Over six months of our season behind us and only one week to go. Summer jumping in June and fast ground prevails. The aggravator was used to good effect to provide a better cushion at Bratton Down, but nature is hard to beat.
Bay Central put up a sparkling performance to win the Ladies' Open unchallenged in a fast time. The Welsh gelding was sent to the front immediately by jockey Jodie Hughes, and soon established a clear lead over his five rivals. Relishing the fast ground, Bay Central coasted 25 lengths ahead by the final ditch, and stayed on resolutely up the final climb to win with nobody else in sight.
A winner in his younger days of a Galway bumper under Nina Carberry, this good looking son of Exit to Nowhere was subsequently successful four times over fences for Evan Williams before being bought privately by his current owner/trainer Natasha Woodington. "He won a couple of point-to-points for us but then had two years off until he ran at Pyle a month ago," reported the owner. This time the two and a half hours trip from Cwmbran paid off. Jockey Jodie Hughes, partnering her fifth winner of the season knows her mount well. "He can be quirky and we walked him all the way to the start. He once took off with me in Wales and did four laps of the track," laughed this very competent Welsh jockey.
Bay Central looks a picture at 12 years of age, and the Men's Open winner Presentandcorrect is even older. He looked a credit to his connections at a sprightly 15. Gershwinner and Merv Woodward set a brisk early pace, but Presentandcorrect jumped ahead six fences from home and never looked like being caught. This was another sub-six minutes race with the winner making the most of the fast conditions. A tall, imposing gelding by Presenting, Presentandcorrect was taking his point-to-point winning tally into double figures, and the sprightly veteran also has six successes under rules to his name since opening his account at Fontwell nine years ago. 20-year-old James King had the mount for Dursley, Gloucestershire owner/trainer Tim Sage, who looks devoted to his charge.
Local area title holder Darren Edwards and Will Biddick are virtually neck and neck for the Devon & Cornwall jockeys' award this year. They each had only one ride with Edwards coming out on top thanks to Brandy and Red, who just outstayed Biddick's mount The Mystro in the Restricted. A well backed favourite, and yet another Presenting gelding, Brandy and Red was following up his Four Burrow win for Newton Ferrers owner/trainer David Rogers. Will Biddick has his fifth successive National Jockeys' Championship in the bag and goes into the final meeting of the season with a two point lead for the area title.
The Open Maiden produced the biggest field of the day and a second career victory in the saddle for 21-year-old Zoe Hawkins. Martin McIntyre sent his mount Brannoc into a clear lead at the final ditch, but Stay Tuned kept on determinedly to take the lead breasting the rise before holding the late challenge of Chambray Dancer. The winner was bought privately out of Alex Dunn's yard by owner Nick Harvey, and was a first training success for Honiton based Zoe Hawkins. "I rode my first winner two years ago on a horse I owned called Baren de Doc at Upper Sapey. I was with the Ed Walker yard then and Polly Gundry (Walker) taught me a lot. I have also worked for Lisa Jefford," said the jubilant young rider/trainer.
The remainder of the card upheld the "horses for course" theory. Uber Alles (Rob Hawker) had beaten a subsequent winner at the Dulverton West three weeks ago and drew away from odds-on Whenharrymetsally from the second last to win the Members' very easily
Tempestatefloresco had won the Dulverton West Restricted on firm ground at that same meeting and followed up successfully at the expense of Fourstar River in the Intermediate under Leanda Tickle.