GRANVILLE TAYLOR REFLECTS
Despite the ground getting quicker a healthy total of 79 runners contested the eight races at Bratton Down. I don’t think I have ever seen so many close finishes in one day with six of the eight races being decided by one length or less. All except one of the races were run in under six minutes.
Men’s Open (Bob Pittard Memorial – The Pittard Family)
A small but select field which included the exciting prospect Deb’s Dasher, who had not tasted defeat in five outings since his Kilworthy Intermediate win last March. The seven-year-old started 6-4 favourite but was faced with an equally progressive type in Special Account, who was seeking his third win of the campaign. Benedictus is also on the upgrade and had two wins under his belt this year. Merv Woodward soon had hunter chase winner Gershwinner out in front, but was joined by Deb’s Dasher (Richard Woollacott) before half way. Benedictus fell at the 12th fence and Deb’s Dasher went into the lead shortly afterwards. All this time Neil Harris had been making stealthy progress on Special Account and he was soon tracking the leader going ominously well. It took some nerve, but Harris sat quietly until asking Special Account for his effort half way up the final climb. He got a positive response where it mattered and headed the gallant Deb’s Dasher 100 yards from the line. “I was told to leave it until the last stride,” grinned the winning jockey. The winner’s trainer Camilla Scott said her charge was, “putting it all together now and needs to be ridden like that.” I am not sure that such brinkmanship does a lot of good for Special Account’s owner Jenny Perry, who spent much of the race not daring to watch in the centre of the course!
Blackstaff was returning to the point-to-point field having been highly tried in both the Cheltenham and Liverpool Foxhunters this spring. Lizzie Kelly’s mount started a shade of odds-on to beat his three opponents which included the smart Wee Fly. It was a muddling sort of race and the form may be questionable. Oslot (Leanda Tickle) ran on well to beat Ha Ho Magregor and Wee Fly, with Blackstaff a disappointing fourth. Take nothing away from the winner, Oslot, who was enjoying his first success since winning the Galway Plate from the Paul Nicholls yard in July 2008. Like many ex-chasers, this ten-year-old is finding a second career point-to-pointing, and he now races in the colours of Bruton based Sam and Rose Loxton. “He was not in love with the game and was given to us by his previous owner Andy Stewart. He had a year off and has a lovely nature,” explained Rose, whose day job is assistant head lass in the Nicholls yard where she looks after the mighty pair of Kauto Star and Big Bucks.
Confined (AP & VA Maddox Ltd)
Leanda Tickle completed a double on Delta Borget, whose late thrust saw him get up in the shadow of the post to deny Certain Flight (Michael Miller), who held a three lengths lead at the bottom of the hill. Shanann Star (Darren Edwards) finished a close third. Leanda has made the most of her opportunities this year and her nine winners currently put her one behind Charlotte Prichard for the National Novice title. Delta Borget was another winner for the in-form Leslie Jefford yard near Honiton. “Delta Borget has strengthened up a lot this year and you couldn’t ask for a better horse for a syndicate,” enthused the trainer, whose wife Lisa manages the ‘Here Comes The Girls’ group. Another few bottles of pink champagne no doubt consumed.
Leslie Jefford had saddled the first of his three winners of the day here in the shape of the grey Silver Commander (Will Biddick). It probably wasn’t part of the plan, but Biddick’s mount gave his fourteen opponents a ten lengths start and had to work his way through the field. Noble Aran made most of the running with Tourist Board and Little Cornham in close attendance. Silver Commander reached a challenging position at the last and cut through his rivals to score by half a length from Little Cornham with Noble Aran a close third. “He is still learning and is a potential staying chaser,” noted the successful trainer, who has charge of the Silver Patriarch gelding on behalf of the Exe Valley Racing Syndicate.
FletePark winner Sunken Secret (Ed Glassonbury) and In The Circle (Ryan Bliss) fought for the lead after EslinBridge had fallen when challenging at the second last. Dashing John was creeping closer with every stride however and 19-year-old Natalie Parker got a great response from him coming up the hill. Sunken Secret refused to give in, but ten-year-old Dashing John stayed on under a determined ride and got his head in front a few yards from the post to give his young rider her second career winner. Dashing John has proved to be a useful schoolmaster for the Parker family. Amazingly Dashing John’s sire My Best Valentine was a sprinter (he won the Group 1 Prix De L’Abbaye De Longchamp), but his dam Westerlands Queen was a three miles plus hunter chase winner for his breeder, the late John Manners. At least John would have smiled at breeding a stayer from a sprinter.
The 12th fence had claimed a few victims during the day and this time snared the odds-on favourite Barney’s Mate. Sobre Tresor (Josh Newman) and Light Touch (Vicky Wade) battled it out in front, but just as Sobre Tresor got the upper hand, he was collared at the top of the hill by the strong finishing Crank Hill (Tim Hampton) and Mister Moonax (Hannah Hawkins). Once again, a classic Bratton finish with just over two lengths separating the three principals on reaching the judge. The South Dorset gelding Crank Hill had recently finished runner up over four miles in a Cheltenham hunter chase so his staying power was not in doubt.
A short head verdict was the official decision this time as the 5-2 favourite King Kash (Richard Woollacott) held on grimly to withstand the strong challenge of FourstarRiver (Vicky Wade). “He appreciated the better ground today and just idled a bit on the flat,” said the jockey’s partner Kayley Jones, who now holds the point-to-point licence at Rose Ash since Richard has taken a National Hunt licence. King Kash was bought privately in Ireland last winter where he had been placed twice in Irish points.
A maximum field of 16 faced the starter, but the five-year-old Jewellery quickly established a long lead under Will Biddick. Jewellery kept up the gallop to come home in sparkling fashion to score with 25 lengths in hand of Floral Patches (Martin Cooney) with My Rebel (Leanda Tickle) making eye catching late progress to finish third. The winner formed part of a training treble for Leslie Jefford. Owned by Culmstock builder Mike Rowe, this tough little mare had already been placed on the flat and over hurdles before turning her attentions to pointing this year. Runner-up in two of her three previous outings, “she has not run a bad race all season,” said the trainer.