Blackmore & Sparkford Vale
Sunday 13th March 2011
by Brian & Gill Armstrong
Jenny Carr punched the air as Miss Midnight took a thrilling three-way battle for the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Ladies' Open on Sunday. Miss Midnight was never far behind pace-setter Ask Again (Sarah West) and the pair duelled throughout the last circuit. Chloe Roddick brought Hoo La Baloo through to challenge and the three horses jumped the last virtually in a line before Miss Midnight gained the upper hand by a neck and a head. "Bless her, I didn't think we could win this race. I didn't know we'd got such a little super star", said Thornicombe handler, Mary Tory, who trains the mare for Bridport owners, John and Greer Norman.
Former duel Cheltenham Festival winner My Way De Solzen took a cracking Men's Open which featured a second Cheltenham Festival winner (Thisthatandtother) and a Racing Post Chase winner, Gungadu. My Way De Solzen led throughout and prevailed by a neck after Kiama challenged all the way up the straight. "He's not an easy ride, as he likes to be in front, but then has a tendency to idle", admitted jockey Ryan Mahon. The winner will continue to run in point-to-points and could be a possible mount for Ryan's sisters, Ella and Lara, in ladies' contests.
Kiama's jockey, Will Biddick, was in double form with Marianne Barber's Dualla Lord (Hunt race) and Heather Sheppard's Restricted winner, The Slug. The former looked a terrific prospect, as he barely came off the bridle to coast home. "I was keen to win this race, as the Trophy is in memory of John Farthing", said Marianne, who confirmed that the grey will continue to run in point-to-points throughout the season. The Slug came right away from his field in the straight after a patient ride. "[Trainer/rider] Chloe [Roddick] gave up the ride to save herself for Serecina in Friday's Christies' Foxhunter", said Heather. "The Slug is only small, so we might bypass Intermediates, as the 11-stone weight in Ladies' races should suit him".
Robbie Henderson rode a Maiden race double to secure a share of the Dufosee Trophy, which is presented in memory of John, Jane and Jason Dufosee, with Will Biddick. Robbie led off with Newlyn Bay, who put in a fine round of jumping in the 2m4f contest. "We've been in two minds whether to run all weekend", admitted owner Rob Croker. "We walked the course yesterday, at 8am this morning and after the first race this afternoon, when we finally decided to run". Robbie doubled up with Ed Walker and Francis Read's Blazing Whale, who came from off the pace in the 3 mile event. "I bought the horse from his breeders after he had had one run for us last season", said Ed, who trains the 6-year-old at Ottery St Mary. "We only decided to run after it rained last night and unfortunately Francis had to go back to Newmarket, so he's missed the win".