Wet weather had arrived on Exmoor in time to ease the going for the third and final point-to-point of the season at Bratton Down.
A total of 42 runners for the six races at this picturesque venue included the usual quota of late season long distance travellers on a day which featured a first ever riding treble for 23-year-old James King.
The rider started the day with a pillar to post success on Lawsons Thorns. This gelding, based at the local Rackenford yard of Mike Vanstone, was completing his own personal treble, having won at the previous two Bratton Down fixtures recently. This time, starting odds-on favourite, he had to cope with the useful mare Cloudy Music, recently crowned as the Jockey Club champion mare. Liam Harrison brought the mare to challenge at the penultimate fence, but King's mount galloped on relentlessly to score by five lengths.
The rider had to work harder on Namako, who has been running consistently without winning all season. This time Namako made steady progress and was left clear when the favourite Desert Roe fell at the last. "I think I had the beating of him," reported the winning rider who was wearing the colours of Hugh Jarvis and trainer Alan Hill. Namako was paying a quick return visit to Bratton Down from his trainer's Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire yard, having finished second in the Exmoor Men's Open just a week ago.
Desert Roe's jockey Jack Tudor has had an up and down season. The 17-year-old suffered a broken leg early in the season, then rode 22 winners to secure two major National novice riders titles (Harley Racing PPORA and Fuller's), and looks to have ended his season with a broken collar bone sustained in Desert Roe's fall.
Nothing was stopping James King however as he went on to complete his treble and his 14th pointing winner of the season, as Welsh invaders Airpur Desbois and Seniergues (with Ben Jones stepping in for Jack Tudor) fought out the finish of the nine runner Restricted. King produced Airpur Desbois to challenge course winner Seniergues at the penultimate and would not be denied on the stiff climb to the judge. "He needs a patient ride, has improved through the season and will be better next year," was how the delighted rider summed up his Gareth Moore trained winner .
The Open Maiden winner, Basher Brian, was another return visitor to the track, having finished runner up to Seniergues at the Dulverton West last month. This time Byron Moorcroft had Basher Brian prominent throughout, and just fended off the challenge of Spring Break up the final hill. Ironically James King's only losing ride of the day came on the Getaway gelding Spring Break who is from the yard of his employer Will Biddick.
Byron Moorcroft, who also trains Basher Brian at his Cowbridge yard for owner Jason Warner is enjoying his best season in the saddle and clocked up his 28th winner on this lightly raced eight-year-old.
Holy Water was well fancied to give Moorcroft another winner in the Intermediate, but had to give best to the progressive Soul Kaliber in the hands of Darren Edwards. Despite carrying a 5lbs penalty, the winner drew away effortlessly up the finishing hill to beat Holy Water by 10 lengths . The ex-Gigginstown nine-year-old Soul Kaliber started the season as a maiden and was achieving his fifth success for the Little Acres Racing Club. He is in pole position now for the leading horse award for the Devon & Cornwall area. "He has had lots of physio and has improved through the season," remarked trainer Dean Summersby, who also mentioned that Soul Kaliber had spent two and a half hours held up on the M5 in an abortive attempt to get to the Stratford hunter chase meeting recently.
Amy Cox rode her third career winner when Beggar's Velvet took a good quality Ladies'Open at the expense of the favourite Ramble On (Jodie Hughes), who was conceding 4lbs . The pair dominated the closing stages, coming very close together on the brow of the finishing hill before Beggar's Velvet, despite hanging towards his opponent as they squeezed up the rails, stayed on dourly to win by a length subsequently surviving a stewards enquiry. Trained by Fran Nimmo, the veteran Dr Massini gelding is proving a good schoolmaster for his rider having carried her to victory three times in the last 16 days.
The meeting included a short tribute to Richard Barber who had passed away two days before. A legendary trainer, Richard had saddled the last of his numerous winners at Bratton Down (Whataknight ridden by Will Biddick) five years ago.