A massive crowd enjoyed the warm sunshine and competitive point-to-point racing hosted by the Modbury Harriers in the idyllic setting of Flete Park.
A small but select field of three faced the starter for the featured 4 miles Ladies’ Open, which became a real cat and mouse game between these highly rated pointers. Only a couple of lengths covered the trio until Lucy Gardner dashed Grey Ciseaux into the lead with four to jump. As long time leader Frontenac (Polly Gundry) gave way, Double Honour took up the challenge and it was this battle hardened grey who saw out the trip the best, staying on strongly in the hands of 20 year old Katherine Hobbs to take the prize. “I was told to stay out of trouble so went round the outside”, said the young rider, who did little wrong against her two experienced opponents. Double Honour, owned by Sarah Hobbs and trained by Marie McGuinness at Spaxton, Somerset, was giving Katherine her 5 th winner of the season.
The Men’s Open nearly produced a shock result when odds on favourite Jalons Star began to idle on the run in with the race seemingly in the bag. Fortunately his owner / rider Ben Robarts knows the Nikki Frost trained gelding very well, and refused to panic when his 8 lengths lead at the last was whittled down by runner up Diamond Monroe with every stride, as Jalons Star decided to pull himself up before the winning post. “It was my fault because I sent him clear too early and he thought he had done enough”, said the jockey afterwards.
Will Biddick’s late surge on Diamond Monroe just failed, but he landed Riteway Round home in the Restricted. Dutch Bill (Tessa Hayes) set out to make the running, but was being strongly pressed by Howdy Cloud when the latter fell four from home, giving Nick Scholfield a nasty spill. Although left clear, Dutch Bill began to tire rapidly from the top of the hill, and had no more to give as Riteway Round swept past at the penultimate. This home bred mare is owned and trained by Deborah Treneer. “She is really tough and has done at least 20 days hunting on the moor this season” said Deborah.
Will White took the day’s riding honours with a double for the Gordon Chambers yard. On Their Toes initiated the double when proving too strong for Mendip Dane in the 2m 4f Open Maiden. Running for only the third time, the 6 year old is owned by Tim and Sue Winzer, together with Bob Robinson and Norman Rooke. On Their Toes was bred by Gordon Chambers, who described her as “a nice mare for the future as she is still very green”.
Sara Monica completed the stable double in the Confined, being left well clear when odds on favourite Toi Express fell at the second last when disputing the lead. The latter was ridden by Polly Gundry in place of Nick Scholfield, who was temporarily sidelined with a wrist injury after his earlier fall, but was reported to be okay later. Sara Monica was bought for owners Jackie and Norman Elliott out of Len Lungo’s yard last May, as a replacement for their useful pointer Mystic Warrior. 24 year old Will White, who was partnering his 8 th winner of the season, now looks after the in-foal mares and helps with the foaling at the Sandley Stud at Gillingham, Dorset.
Once again, the copious amount of watering at Flete Park provided a good racing surface – “quite soft and dead in places” according to several jockeys. 5 year old Murphys Man certainly relished the conditions in the 3 miles Open Maiden, staying on nicely to beat Final Deal and Fine Enough after these three had drawn clear of their seven rivals on the final circuit. The winner was bought in Ireland last year, and was broken and schooled by his rider Tim Dennis for owners Ken and John Heard.