A MARATHON 11 races made up the card at the East Devon meeting at Ottery St Mary where Southwestern proved he is back on top form and primed for a tilt at the Christie Foxhunters at the Cheltenham Festival in just over a week’s time after his win in the Volkswagen Touareg Men’s Open Rae.
The nine-year-old had disappointed when pulling up at Larkhill, but was subsequently found to have suffered pulled muscles, With a team of people working hard to get the gelding right, including jockey Neil Harris’s wife Kerry who trained with renowned physiotherapist Mary Bromiley, he looked as good as ever.
Fourteen had gone to post and Harris held the gelding up in the rear of the field, surviving a blunder at the second fence. But with confidence soon restored, a superb round of jumping ensued and by the final circuit, Harris had made steady progress through the field and five from home was disputing the lead. Three out he was in command and won easier than the 12 length margin suggests from Nditlir who ran a blinder to finish second under Ian Chanin.
Trainer Camilla Scott said: “That’s a relief and he should be just right for Cheltenham now.”
Chanin had earlier cruised home to an easy win in the members’ race on McSolo before doubling up on Braeroy in the second restricted. It was the second win of the day enjoyed by owner Bill Dupont who bought the seven-year-old from trainer Louise Alner’s father Robert.
Earlier Brown Cockle, trained by Richard Barber, had won the four-runner ladies’ under a strong ride from Rachael Green who got up to score by three quarters of a length from Perouse on the run-in.
Dupont said: “My sport is point-to-pointing and I get all the interest having horses in two different yards.”
Barber was also responsible for saddling the day’s most impressive winner, Niver Bai who won the first restricted in good style under owners Diane and Philip Ralph’s son Alistair.
The 18-year-old works for champion trainer Paul Nicholls and was winning for the second time this season on the odds-on favourite. “I rode him around the outside looking for better ground,” said Ralph.
The open maiden for five, six and seven year olds was split three ways with Nigel and Judith Legg’s Harry’s Lane taking the first division after he was left in front following the penultimate fence fall of Master Mark. There was double cause for celebration for the Legg family after the win with their 18-year-old son Michael riding his first ever winner on the seven-year-old, an Ascot Sales purchase last October.
Charlotte Tizzard had ridden 13 seconds this season but finally scored her first win of this campaign on Thursday with the hunter chase success win of Redbrook Lad and was back in the winners’ enclosure following Coombe Hill’s win in the second maiden, also her first as a trainer having taken over from her father Alan.
Bought unnamed from Ascot Sales two seasons ago, he is named after one of the family farms and was also Tizzard’s first winner as a trainer having taken over from her father Alan.
The third division went to the Patrick Bryant trained Kings Bitter, with James Tudor on board. From the well know April Queen family, the six-year-old is owned by the Cafepolo Partnership, a syndicate of four enthusiasts and was winning on his racecourse debut.
Bryant, who trains in the Mendip above Cheddar Gorge, doubled up with his own Off Broadway in a competitive intermediate and said the plan was to go to the final at Exeter Racecourse on May 14.
The open maiden for eight-year-olds and over was split on the day with Amber Dawn winning the faster of the two divisions. Jockey Tigger Barnes, scoring his second win of the season, said: “She’s been there and there abouts and would have to have won a maiden because she jumps so well.”
The other division went to Tim Whitley’s Top View, Louise Alner’s second success of the day. He was riddenb y Irishman Jimmy Derham who has been based with the Alners since October and had ridden four winners previously in Ireland.
Members: McSolo (Mr I Chanin) 1; Paddy Johno (Mr M Milne) 2; First Thought (Mr R Darke) 3.Time: 6 minutes 35 seconds; Distances 25 lengths, 6 lengths.
Open Maiden for 5, 6 & 7 yr olds Div 1: Harry’s Lane (Mr M Legg) 1; Ryman (Mr D Cook) 2; Lord Brooklyn (Mr N Green) 3. 10l, 15l; 6.41.
Open Maiden for 5, 6 & 7 yr olds Div 2: Coombe Hill (Miss C Tizzard) 1; Express Leader (Miss R Green) 2; Midnight Queen (Mr j Tudor) 3. 1 1/2l, 20l; 6.35.
Open Maiden for 5, 6 & 7 yr olds Div 3: Kings Bitter (Mr J Tudor) 1; Sir Oscar (Mr N Harris) 2; Carrie On (Miss R Green) 3. 2 1/2l, 10l; 6.27.
The Volkswagen Touareg Men’s Open: Southwestern (Mr N Harris) 1; Nditlir (Mr I Chanin) 2; The Quarry man (Mr R Woollacott) 3. 12l, 1/2l; 6.27.
The Exeter Racecourse Intermediate: Off Broadway (Mr J Tudor); Slaezy (Mr I Chanin) 2; Ballybrown (Mr R Darke) 3. 3/4l, 25l; 6.25.
Ladies’ Open: Brown Cockle (Miss R Green) 1; Perouse (Miss C Roddick) 2; El Hiombre Rio (Miss C Tizzard) 3. 3/4l, 6l; 6.29.
Restricted Division 1: Niver Bai (Mr A Ralph) 1; So Long (Mr N Harris) 2; Winning Connection (Mr W Biddick) 3. 7l, 3l; 6.43.
Restricted Division 2: Braeroy (Mr I Chanin) 1; Silver Monarch (Mr R Bliss) 2; Murphy’s Man (Miss C Allen) 3. 2l, dist; 6.34.
Eight-year-old and over Maiden Div 1:Top View (Mr J Derham) 1; What A Moose (Mr I Chanin) 2; Mined (Mr R Woollacott) 3. 4l, 15l; 6.48.
Eight-year-old and over Maiden Div 2: Amber Dawn (Mr J Barnes) 1; See Me There (Miss C Tizzard) 2; Mr Woodrow (Miss L Gardner) 3. 4l, 5l; 6.45.