GRANVILLE TAYLOR GIVES HIS RACE-BY-RACE ANALYSIS
Plenty of rain during the week meant ground on the soft side at Flete Park, and the times got slower as the going became holding for the latter races. A typically huge Flete Park crowd braved the showers to see a total of 62 runners contest the seven races at this lovely parkland setting.
Mixed Open – Lord Mildmay Memorial – 4 miles (Totnes & Bridgetown Races Co Ltd)
Wee Fly is something of a standing dish ar Flete Park and won for the fourth time at this track under a first class ride from Jo Buck. Wee Fly looked very fit in the preliminaries and started 2-1 joint favourite with the Cothelstone winner Teri D Trixter (Neil Harris). Jo was content to sit off the early pace as Gershwinner (Merv Woodward) made the running, but eased her mount into contention at the top of the hill for the final time. Gershwinner, The Patriarch Game and Teri D Trixter all held chances at the second last where the latter blundered away his chance, but Jo Buck timed her challenge to perfection and hit the front on the game Cornish mare inside the final 100 yards. “I would like to help Jo win the title (National Ladies’) and Wee Fly will come back here for the Modbury four-miler in a fortnight,” reported Wee Fly’s owner/trainer Ross Oliver, who does some of the work with his little star in the saddle on Mawgan Porth beach.
Searree was made favourite on the strength of recent wins at Wadebridge and Trebudannon, where he had Direct Flight and Wee Fly behind him. He seemed to find it hard work here on the more testing ground and had little chance from the top of the hill. The best backed horse was Shanann Star who was backed at all rates into 7-2 after being laid early to one regular West Country “face” at 10-1. Darren Edwards stuck to the inside rails like glue, and pushed the Anshan mare clear from the second last .to beat Before The War convincingly. Darren was partnering his 19th winner of the season and his father Gordon commented, “She is an honest mare who jumps well and has gradually improved. She may run under rules in the summer,” Shanann Star is very much a family mare, but had to seek forgiveness during the week from Darren’s mother Angela. “She was feeling well and bucked me off in the field and I ended with cracked ribs,” said Angela trying to raise a smile.
Certain Flight (Will Biddick) led from the second fence and ran on strongly when pressed in the closing stages by Googoobarabajagal (Michael Heard) to whom he was conceding 5lbs. The winner is trained by Keith Cumings for owners Richard and Tina Dunsford. “This is not really his ground or track,” said the trainer. His jockey added: “He coped with the ground but did not enjoy it.” He is already qualified for the Intermediate hunter chase final at Exeter and that is likely to be his next objective.
Direct Flight might be at the veteran stage but proved that he retains plenty of ability with a hard fought success over the useful Brook Castle. Vicky Wade was riding her fourth winner of the season on the tall 14-year-old, who she also trains for owners Roger Grose, Ronald and Jackie Bunney and her father Keith. Direct Flight was a useful hurdler and chaser in his day, latterly for Jeremy Scott. “He lost his way a bit under rules and came to me at Christmas,” said Vicky.
Open Maiden 4 to 7 year olds, 2m 4f: (Francis Clark)
The newcomer Devon Fare was sent off 4-1 favourite in a wide open market but this half sister to Devon Mead showed lots of greenness and was pulled up before the 12th fence. Cloudlass and Palfrey Boy did the early donkey work, but King’s Scout jumped into the lead at the third last under Micheal Nolan. Driftwood Pride (Richard Woollacott) loomed up as the danger down the hill, but despite running down the final fence, King’s Scout had enough in reserve to hold the promising Driftwood Pride. “That’s a relief,” commented the winner’s trainer Ashley Farrant, adding, “we have had a bug in the yard and he is one of only three with a decent blood count at the moment. He has lots of ability, tons of speed and stays well.” King’s Scout was bought at the Derby sales in Ireland as a three-year-old on behalf of owner Laura Claydon. His half brother called Wilton Milan changed hands for £85,000 at last week’s Cheltenham sales and is joining Paul Nicholls.
The ground had become holding when this race was run, resulting in a time in excess of seven minutes. The winner Sparkbridge did it the hard way, slogging it out with nearest rival Gontdevon to pass the judge with two lengths to spare, having survived a last fence blunder. James Legg had the mount on nine-year-old Sparkbridge, bought by his parents Roger and Jenny out of Simon Burroughs’ yard 18 months ago. This Cotley qualified gelding began his career almost seven years ago when narrowly beaten in a two-year-old flat contest at Ayr on his debut. The Legg family have done very well to keep Sparkbridge sweet latterly, and his breeding suggests a distinct lack of stamina. His sire Mull of Kintyre was a six furlongs performer whose progeny have no pretensions to staying three miles in a horse box – until now.
Hunt Race – Bill Goodman Memorial – (Mrs Sally Goodman)
Bryony Frost set a decent pace on Whatcanisay who jumped well out in front. The race changed shape in the final stages however as Barney Again sailed past at the second last with the Irish Maiden winner Sunken Secret left to chase him home. Barney Again has taken well to pointing and was following up his Kilworthy win. He was taking on a huge task on his last appearance when runner up to Buck’s Bond at Trebudannon, and certainly looked the form pick here. “I might have run him in the Restricted but it was soft enough and he probably needs good ground,” commented the winner’s owner/trainer Mike Weir who is appropriately Master of the Dartmoor hounds.