DARREN EDWARDS is setting a hot pace for this season's Devon & Cornwall jockeys' championship, and his double at the Western meeting kept him well ahead of John Mathias with last year's title holder Robbie Henderson lurking just behind Mathias.
The showground was blessed with ample sunshine but the going was quite tacky as Edwards struck with Supreme Danehill in the Exeter Intermediate qualifier This seven-year-old Edwards family horse put a poor run at Larkhill behind him, staying on well to beat the favourite Little Cornham. "He would be happier on better ground and the Exeter (hunter chase) final should suit him well," explained Darren's father Gordon, who trains the ex-Irish gelding at Wheddon Cross.
The first three home in the Restricted had all scored last time out so the form of the winner According To Harry looks solid. Edwards sent this Old Vic gelding to the front four out, and shook off the challenge of previous course winner Le Clo De La Londe up the final climb.
Will Biddick escaped unhurt from an early fall in this race, but had earlier won a section of the Open Maiden when the mare Racey Lacey, trained by Pauline Geering, made all the running. Jo Metherall runs the nine strong owners partnership called The Racey Club (not too racey I hope). The eight-year-old mare, bred by Jethro, was runner up over hurdles at Taunton nearly four years ago but had two years off until running for her new connections at Wadebridge last month. "I got her at Jethro's dispersal of tack sale, she was the only horse in the sale," smiled Jo Metherall.
The other Maiden division provided a first ever success on her seventh ride for 17-year-old jockey Olivia Hutchings on her own gelding Lucius Fabeo. "I work full time for Jackie du Plessis at Saltash now and first started riding out there when I was 12. I have completed the jockeys' course at Newmarket and have done Pony club and pony racing in the past. Olivia certainly had to be at her best here to fend off the challenge of Jo Buck on Only Gorgeous.
Beuvron and Hannah Welch led all the way to beat sole opponent Iron Chancellor in the Ladies' Open. Five-year-old Beuvron, now owned by Charles Stanley, was sourced in France by agent Toby Jones after winning over hurdles and fences. "He is very weak still and will be aimed at novice riders' races now," confirmed trainer Sam Holdsworth.
Working Title was seeking a seasonal hat trick at the showground, but despite starting a shade of odds-on, met his match in Before The War. Robbie Henderson was content to bide his time on the winner before driving Stuart Jarrett's eight-year-old ahead after jumping the last. "This is my first winner of the season and it was a bit of a surprise. I thought he just needed the race," said relieved trainer Ed Walker.
Sweet My Lord justified his hot favourite status under Tom Chanin in the Confined. "He was never quite travelling on the tacky ground but got there on his class," reflected trainer Robert Chanin.