The Eggesford turned out to be a memorable meeting. The record for the highest career total by a jockey in Britain was broken when Cornishman Will Biddick rode a double to set a new record of 415 pointing winners.
The record had stood since Richard Burton retired in 2011. Biddick, 32, who rode his first winner in 2004, immediately superseded Burton as champion jockey, and claimed that title on six consecutive occasions, setting a record himself for a seasonal total of 68 winners in 2015. He was runner up to Alex Edwards for the title last season, and the pair are vying for the Fuller's sponsored Men's championship again this year.
The progressive Crown of Thorns initiated Biddick's double at a very blustery Upcott Cross, making all the running in the Exeter Racecourse sponsored Intermediate. The Pidsley family gelding proved a shrewd buy at Goffs Doncaster sales last September out of Noel Meade's yard, and the Sarah Pidsley trained six-year-old was scoring for the fourth time this season.
Biddick's record breaking ride was Kernel Victor who shook off Cloudy Music in the home straight to win the Confined. Trainer Ed Walker shares ownership of this prolific pointer with popular West country stalwart John Pearn , and the gelding has fared even better with blinkers applied. "It is nice to get the record, but my main aim is to get the title back this year," said the Truro born rider who now operates a pointing yard at Ditcheat . Amidst rousing cheers, his fellow jockeys joined in the celebrations by promptly ducking him in the paddock water trough.
Darren Andrews is enjoying his best season in the saddle and followed up a Hunt race victory on River Myth, by completing a double thanks to the promising Dr Kananga.
River Myth upset odds-on favourite Navanman, already a five-times winner this season. The result was quite emphatic though as Andrews sent the mare about her business at the final ditch. The 26-year-old jockey went on to steer Dr Kananga home in the second Maiden division. "He was only broken last September. We have been trying to find safe ground. He really wants it soft and may go for the Aintree bumper next month," reported trainer Ben Clarke.
The other section of the Maiden saw Banco De Logos finally get his head in front under Darren Edwards. Consistently placed, the eight –year-old rallied to beat Willaldo after looking vulnerable at the penultimate. "We thought he could win two or three on the bounce after his second to Road To Rome at Buckfastleigh, but he hasn't been quite right at times and has been frustrating," said trainer Dean Summersby.
Willaldo carried Bryan Carver wearing the colours made famous by Oliver Carter 's top horses. The rider had earlier found the winner's enclosure as four-year-old Getaround fulfilled the promise of his Monmouthshire run last month by running away with the young horses Maiden. Ella Pickard trains Getaround for her sister Ruby. "We bought him at Goffs Land Rover sales last June and he is a very exciting prospect," exclaimed the young trainer. It was good to see Martin Pipe forsaking the glitter of Sandown's jumping finale to present the prizes for this David Pipe sponsored race.
Fergus Gillard, who works for the David Pipe yard, had his 17th birthday two days before and celebrated in the best possible way with a cool winning ride on Margaret Alford's Herbert Park in the Mixed Open. Saffron Wells set up a 20 lengths lead and was still well clear at the third last, but Gillard was confident enough to delay his challenge on the quirky Ray Alford trained gelding as long as possible, and swept into the lead jumping the last. "I had a lot underneath me and didn't want to get there too soon," seemed a bit of an understatement from the rider, yet another promising jockey to emerge from the pony racing circuit.