Foynes Island opened his UK pointing account in Ston Easton's Mens Open. Prominently ridden by Harry Cobden, the nine-year-old led at the last after leader Fiulin surrendered his advantage by jumping to his left. Foynes Island, who was bought out of Philip Hobbs' stable for £12,000 at Cheltenham in May 2011, had been placed in four of his eight previous races between the flags. "I'm delighted for the horse, as he's been knocking on the door all that time," smiled Spaxton-based Louise Cabble, who trains Foynes Island for her partner, Tony Fear. "He missed the whole of 2013 with a splint, had an abscess in his foot after finishing second at Cothelstone in May, finished third in Buckfastleigh's Westcountry Champion Chase and fell when challenging last time out at Charlton Horethorne. He deserved to get his head in front."
The win took Harry onto the six-winner mark, two ahead of his nearest rival in the National Novice Riders table. "The Fears and Cobdens are family friends and Tony was keen for Harry to partner his horses," said Louise. "He's a class jockey and his style suits Foynes Island perfectly. The horse stays, jumps and travels and has already won an Exeter handicap chase. Hunter chasing would give us options in terms of distance, going and type of track, so that may be the way to go."
Cranmore trainer Sarah Gould achieved her first training double at her local track. Confined winner Special Occasion and Third Chance (Ladies Open) provided Sarah's two successes. The former, the mount of Sarah's 19-year-old sister, Lucy, just held Harry Cobden's late challenge aboard Roseyroo, with Maxi Chop close up in third. Special Occasion has now won six point-to-points – all on right-handed tracks – but had tailed himself off in several of his outings since his last success two years ago. "He fell out of love with the sport so we concentrated on rekindling his interest," said Sarah. "He hunts twice a week and we regularly walk him around the Deverills. He enjoys exercising on natural grass gallops on Salisbury Plain and acts as schoolmaster for my maidens over the schooling fences."
Sarah took the reins herself aboard Third Chance, who was left in front when pacesetter The Donserelli jinked and ejected Laura Scott entering the straight. "Lucy and I both rode winners at this meeting two years ago but my winner, Little George, was for John Hankinson," recalled Sarah. Exeter's Racecourse Intermediate Series Final on 5 May is on the cards.
Will Biddick was in double form aboard Just Imagine It and Im All Set. The former, trained by Jack Barber, quickened past Southfield Fairy approaching the last in the 2m-4f Maiden. Im All Set completed a weekend double for Devon trainer Claire Hitch after Minella Fifty's Milborne St Andrew success. "He came via my usual Irish source and is jointly owned by Bratton Down clerk of the course Phil Rawle, farrier Keith Parkin and me," said Claire. "The colours are based on Priscilla Boundy's red and white hooped silks which were passed on to Phil when she died two years ago, Keith's sleeves and my cap.
The Philip Thomas-partnered General Girling, who beat Just Imagine It at Chipley Park, followed up by getting the better of another Barber/Biddick favourite, Earthpower, in the Restricted.
The two concluding pony races were won by Angelic, ridden by Olive Nicholls, 9, and Stambrook Socialite under Conor Baker, 14.