Spring has arrived and it’s the turn of the Spooners & West Dartmoor Hunt to host their meeting at the picturesque track known as Cherrybrook, near Tavistock this coming Sunday April 7th. 95 entries have been received for the eight races on offer with a start time of 1.30pm.
The popular local grey Dicky Bob has been entered in the opening Condy Mathias-sponsored Members race. He took this race last season here as a walkover and then went on to win the Mixed Open. Trainer Verity Nicholls has only entered him in this race here with his challengers all holding entries later in the day. Recent Kilworthy winner Ballyvodock is an eye catching new recruit for the Gordon Chambers yard, and could be the one to tackle Dicky Bob here. It’s All Or Nothing is already a three times course winner here but connections may choose the later Confined race, whilst entry Clondaw Bunny was held in second at Kilworthy to Ballyvodock, and could be another to bypass this race for the Confined.
Two divisions of the Open Maiden race follow, with 16 in each division. Tyre Marks Tavistock sponsor the first in which Neetside for trainer Jill Dennis stands out having finished two-lengths second to Isla’s Dream at Buckfastleigh and has the benefit of a weight allowance. Banco de Logo’s for team Summersby is another to note having finished in the frame twice this season with a second and third at the Buckfastleigh track and has had a seven week break to recover. In the second division Could Be Better (Stuart Sampson) has previous place form in Ireland, and Thewinnertakeitall for team Summersby has hinted at ability running second at Great Trethew behind Skinflint in February.
Entries in the Barriers International-sponsored Mixed Open race include the two classy mares Wind Tor a previous course winner here for trainer Ed Walker, and recent Buckfastleigh Open winner Whenharrymetsally under jockey Matt Hampton. Also top rated geldings The Last But One for Tom Malone has good previous NH form, has taken three Points this season and finished second in a Hunter Chase at Leicester in February, he will need to defy top weight here. Also Minella Fifty (Claire Hitch) has won 11 points to date including three at Axe Vale where he won the Mixed Open last April under Will Biddick, he goes well fresh and could be the one to lead the mares home.
Exeter Racecourse sponsor the Intermediate race which has attracted 15 entries, these include Buckfastleigh and Wadebridge winner Cloudy Music from team Summersby, he could be taken on by Kilworthy winner Ballyvodock if trainer Gordon Chambers chooses to bypass the earlier Members race.
Every Breakin Wave another out of the Claire Hitch yard, is the highest rated in the Cherrybrook Chance Conditions race having won three races in 2017, but needs to re-kindle that form. Kernal Victor is another to stand out in the conditions race having clocked up some decent form including three Men’s Open races in 2017, trainer Ed Walker could get some improvement on his recent place form.
River Myth from the Stuart Sampson team and It’s All or Nothing (Charlotte Rowe) are ones to note in the Rock Inn-sponsored Confined race, both having won this season. River Myth took the Conditions race at Milborne St Andrew with a seven-length comfortable win under jockey Darren Andrews, and more recently two-and-a half lengths second to Navanman at Charlton Horethorne. It’s All Or Nothing won this race in 2017, and this season scored a four-length win at Buckfastleigh in February, then was an unfortunate unseat for jockey Jo Supple in the Mixed Open at Charlton Horethorne when looked to be travelling well.
Finally up is the Active Services-sponsored Restricted race in which Minimalistic (Nikki Frost) could put up another fine performance having won at Buckfastleigh on two occasions this season, winning his maiden comfortably 15 lengths ahead of the field in February under Josh Newman, then followed that up with a win in the Members race at Kilworthy two weeks ago. He looks ready to progress and please his owners Susan & Edward Darke. Soul Kaliber (Dean Summersby) could be another winner on the board for jockey Darren Edwards, if improving on their seconds at Kilworthy and Cothelstone.
The course offers picturesque track-side viewing with many trade stands on offer. Hot and cold food, bar and bookies are also on offer. Entrance to the course is £10 per person to a max of £30 per car load. Children under 16 free. Dogs on leads welcome. Directions are signed from A386 North of Tavistock. PL19 OLA.
Favourite backers were soon on the front foot at Wadebridge, with the first three jollys obliging – but all at short prices.
The form book will show that Robin De Souza (1-7 to 1-8) beat Rockabay (9’s to 10’s) by a neck in the opener, but Darren Edwards never moved a muscle on the winner and gave his useful mount the easiest possible race. To be fair, the runner-up ran well and this Alflora gelding looks capable of a maiden victory.
Mic’s Delight (5-4 to evens) made all under his owner/trainer/rider in the Novice Riders’ to follow up his December course win. Although now 14 years old, he looked superb, and retains plenty of zest. Skylander (7-2 to 3’s) chased him home with Samingarry (4’s into 7-4) doing good late work to finish third.
I am too slow / old to rush about now so had to leave the 8-11 Sobre Tresor to the fleet of foot skirmishers. 4-9 ruled at the off in the seven-runner Ladies’ Open. Sobre Tresor duly landed his eighth win on the showground (The fondly remembered Byerley Bear won seven here from seven starts). Follow The Paint (6’s to 11-2) ranged up to the winner at the top of the hill but was shaken off round the final bend.
Two promising types went head to head in the Restricted and each looked fit and well in the paddock. Acadian (4-5 to 10-11) was marginally preferred in the market ahead of fellow Wadebridge winner in December, Broadclyst who was cut from 5-2 to 6-4. The pair dominated the closing stages with Broadclyst proving the stronger on the climb to the judge. This is a lovely chasing type by Ask and is a must for the note book.
Despite the yard showing good form, first time blinkered Chosen Lucky was ice cold in the betting market and was allowed to drift from 4-5 to 5-4 in a tiny field for the Men’s Open. The eventual winner Supreme Danehill (solid 6-4) is a renowned stayer and plugged on in the gamest fashion under Joe Hill after a slight blemish four from home. Will Biddick’s mount Before The War (3’s into 9-4) was not disgraced in second and will be winning before long. Chosen Lucky (third) can atone on better ground.
The ex-Dan Skelton hurdler Dragon de la Tour (7-4 fav) was all the rage in the first Maiden and did little wrong in chasing home Ruby Fool (4‘s into 5-2). The Dragon looks nailed on for a Maiden, and the Apple Tree mare Ruby Fool is no longer a bridesmaid. Richard (Ces) Mitford-Slade, who trains the home bred winner, is in such good form he could probably win with a donkey at the moment.
The other Maiden division (slower by 10 seconds) went to My King (5’s out to 7’s) who came up the final climb better than runner up Fouroclock Fox (evens – 5-4 fav). Joe Tickle does well with his pointers and had the ex-Nigel Hawke inmate My King looking a picture. Nikki Frost’s charge Gorcombe’s Rascal (12’s into 5’s in a weak market) was prominent for a long way before finishing third.
There was a whisper for Connies Cross (5-2 to 7-4) in the getting out stakes, but I backed Navanman (4’s to 9-2) on the basis of his two efforts in Opens. The Two Amigos (4-6 to 4-5) proved the punters friend in the end, easily holding Navanman from a long way out.
“He liked the rain-washed Cornish air and smell of ploughed up soil,,,”
From a poem by Sir John Betjeman 1906-1984. This UK Poet Laureate died in the coastal village of Trebetherick, 6 miles from Wadebridge, and is buried in the churchyard there.
The chilly Cornish air on Sunday must have been manufactured in the North Pole.
Darren Edwards reached a personal landmark of 250 career winners in the saddle with a double at the North Cornwall fixture at Wadebridge.
This season had not started well for the reigning Devon & Cornwall area champion jockey with rib injuries sustained at Barbury Castle. However, sitting in the changing room after landing the Confined on The Two Amigos, Edwards said, “that makes 250 winners. I have had 223 point-to-point winners and 27 under rules”.
The popular rider had earlier steered Robin De Souza to a hands and heels victory over Rockabay in the Hunt race. The official neck verdict could have been a lot further as the long odds-on shot was nursed up the hill to the judge with plenty in hand. Dean Summersby, who trains this useful pointer for Eileen and Tony Worth, reported that the eight-year-old seems to have benefited from a recent palate operation. “I just wanted to make him stretch on the bridle”, commented the rider.
Chosen Lucky started favourite for the Summersby/Edwards combination in the Men’s Open, but could only finish third behind all the way winner Supreme Danehill (Joe Hill) and Before The War (Will Biddick). “ It’s his first run of the season and he is nothing but game. It was hard work on this tacky ground,” said the 22-year-old rider of the winner after making their four hour journey from Oxfordshire worthwhile. “He could try to repeat last year’s win in the Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup at Cocklebarrow in three weeks. “We now have him in a new syndicate called The Sunday Night Partnership – so named because we have a hell of a party with Sunday winners,” smiled the young rider.
Course specialists seem very much at home on the undulating Royal Cornwall Showground track. Sobre Tresor (Chloe Emsley) knows every inch of the track and was recording his eighth Wadebridge success in winning the Skinner’s Ladies’ Open from the mare Follow The Paint (Brodie Hampson), who was looking for her fourth course win. “I could see Brodie niggling away at the top of the hill and mine found more and went away,” said the winning rider.
Mic’s Delight gave his owner/trainer/rider Jennifer Davenport a great ride in the Novice Riders’ event. This consistent 14-year-old pointer sailed round in a generous lead to follow up his course success before Christmas. The Modbury based vet who, “does it for fun,” exclaimed that “he jumped amazingly.”
Two promising pointers clashed in the Restricted, each having won their Maidens at the previous Wadebridge fixture. It was Broadclyst who came out on top, drawing effortlessly clear of Acadian on the climb to the judge. Bought as a store by owner Sue Trump, six-year-old Broadclyst is trained by Robert Chanin and was making only his third racecourse appearance. Jockey Tom Chanin was full of praise for his mount saying. “He learnt a lot today. He is a proper chaser and sprinted away up the hill.”
Somerset based mare Ruby Fool had finished runner-up to Broadclyst here last month and duly landed her division of the Open Maiden under 26-year-old Matt Hampton who said. “She is a lovely ride and we found fresh ground on the outer.” Will Biddick’s mount Dragon de la Tour looked a big danger round the final bend, but the mare found extra after jumping the last. Home bred by Lucy Fielding-Johnson, and jointly owned and trained by her partner Richard Mitford-Slade, Ruby Fool is a half sister to their good pointer Raffa. The trainer is enjoying a golden spell at present and produced another home bred in Samuel Jackson to wins at Taunton (100-1) and Bangor recently. “Ruby Fool has been working with Samuel Jackson but needed a head start,” confided the trainer who went on to win with another ex-pointer at Taunton on Tuesday.
My King won the other Maiden for owner Danni Kenealy and trainer Joe Tickle, who had the ex-Nigel Hawke hurdler turned out to perfection for his fencing debut. The six-year-old provided a second career victory for 21-year-old jockey Kieren Buckley who rides out for the Hawke yard. My King was always holding the favourite Fouroclock Fox up the finishing hill although only half a length separated the pair on the line.
OVERNIGHT rain gave way to a cool, blustery afternoon at Bratton Down where it was business as usual with a double for the unstoppable combination of trainer Jack Barber and jockey Will Biddick.
The progressive Whataknight was given a typically patient Biddick ride to win the Men’s Open. “He was rushed off his feet for the first two miles so I had to be patient. You can’t go quick and keep going quick here,” explained the rider on the verge of securing his fourth consecutive National championship. Six-year-old Whataknight remains unbeaten in his four races this season.
Trainer Jack Barber has enjoyed a remarkable season in winning his first trainers championship, increasing his winning tally from 14 last year to 50 this season. His half century came up when Brandevin, making his racecourse debut, overcame greenness to win a section of the Maiden which was divided on the day.
Once again Biddick nursed and educated his mount from the back until swooping to lead up the final climb. “He was really green and ticks every box. There is room for improvement in him,” reported Biddick, who was enjoying his 66th winner of the season and whose career successes in the saddle had topped the 300 mark at Stratford just a few days before. Four-year-old Brandevin was purchased at the Cheltenham breeze up sales last December by Tom Malone. He is now in the ownership of Colm Donlon and Richard Webb. “He has needed time but he works well and jumps well,” said Jack Barber.
The race was marred when Jo Buck was fired into the ground when her mount Strong Hurricane fell at the second fence. Jo was concussed and spent the night in Barnstaple hospital. She was reported to have facial injuries but thankfully a scan revealed no broken bones.
Biddick’s mount Master Max was runner up in the other Maiden division won by Matt Hampton on six-year-old mare Spendajennie. Bought at the Tattersalls Derby sales as a four-year-old, the Old Vic mare is owned by Andrew and Hannah Broggio and is trained by Kayley Woollacott who described her charge as, “ A lovely madam who works and jumps well at home,” Kayley was achieving her 25th pointing winner of the season, in addition to a hunter chase.
Claire Hitch trains just a few miles from the course and saddled Minella Fifty to win the Ladies’ Open after a battle with the consistent Presentandcorrect. The winning rider, 19-year-old Charlotte Prichard, is looking forward to three months working holiday in New Zealand during the summer.
Bernshaw has proved something of a Bratton Down course specialist for the Claire Hitch stable, but could only finish third on this occasion in the Hunt race behind The Mystro. Lee Drowne, who works in the Nigel Hawke yard, sent his mount to the front at the third last before drawing right away from Father Owen. Placed over hurdles in Ireland for Mouse Morris, the winner is now with Keith Cumings, and had been knocking at the door in his English points this season.
The Flying Doc treated her nine Restricted rivals with disdain. The mare was cruising coming to the last and Robbie Henderson only had to let out an inch of rein coming up the hill to overcome A Real Cliché and Winter Garden. “She is a pocket rocket and jumped brilliantly,” confirmed the jockey. Ed Walker bought the Dr Massini seven-year-old for only 4,000 euros at Tattersalls, Ireland last August. She had scored at Didmarton on her English debut in March where she was ridden by Ed Barrett, who subsequently suffered serious injuries in a fall at the Eggesford a few weeks later.
Favourite backers soon knew their fate when long distance traveller Credit Crunched blundered and unseated Johny Bailey at the fifth fence in the Intermediate which was run in memory of Donna Kingdon. What About Will took command entering the final circuit and strode clear after the last. Neil Harris saddled the winner who was partnered by Vicky Wade for her father Keith. “He has sharpened up his jumping after his two recent Hunter chases,” said the trainer.
1 dead heat Devon General (Matt Hampton) 5-2 led three out, blundered last two fences, caught on line
1 dead heat Mausefalle (Darren Edwards) 10-1 prom, went 2nd three out, strong run flat, joined ldr on line
3 Kings Bench (David Noonan) 4-1 stayed on well from three out
8 ran; dead heat; 3l; 6m 26s
Owner: Devon General Mr & Mrs John Burrow ; Trainer; Kayley Woollacott
Owner Mausefalle Mike Bickell; Trainer; Dean Summersby
Men’s Open (T L Rowe, Park Homes)
1 Robin Will (Matt Hampton) 3-1 held up, effort three out, led last, soon clear
2 Posh Totty (Will Biddick) 1-3 fav took lead 14th, headed last, no extra flat
3 Rush N Roll (Michael Legg) 8-1 hdwy 13th, no extra from two out
4 ran; 3l; 8l; 6m 28s
Owner: Mr & Mrs John Symes; Trainer; Kayley Woollacott
1 Ned White (Leanda Tickle) 7-4 fav made all, drew clear two out, comf
2 Florence Mary (Lucy Mager) 9-4 went 2nd 13th, every chance til wknd two out
3 Battle Bridge (Chloe Swaffield) 11-2 some hdwy four out, took 3rd flat, no ch ldrs
5 ran; 7l; 10l; 6m 27s
Owner; Mrs J and Mr N Elliott: Trainer; Robert Chanin
1 Cock Of The Rock (Harry Cobden) 1-3 fav held up, smooth prog to lead two out, soon clear
2 Le Clo De La Londe (Sean Houlihan) 9-2 led 10th til headed two out
3 Mumbles Pier (R Patrick) 11-2 disputed lead / close up til wknd four out
8 ran; 12l; 25l; 6m 24s;
Owner; Harry Cobden; Trainer; Rachael Green
1 High Priority (Josh Newman) 4-1 took lead three out, rdn clr next, easily
2 Onwegoagain (Darren Edwards) 9-1 chased winner from three out, stayed on one pace
3 Forrardon Exmoor (Vicky Wade) 15-8 fav led til four out, well held from next
10 ran; 5l; 25l; 6m 31s
Owner; Mr & Mrs P Clarke & Mrs J Cumings; Trainer; Keith Cumings
1 Baldhu High Tide (Vicky Wade) 25-1 led til 12th & agn from three out, clear when blundered last, easily
2 Cloudy Coma (Sam Ellicott) 12-1 stayed on from three out
3 Meldon Express (Jo Buck) 2-1 jt fav hit 14th, went 2nd three out til flat
7 ran; 6l; head; 6m 42s
Owner; Mrs S Wevill; Trainer; Lizzie Luxton
1. CHURCHILL – Tamby Welch
2. THE JOBS NOT STRAIGHT – Tyler Heard
3. GINGER WIZARD – Chad Bament
4. MOCKING BIRD – Alfie Godfrey
5. BECCA WALK O’ THE WILD SIDE – Molly Landau
6. JOBANKER MORNING MIST – Finn Muirhead
7. MASSEREENE PORTORA – Harry Brown (10)
8. MENEDH JUMPING JACK FLASH – Otis Morgan
9. WIDE VALLEY BATMAN – Walter Fisher-Barnett
10.WIDE VALLEY MARCH – Ruby Fisher-Barnett
148cm & under at 12.20pm
1. DONT TELL DAI – Connor Brace
2. CALYPSO – Ben Godfrey
3. IGO ZUMINOV – James Armstrong
4. VADLAWALKOVER – Tamby Welch
5. SHOTGUN MINNIE – Tyler Heard
6. SPRINGS – Thomasina Eyston
7. GOODNIGHT – Bruce Young
8. BARBOZA – Isabel Hunt
1. CHURCHILL – Tamby Welch
2. THE JOBS NOT STRAIGHT – Tyler Heard
3. MOLLY – Connor Brace
4. GINGER WIZARD – Chad Bament
5. MAYDAY BLACK MINK – Charlie Sprake
6. MAGIC – Honor Weatherlake
7. CLONAMULLY DANNY BOY – Archie Woollacott
8. CHINKWELL FELIX – Taylor Fisher
NR BECCA WALK O’ THE WILD SIDE – Molly Landau
148cm & under
1. PEATEAOH – Connor Brace
2. VADLAWALKOVER – Tamby Welch
3. IGO ZUMINOV – James Armstrong
4. GOODNIGHT – Bruce Young
5. SPRINGS – Thomasina Eyston
6. SHOTGUN MINNIE – Tyler Heard
7. NUALA – Michael Treneer