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Axe Vale at Stafford Cross
Sunday 24th April 2016
by Granville Taylor

22-YEAR-OLD jockey Darren Andrews achieved the first double of his career at the action packed Axe Vale Harriers meeting on good going at Stafford Cross.

Overafrica drew clear on the long run in to set the ball rolling in the Hunt race. The 10-year-old, whose last winning form was two years ago, was bought at Ascot sales last July and evidently appreciates good ground. "We put blinkers on him today. He is my fifth career winner and is trained by my girl friend Lauren Reed near the course at Seaton." reported the successful jockey.

Overafrica was returned at 20-1, but Mountain Cliché, the second leg of the jockey's double, was even bigger at 25-1. The winner was being challenged by Guerrilla Tactics when the latter fell at the last, and eventually got home by a short head from the fast finishing Vila Cova. Owned by Jacqui Dawe and trained by her husband Nick, the nine-year-old is likely to be aimed at the Subaru Restricted Series Final at Stratford next month.

Tom Bishop was another happy jockey, partnering his first winner for three years when his mother's Theatre Evening scored in a tight finish to the Confined. "We got him from Fergal O'Brien three years ago and he is our monkey," laughed the 32-year-old jockey. "He usually has a pony companion but we didn't bring him today. I work away in construction project management and mother (Frances) deserves the praise, along with Poppy Skipper who helps by riding out," added the rider.

The consistent Midnight Legend mare Posh Totty scored for the fourth time this season when making much of the running to win the Mixed Open. "She is a fun little mare and we keep her sweet," said trainer Jack Barber who was adding to his Trebudannon double on the previous day. Will Biddick partnered Posh Totty and narrowly missed out on his double when Doyen Dynamo was caught close home by Tom Barton in the Intermediate. The Sally Alner trained winner, ridden by Stan Sheppard, was achieving his seasonal hat trick and looks a fine prospect.

The 12-runner Novice Rider's race developed into a battle between the favourite Minella Fifty (Taylor Pook), and Top Chief (Christopher Barber), with the former just holding on. Taylor Pook was returning from a rib injury to partner the winner for the Claire Hitch yard.

Saul Woods rode the first winner of his career when Broadway Blueshirt took the first Maiden division – possibly the first Spanish registered horse to win an English point-to-point. The 17-year-old Liverpool born jockey is another progeny of the Philip Hobbs academy. Broadway Blueshirt is trained by Kate Legg at Somerton.

Jonimo had run well at Ston Easton last month, and the seven-year-old Alflora gelding was nicely backed before landing the other Maiden division to give Sean Houlihan his sixth winner of the season.

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