An April day containing a mixture of sunshine, showers with some hail added and a rainbow were all part of the afternoon at the Cotley meeting when Will Biddick and Jack Barber teamed up for a treble and Sacre Toi was an impressive winner of the Mixed Open race for owner/trainer Fiona Read.
The Hunt race was won in a very easy manner by Steeltown ridden by Jamie Thomas and was another victory for John and Floss Symes who have been dominant in this race for many years. Setting off in front Steeltown was never in any danger and won by a distance from his only rival Lajidaal. The winner is likely to be going to Vauterhill for his next race.
The Countryside Alliance Club Members Conditions race was won in an equally emphatic way when Kernel Victor ridden by Josh Newman beat his six rivals by six lengths. Taking it up at the twelfth fence he was in command at the second last and comfortably held off the challenge of Commanche Conflict. Owned by Evelyn Targett and her late husband Ray and trained by Ed Walker the Old Vic gelding may next be heading to Cheltenham to contest the Intermediate Final at the end of the month.
San Satiro was the first leg of Will and Jack's treble when he won the young horse Maiden race over two-and-a-half miles. Owned by Paul Nicholls and Colm Donlon the five year old Milan gelding was stepping up on his only previous appearance last season when he unseated his rider at Stafford Cross. Will reported that 'he has grown up both mentally and physically and has got it all there' and added that 'he should be better over the full trip of three miles'. Jumping to the front at the third last he had a duel with Murifield before asserting from the last fence.
Sacre Toi was a comfortable winner of the Mixed Open race on his debut in English Point-to-Points. Previously trained in France where he won three hurdle race and a steeplechase in 2015 at courses as diverse as Pompadour, Dax, Clairefontaine and Fontainebleau when owned by Anna Bramall he is now owned by Fiona Read from Wincanton who acquired him privately from the sister of a friend. Fiona who had previously had a success this season with Bruton reported that he had had an injury so that Sacre Toi's victory was a real boost for her small stable. Fiona who only had her second child three weeks ago was quick to pay credit to jockey James King who has been riding out when he could and had kept the gelding going whilst she was unable to ride. James who has now left Paul Nicholls will be riding out for other trainers whilst considering his options.
Get on the Yager was another easy winner for Will Biddick and Jack Barber. Following up on his debut win at Cothelstone Will took it up at the fifth fence and was never headed. His main rival It's a Mistake who had travelled from Wales tried to make a race of it but was beaten 10 lengths at the finishing post. Owned by Jack's Racing Club this Tamure gelding continues to be on the upgrade and looks an exciting prospect.
The final race, the Open Maiden, brought up Will and Jack's treble when Dunn's River beat Fountains Cider after a battle over the last three fences. Owned by the Axe Valley Racing Club the winner had been bought by Richard Barber in October 2014 out of Jamie Osborne's stable, after finishing third in a flat race at Chepstow.
Recording their first winner this season for the Club connections advised that their flagship horse Barney's Mate has been retired at the age of 16. The winner of 18 Point-to-Points and 3 hurdle race he built up a great relationship with Rachael Green before becoming a legend by giving a succession of novice riders their first winners when he was trained at Seaborough by Richard Barber. A long and happy retirement hopefully awaits him and he will be much missed on the Wessex Point-to-Point scene.