WILL BIDDICK is marching on towards his half century for the season in his quest for a fourth consecutive National jockeys' title, and put three more winners in the bag at the Axe Vale meeting. Considering the recent dry spell, the organisers produced remarkably good ground thanks to extensive watering.
Subtle Sovereign was untroubled under the champion's guidance in beating his two opponents to in win his first Open, easing clear in the home straight. "This was his eighth win in his last nine runs. We will probably wait another year before going hunter chasing," said Jeremy Barber, whose son Jack was saddling his 38th winner of the season.
The progressive Whataknight soon made it 39 for the Dorset trainer, drawing right away from his rivals at the second last to win the Intermediate, "He is an out and out galloper and just keeps going," commented Jack, who trains the six-year-old for owners Terry Hamlin, Martin Dare and John Snook.
The Barber/Biddick treble was completed when five-year-old Royalzaro beat 12 opponents to win the Restricted. "He was a cheap buy in France and is going the right way," reported the young trainer.
Kostaquarta almost made if four winners for the yard but came off second best after a protracted battle with Fiulin in the Confined. Now with Ed Walker, the winner is owned by the Carstairs Clan which consists of Guy and Alex Carstairs and their young children Zak, Oliver and Euan. "He was losing ground over his fences in a hunter chase at Newton Abbot the other day and we will stick to pointing for a while now," said the trainer. Fiulin has a remarkable CV. By Galileo, he fetched 280,000 guineas as a four-year-old. AP McCoy couldn't win on him, but apart from his pointing wins for previous owner Ross Oliver, the sturdy 10-year-old has won on the flat and over hurdles, and competed at the Cheltenham festival and Royal Ascot. Phew !
Fiulin's successful jockey Robbie Henderson was out of luck in the Hunt race when 1-4 favourite Hameldown Tor tumbled out of the race when caught by the flailing legs of Miss Cupcake at the 13th fence. This event went to former hurdles winner Moyne Nineoseven who was partnered by Vicky Wade for the Nineoseven Partnership. "I bought him at Ascot last October, He has a few quirks and we have waited for better ground," said trainer Sarah Pidsley who has four pointers in her yard at Payhembury near Honiton.
Silver Token was a warm favourite for the Novice Riders' race but gave Harry Cobden a nasty fall when crashing through the wing of the 14th fence. Loose Preformer (Hedley Webb) was left clear but failed to withstand the well timed challenge of Maxi Chop (James King) after jumping the last. Despite an expensive price tag, the seven-year-old did not reach the winner's enclosure for Paul Nicholls, but is proving a good novice ride and was following up his Hackwood Park win on Easter Monday. "James King and Stan Sheppard are sharing the rides and it was the turn of James today. This horse has bled before and could finish distressed, but has got his confidence back now," reported trainer Rose Loxton.
It is not always plain sailing, even for champions, and after receiving his trainer's trophy on a euphoric day at Sandown, it was down to earth, literally, the next day in a field at Stafford Cross. Four-year-old San Satiro carried the champion trainer's colours in the concluding Maiden. The raw youngster, trained by Jack Barber, only got as far as the fourth fence before virtually stopping and depositing Will Biddick on the Devon turf..
Boymann went on to win the event under Leanda Tickle. The seven-year-old was home bred by owner Paul Mann. "He was unlucky not to win last year when he threw away a race at Trebudannon. He needs good ground and is now my third winner with my last three runners," exclaimed delighted trainer Joe Tickle.