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Devon & Somerset Staghounds at Holnicote
Sunday 1st May 2016
by Kirsty Boutflower

The first Sunday in May will be a day forever etched in Chris Barber's memory following his 25 length win on board the Stuart Sampson trained Top Chief in the Novice Riders Race and thereby giving him his first winner. Although having a stellar Point to Pointing pedigree himself, Chris was quick to heap praise on 4 time Champion and champion jockey-elect, Will Biddick, with whom he shares a house and credits with being his mentor. Chris rides out for Paul Nicholls and Jack Barber and he stylishly put the race to bed after taking up the running from the open ditch to coast home with ease from Swansbrook after a promising run last week when a close second at Axe Vale. Co-owner and local Area Steward, Terry Hamblin felt the quicker ground had been much in his favour. Biddick himself was back in the winner's enclosure following what ended as little more than a schooling round for Benedictus as this former Coronation Gold Cup winner finished alone after sole rival Really Unique departed 5 out.

Trainer Teresa Clark also had a day to remember with a double kicked off by Grey Dream in the 3m maiden much to the delight of connections. Teresa's partner, Jeremy Cossey, said "he has been so consistent for us being placed 17-18 times but has really benefited from this quicker ground and a positive ride." The horse had come from David Pipe's and was the only one they had had from the yard that hadn't won for them. Ballyanrahan duly obliged in the last under a good ride from Sean Houlihan, after a tussle with Welsh raider, Thatcher's Brook. Teresa had always kept the faith in the 10yo and felt the better ground and first time tongue-tie had played a big part.

The Confined race saw only 2 runners with only Crackacan and Imperial Circus declared but it proved to be an exciting contest nevertheless and recorded the fastest time of the day. The pair jumped the last upsides after a good pace throughout and Crackacan ran out a narrow winner for trainer Julie Pocock and jockey Darren Edwards. Edwards felt the horse had plenty of raw ability but doesn't want to be in front for long as he had been at Cothelstone when winning there last time out.

Jockey Lucy Mager was sporting a special set of colours that had been an unusual 21st birthday present from her friends when steering Moscow Prices to victory in the maiden for her co-owners, her mother and also trainer Kim Tripp. Moscow Prices who was also awarded best turned out is by Alflora, the prolific NH stallion who died this week. Trainer Kim Tripp credited jockey Lucy with doing all the work on the horse including hunting with the Weston & Banwell and also hunter trials. Kim had purchased the horse "blind" after Polly Walker had rung her and said she had been offered a nice horse in Ireland but didn't have an owner for him. She felt her "old fashioned way of training" taught to her by Ron Fear had also played a part.

The day had got off to a surprise winner when former Philip Hobbs inmate, Neville, outgunned the odds-on favourite In the Tub under Nick Lawton for owner/trainer Mark Pendarves. The jockey managed to survive a horrendous blunder by the horse at the first and Pendarves confirmed that the horse had had jumping issues which was why they had decided to give him a chance to regain his confidence in the pointing field. They had nearly sent the horse to Doncaster Sales but felt he may not sell so decided to persevere with him. He would probably return to Sandhill Stables for his next outing.

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