4-6, the Will Biddick trained gelding was forced into 2-7 by the big boys, but could not cope with Peterbrown who was sent off friendless at 33-1. Maybe the hard race that the favourite had at Dunsmore counted against him, but Peterbrown won on merit, giving his owner/trainer/rider Holly-Anne Drowne a memorable first winner.

The first Maiden was quite informative. The finish concerned the 2-1 joint favourites Voie Dans Voie and Queens Legacy,

each available at 3’s to the early risers. They had both had a run and looked ready. Voie Dans Voie showed his experience under rules (although used to bbv) and kept on well to hold the four-year-old filly Queens Legacy despite Will Biddick’s urgings on the latter. Nickelsonthedime (4-1) finished well in third and should win a maiden at least. Oscar World (14’s to 6’s) got tired but showed promise. Chicago Lady (7’s) and Princess Cave (7’s) were not given a hard time.

The other Maiden division was run in driving rain and hail and was 11 seconds slower. It was difficult to race read in the conditions, but at the business end two well backed horses came to the fore. Phoenix Park (6 ‘s in a place to 2’s) passed two rivals up the finishing climb after the last to score. Runner up Mustmeetforapint (5-2) was a bit unlucky having fluffed the last. Mrs Davies (7-2 to 2’s started joint fav with the winner and looked the winner three out.

It was a bit surprising to see The Last But One a solid 5-4 fav in the Ladies’. He had 15lbs to find on official ratings with Thomas Campbell (9-4 to 2-s). The latter was making his pointing debut and this ex-Nicky Henderson gelding, now with Ed Walker, was given a good waiting ride by Chloe Emsley to pass his market rival on the finishing climb. The prolific pointer Chosen Lucky (4’s to 5-2) gave his novice rider Charlotte Summersby a good first ride to finish third.

Navanman (11-10 to 4-6) came out best after a protracted duel with Biddick’s mount El Bandit (9-4) in the Men’s Open. The winner needs little introduction to Westcountry followers and was notching his eighth win in this sphere. El Bandit had been kept in good company under rules (rated 132) and should find things easier in points if retaining his enthusiasm. Third placed Raddon Top (7’s into 4’s) likes this course (two wins) was not disgraced and will find further opportunities.

The 11 runners in the Intermediate all finished, headed by improving staying mare Goldbury (5’s to 3’s). The six-year-old was idling and looking around by-passing the omitted last fence and won with something in hand. The Roestone (7-2) finished his race well and came storming up the finishing hill. Bubble O’Clock (100-8) is a nice strong type but was a bit too keen. He did well in the end to finish third, just ahead of the well backed favourite Cloudy Music (4’s to 5-2). She goes well here and her day will come again. Bridge of Spies won a Restricted here last year but was easy to back at 6-1. He will be fitter next time.

I went for Frank and Honest (3’s to 2-1 joint fav) in the getting out stakes, mainly because the stable was in form and he had beaten Phoenix Park at Cottenham. He had every chance but could only finish third behind the promising Getaway mare Neetside (7-4 out to 2’s). Gio’s Girl (10-1) finished with a flourish to claim the runner up spot to complete a day of three seconds for Will Biddick.

Ah well, don’t forget there is no such thing as losing…….

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BOOKIES 3 PUNTERS 3 – Score draw

Firstly, the organisers deserve much credit for getting this meeting on at this new course, having battled to defeat the recent very wet weather. The jockeys I spoke with praised the condition of the course and the fences. The track is quite sharp with almost three circuits.

A lot of familiar old faces graced both sides of the betting ring at the new venue. A lot of smiling faces in fact from the ten men with the satchels after the first two races. 

Will Biddick’s first ride of the season, four year old Queens Legacy in the young horse Maiden was always a shade of odds-on with 4-5 ruling at the off. She slipped up when holding every chance on the final bend, but this granddaughter of Panda Shandy is sure to winraces. The winner Macca’s Stowaway looked fit, but was friendless in the ring and drifted from 7-2 to 6-1. Her form under rules looked suspect, but she stormed home under 41-year-old Merv Woodward, who was deputising in the saddle for temporarily sidelined owner/trainer Jimmy Cole. The runner up Janeslittlevoice (8’s to 5’s) kept on but was no match for the winner.

Nine of the ten entries for the second race (Conditions) turned up. Hello George was originally chalked up at 4-1 in a place, but that was soon snapped up, and the useful ex-Hobbs gelding, now in Will Biddick’s yard and ridden by the talented Frenchman Nathan Vergne, started 7-4 favourite. I have rarely seen two horses going hammer and tongs well clear out in front like Hello George and Marten (12’s into 10’s) for the best part of the last mile and a half. They raced stride for stride with neither giving an inch until Evan David and Marten got the verdict on the nod right on the post. Mary Vestey trains the winner, who seemed to have lost his way under rules , for her father (Lord Vestey) at Stowell Park 

Okay, two-nil to the bookies, but the punters soon got one back thanks to The Roestone (solid evens fav) who only had a ten minutes trip to the track from just up the road at Thorverton. The Vinnie Roe gelding relished the ground under Tom Chanin and was always holding Mr Jaggers (9-2) after third home Second Chapter (5-4 from 2’s) had ruined his chance with a blunder three out.

I thought that Bishops Road was the goods in the Mixed Open, but he drifted from 4-6 to evens fav, and couldn’t get to grips with Don Bersy (3’s into 7-4) despite Bradley Gibbs putting up 5 lbs overweight on the winner. After his usual hesitancy at the start,  DonBersy was soon in front and was always holding Bishops Road. The winners trainer Ryan Potter runs a shrewd yard at Ross-on-Wye and is worth keeping an eye on this season

Punters got it right in the Intermediate with Waterloo Warrior (4-6. Evens, 4-5 fav), given a typical Biddick ride to overcome Robin Why Not (9-4 to 2’s). The Warrior took command on the bottom bend. Formerly a Colin Tizzard inmate, Waterloo Warrior had suffered from seconditis under rules and was far from straightforward. He could make into a fair pointer. 

The getting out stakes ( Open Maiden) saw the obligatory Welsh trained winner as Iusetaluvheronce (memories of the Saw Doctorssong) made all under a positive ride from Byron Moorcroft to land the odds (10-11 fav from 6-4). This seven-year-old had only modest form under rules but looks capable of scoring again.  The inexperienced JoeTidball gave the runner up Ticklebellylane (14’s to 12’s) a grand ride for a novice.


The Devon & Cornwall bookies normally provide a strong betting market and the Tiverton Staghounds fixture was well up to standard. There was some entertaining jousting between the layers and the faces on this six-race card with a total of 42 runners.

Lawsons Thorns (Leading horse)
Lawsons Thorns (Leading horse)
(c) Megan Cobley Photography 2019

Lawsons Thorns (8-11 fav touched 4-5) struck the first blow for the followers of the horses for courses theory. Mike Vanstone’s 10-year-old relishes this track and was scoring his third course win in three weeks (with three different jockeys). The useful young mare Cloudy Music (evens from 5-4) was well held after looking dangerous at the penultimate.

Will Biddick’s mount A Mill From Milan was backed from 4-1 to 6-4 fav in the Open Maiden, having run well on her English debut at Cothelstone. She stayed on late to finish third behind Basher Brian (5-2 out to 4’s) and Spring Break (6’s touched 13-2). The basher had shown a bit of form when runner up at the Dulverton West meeting here.

I met a man from Llanfairpwllgwyngyll just before the third race and he told me to plunge on the Welsh nag Holy Water (2-1) ridden by the capable Byron Moorcroft. I couldn’t get any more than 2’s but my Welsh colleague seemed confident and Holy Water looked the part in the parade ring. I had a feeling however that Soul Kaliber (4-5 to 4-7 fav) was the goods, and this ever improving gelding won easily from Holy Water. Dean Summersby has done what Gordon Elliott failed to do with Soul Kaliber (win a race) and I needed more than holy water after that.

Soul Kaliber & Darren Edwards
Soul Kaliber & Darren Edwards
(c) Megan Cobley Photography 2019

Desert Roe (5-4 fav from 7-4) carried Welsh hopes in the Men’s Open and held every chance when falling at the last giving young Jack Tudor a nasty fall. This left Namako (8’s touched 9’s) with a clear lead as my selection Saffron Wells (7-4 out to 9-4) pulled up lame after jumping the last

The next jolly to hit the buffers was Ramble On (6-4 to 11-10 fav), who went on to finish runner up under Jodie Hughes in a decent eight-runner Ladies’ Open. The veteran Beggar’s Velvet (solid 5’s) has struck form with a vengeance lately with wins at Dingley and Garthorpe. His trip down the M5 paid dividends with Amy Cox again in the saddle. There was little in it all the way up the finishing climb with the pair virtually dancing cheek to cheek close to the rails. In the end Beggar’s Velvet just had the call before surviving a stewards inquiry.

I had the misfortune to bump into my friend from that Llanfair thingy place again just before the last. He offered a tip for Seniergues (is that Welsh?). I knew that this horse had beaten Basher Brian previously and was by Midnight Legend so went along with it. We backed him from 5’s to 7-2. You can guess what happened: Seniergues finished a close second to another Welsh horse with a French name, Airpur Desbois, as the shrewder Welsh guys piled in from 6’s to 7-2. Well done James King who completed his first treble.

Fish and chips again for me instead of steak. A lesson learnt: be wary of a Welshman’s tips, especially if you cannot pronounce where he comes from. Nos da nohs da as they say in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.

Upcoming Fixture

  • Season Finale: Saturday 15th June 2019 Torrington Farmers Chapelton Barton, Umberleigh EX37 9EB 1st Race 2.00pm

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Five out of six winning favourites put the bookies on the back foot at Bratton Down, however one or two gambles went astray. “About level on the day,” I was told by a leading layer.

Purple N Gold & Millie Wonnacott
Purple N Gold & Millie Wonnacott
(c) Megan Cobley Photography 2019

The Ladies’ Open changed shape on the last bend when the leader There’s No Panic (easy to back out to 7-2) hit the straw bale marker and lost his rider. This left the eventual winner Purple’N’Gold (evensand to 4-6 fav) in front. This useful pointer ran on well up the hill to hold the closing pack of It’s All or Nothing (5’s touched 6’s) and the well backed Allie Beag (6’s to 7-2). The winner benefited from a good patient ride from Millie Wonnacott

The conditions race for older horses went to Lawsons Thorns (5’s to 7-4 fav) who followed up his recent course win in good style under Josh Newman. At one stage Get Rhythm (20-1) looked a threat, but this nine-year-old hung badly left up the hill. Third placed Vaillant Creek (8’s to 5’s) was well held at the finish. Once again I was too slow to hit the books, missing the value of the 5’s and 3’s and thinking 7-4 was too short.

Lure Des Pres & Josh Newman
Lure Des Pres & Josh Newman
(c) Megan Cobley Photography 2019

Lure Des Pres (evens fav) , stable companion of Lawsons Thorns, was another one to slip through my net. I had him in my note book for a Restricted after he had run really well at Flete Park when runner up to Goldbury, but the short price put me off. The Pembrokeshire gelding Tucks Bergin was the one for money here (8’s to 7-2), but caught a tartar in the winner who looks capable of further improvement.

Baby Sherlock (7-4 to 6-4) landed the Open Maiden under Paul John in competent style.His owner/trainer Roy Smith does well with his small string and he drew right away to score by six lengths as Chips For Free (6-4 to 7-4) and the gallant veteran Brannoc (6-1) duelled for second in a disappointing four horse field. Baby Sherlock’s dam Lady Cricket won seven times over fences for David Pipe. The race card had the incorrect pedigree of the winner.

The Men’s Open looked a weak affair. Theatre Evening (7-4 to 6-4 fav) unseated two out when well beaten as the Heythrop gelding Dandan (2’s touched 9-4 in a place) held Namako (2’s touched 3’s). The winner’s jockey, 17-year-old Tristan Durrell looked tidy.

The heavies backing two-horse Hunt race winner Kapricorne (solid 1-8 fav) must have been candidates for a heart attack as his sole rival Gunner Vic (5-1) ranged up alongside at the penultimate and snapped at his heels after crossing the last. Kapricorne settled matters in the last 200 yards though to give 25-year-old Vinny Webster his first winning tide.

Upcoming Fixtures

  • Sunday 9th June 2019 Tiverton Staghounds Bratton Down, Bratton Fleming, Exmoor EX31 4SG 1st Race 2.00pm
  • Season Finale: Saturday 15th June 2019 Torrington Farmers Chapelton Barton, Umberleigh EX37 9EB 1st Race 2.00pm

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