Dart Vale and Haldon
Bishy Barnaby lands the champion chase
BISHY Barnaby faced his first real test in open company, having won his previous four starts in impressive style, and the nine-year-old duly delivered in the Westcountry Champion Chase at Buckfastleigh providing Richard Woollacott with the first leg of a double.
The ground rode much faster than on his previous outings but he jumped spectacularly joining leader Dutch Bill over the last and was then pushed out for a length and a half victory.
Winning trainer Gordon Chambers said: “He had to do something today. He didn’t like the ground at all so Richard looked after him down the back straight but once he asked him after the last he picked up and flew. We’ll probably go hunter chasing with him now.”
Woollacott doubled up on the progressive Henri Prends Garde in the Connollys Redmills Intermediate Race who now remains unbeaten in his last three runs. John Gardner, who owns the Woollacott-trained seven-year-old in partnership with John Burrows, said: “We can’t believe he keeps winning but he does it on his jumping and he seems to go on any ground. We’d like to go for the final at Cheltenham but we will leave that up to his trainer.”
Polly Gundry rode a double, the first leg of which had owners Ken and Daf Edwards in tears after Hameldown Tor win the first division of the open maiden. “We’ve been trying 35 years to win a race. We’ve ha eight horses and plenty of places but we’ve never had a winner and this has brought a tear to our eyes,” said Ken Edwards who was also stewarding at the meeting.
The six-year-old is a granddaughter of Dubacilla who was placed second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and was bred by Henry Cole. “We bought him as a just broken five-year-old at Easter 2009 and Polly trains him for us.”
Polly also took the second division on Lord Rasperry who was Rainer and Glennie Braune’s first point winner too, although they have enjoyed many successes under Rules. “Polly trains him for us too and she kept telling us he would win a race. Our son Lee has been hunting him with the Axe Vale and I think we’ve been bitten by the bug now.”
Thoor Ballylee has had an 11 month break following an injury but that didn’t stop the Mike Vanstone-trained eight-year-old winning the confined race having joined long time leader Keep’nitreal and running on to score a two length success under Josh Guerriero.
Wining owner Kit James said: “He loves it here and this is the third time he has won at the track. He’s cost me over £2000 in vet bills after he damaged a suspensory ligament and we’d have been happy today if he’d just got home safely.”
Alpha Native, wearing Peter Clarke’s well known purple and black colours, followed up his February course win with a game success in the restricted, locking horns with Il Marinaio on the run in and getting up for a neck verdict.
The opening members’ race went to Resplendent Star who was repeating his success of last year with 19-year-old Ian Hargreaves on board, a student at the Royal Agricultural College who was riding the winner for his parents.