Darren Edwards returned in good form from a recent injury to capture the Men's Open on Robin de Souza in blustery conditions at Black Forest Lodge.
Once again the leading Devon & Cornwall area rider teamed up successfully with Launceston trainer Dean Summersby, as the consistent seven-year-old held off the strong finishing Welstonedruid after establishing a long lead round the final bend. Owned by Tony and Eileen Worth, Robin de Souza was contesting his first Open as he notched up his seventh win in this country. "I went a bit wide for the better ground and went where I wanted," reported the jockey, who jumped his mount into the lead four out before recording his 11th winner of the season. Dean Summersby has an enviable record this season and currently heads the National table for trainers with seven horses or less. "I have had nine winners from 14 runs this season so far. This horse got a bit lonely out in front and I didn't think it was soft enough today. He may go to Kilworthy but it is ground dependant." said the trainer.
The stable's only other runner of the day, Rockinrolldixie, was seeking a seasonal hat trick in the Club Members Conditions race. Darren Edwards brought him to challenge three out, but it was Parkam Jack who proved the stronger on the home run, The winner has been a wonderful servant to owners John and Floss Symes, and gave regular rider Jamie Thomas his third winner of the season. "He travelled and jumped really well today," remarked the jockey, as trainer Kayley Woollacott added, "It didn't go to plan at Taunton (hunter chase over two miles), but he is coming to himself now and this trip (two and a half miles) was ideal. We have had him in the yard since he was three."
Skinner's Pet Foods are new national sponsors for pointing this year. Their Ladies' Open series culminates in a Stratford hunter chase final in June. Western Diva landed their prize here in decisive style to give jockey Claire Hardwick her fifth winner of the season. Claire said, "She is one of ten I train near Stow on the Wold. Nick Sarson, who sadly died only recently, bought her privately from the Pipe's. She is now owned by The Mini Dreams Partnership which is Sue Horton, me, my mum and Auntie Chris. She runs in the same colours carried by Celtic Shot when he won the Champion Hurdle."
The Dapper Fox came from off the pace to take the Intermediate ridden by his owner/trainer Jack Veysey, who had to make a very late dash to re-saddle after nearly omitting to carry his 5lbs penalty. Cullompton farrier Jack has now won four times on his nine-year-old and said, "He is an out and out stayer but hit a flat spot in the middle of the race."
Joan Bury's Bogoss du Perret followed up his course win at the Silverton with a very easy success in the Restricted. Bryony Frost soon had the six-year-old out in front and came home with 25 lengths to spare for her seventh winner of the season under one of the afternoon's regular rainbows. "He was never out of third gear," reported Bryony, whose brother Hadden bought the gelding unbroken in France. Now trained by Nikki Frost, the winner had gained experience in the Frost's National hunt yard. His former trainer Jimmy said, "He was weak and is now beginning to mature beautifully."
Bryony, who is looking forward to her Cheltenham Foxhunter ride next week on Pacha du Polder, went on to finish runner-up in the Open Maiden on Lavender's Lad, who carried the same colours as her earlier winner. This time the Welsh challenger Ramble On dominated proceedings with an impressive display of jumping to give Byron Moorcroft his fifth winner of the season. This sturdy gelding was saddled by Pontypridd based Kieran Price for his wife Hazel. "I have six pointers in training and Spencer Moon won for us at Great Trethew last week. I bought Ramble On in Ireland out of Eric McNamara's yard." said the trainer.