IT was a day of doubles with plenty of mud flying on the Royal Cornwall showground at Wadebridge for the North Cornwall eight-race card on Sunday (Jan 8).
Fresh from his Wincanton hurdles victory on the previous day, Darren Edwards completed a double thanks to Air Glider and Chosen Lucky. "That was a good exercise canter and will do his confidence good," said the jockey, as Air Glider toyed with his two rivals in the opening Members' race. Dean Summersby had successfully saddled his Doncaster sales purchase, describing the ex-Dan Skelton trained seven-year-old as, "a nice matured horse and a terrific jumper who may progress to hunter chasing."
Following his December course win, Chosen Lucky was not hard pressed to complete the rider and trainer's double in the Restricted after the departure of High Priority at the third last. "I had doubts about the ground and he will be better on better ground," commented the Devon trainer, who had kept his ex-Irish charge busy last autumn, winning hunter trials, a team chase and even a moonlight steeplechase as part of his education.
All good things come to an end, and Summersby's 100% strike rate for the season (four out of four) was halted as Robin De Souza failed narrowly to concede 3 lbs to Before The War in the Confined. This time it was Josh Newman steering his mount into the winner's enclosure after Before The War had gamely worn down Robin De Souza on the climb to the post. The winner missed the whole of last season with leg trouble "He will come on for the run. He loves undulating tracks and is used to carrying weight as I ride him every day," smiled trainer Ed Walker
Josh Newman was completing his double initiated by Minim Mouse in the second Open Maiden. Michael Dare's home bred six-year-old, trained by the jockey's aunt, Chloe Newman, survived a blunder two out but showed plenty of resolution to hold Ruby Fool.
Woolminstone, Somerset trainer Chloe Newman had earlier sent out Sobre Tresor to score his fifth course success in the Ladies' Open. Jockey Taylor Pook was taking her career total into double figures as her mount just held on to deny the late thrust of odds-on favourite Start Royal (Gina Andrews). "Taylor gave him a brilliant ride. He has no turn of foot but she knows him well and was always in the right place," enthused the trainer.
Karinga Dancer set up a training double for Laura Thomas, just outstaying Rusty Nail in a competitive 12-runner Novice Riders' event. The Barbury Castle handler took the mount herself to record her fifth win in the saddle, following up their win in a similar event together last month. "He was not so keen today and more confident with his jumping this time," reported Laura.
Odds on favourite Premier Portrait met with a rare defeat in the Men's Open. This prolific winner could never get in a blow, finishing a modest third behind Full Trottle and Little Cornham. "He gave me no sort of feel today," said his dejected teenage partner Gus Levinson. In contrast Full Trottle galloped on strongly under Johnny Bailey to complete the Thomas stable double. "He hung left a bit so we travelled wide but he was going so well down the back," said the rider, whose mount mastered Little Cornham after jumping the last.
The Roy Smith owned and trained Come On Joey started 6-4 favourite but gave his backers a real fright before winning his section of the Open Maiden. After a patient ride, Vicky Wade had sent the six-year-old clear up the final hill, but her mount hit the rails nearing the judge. "I was taking a pull early and he got into a rhythm, but he is green and just swerved sharply left near the finish," explained the rider who did well to keep her mount on the track.