THE ultra-consistent Double Bank was an impressive winner of the Men's Open in the hands of Mervyn Woodward as the ground turned sticky and testing at Black Forest Lodge.
Time For Spring kept tabs on the winner until four out, but Double Bank galloped on relentlessly to score unchallenged by 25 lengths for owner Jonathan Cole. . "I was a bit concerned to bring him back so soon after his Taunton race but he loves this course," said Double Bank's Teign Valley trainer Emma Oliver who intimated that his next outing would be a Wincanton hunter chase. "This is the seventh time I have won on him," reported his beaming jockey.
Beuvron took the eight runner Ladies' Open in good style in the colours of Charles Stanley. Already successful over jumps at Paray-Le-Monial, Aix-Les-Bains and Dax over jumps in France, this five-year-old had run promisingly when not fully wound up on his recent British debut at Wadebridge behind the prolific Byerley Bear (an absentee here).
Beuvron headed course winner Iron Chancellor (Gina Andrews) at the third last and soon pulled clear to score by 20 lengths. "We got him out of a claimer for about £14,000 in France. He is a half brother to Grandouet and is a lovely simple horse to train," said trainer Sam Holdsworth. 17-year-old Hannah Welch, a sixth form pupil at King's College Taunton, was partnering the second point-to-point winner of her career. Hannah was one of our most successful pony race riders in the area from an early age.
Sue Popham saddled runner up Iron Chancellor in the Ladies' race, and had earlier occupied the same berth when Swansbrook was short headed by Whenharrymetsally in the Confined. Bishops Nympton trainer Keith Cumings handles the progressive Kings Theatre mare for owners Andrew and Hannah Broggio. "Whenharrymetsally is only just 16 hands and was a bit bruised when slipping up at Wadebridge. There might be a hunter chase for her in due course," commented the trainer.
The Newman family based at Woolminstone near Crewkerne enjoyed a successful afternoon with Chloe Newman sending out two winners from her yard. Her nephew Josh Newman rode Sea Bear to win one of the Maiden divisions, and Josh's girl friend Taylor Pook steered Tolatetobeearly to success in the first Subaru Restricted qualifier in the area. Subaru are to be welcomed as one of the newest National sponsors of a series of Restricted races culminating in a final at Stratford.
Tolatetobeearly was bought for only £3,200 at Ascot sales last June and is owned jointly by his jockey and Nick Taylor. "He is a big barrel of a horse and has taken two races to get fit. He could go to Wadebridge next for a qualifier for the Exeter Intermediate final," said Nick.
Sea Bear was sent to the front by Josh Newman jumping the fourth last and went on to complete the stable double in the colours of Robert and Janet Gibbs in the concluding Maiden. "Tom Malone bought him in Ireland. He was very skinny when he came but had a really good summer," commented the trainer. Josh, formerly attached to the Alan King stable, has a Cheltenham festival winner to his credit and now rides out together with Taylor for Jack Barber's point-to-point yard at Henley near Crewkerne.
Way Before Dawn has been knocking at the door for two seasons and finally came good in the first section of the Maiden. The eight-year-old drew right away from the nine-strong field in the closing stages under Leanda Tickle, whose mother Sarah owns and trains the gelding at Woolhanger near Linton. "He was bought as a two-year-old and he is the only horse I train on my own on the edge of Exmoor," said Sarah.
The Intermediate provided the most drama of a bitterly cold afternoon. Well fancied Third Chance ran out when travelling well entering the final mile, and 20-1 outsider Horatio Caine looked a certain winner until unseating Cordelia Chugg when four lengths ahead at the last. This was not the end of the story however, since Gale Force Lucey, left in front at the last and seeking her hat trick, veered sharply left inside the final 100 yards allowing the fast finishing Tiger Rag (Bradley Gibbs) to steal the race inside the last 75 yards.