The anticipated fall-out from Storm Katie turned the ground at Cothelstone to a tacky good to soft for the second meeting at the course hosted by jointly the Taunton Vale Harriers and Foxhounds. Moved from its regular venue down the road at Fennington, the course had been put back into shape by joint Clerks of the Course Ces Mitford-Slade and Alan Walter and it was the former who kicked off proceedings in the Hunt Members with a popular winner in the form of Imperial Circus. This very consistent gelding was getting a much deserved confidence boost after several good runs this season and although Fountains Cider tried to make a race of it from the open ditch, the odds-on favourite ran on well to win by five lengths under Nick Lawton. Owned by The Clown Club, the plan is to keep him to pointing, with a return to Flete Park looking likely.
Nick Lawton was back in the winner's enclosure again later in the day aboard Alright John for Janet Ackner. In a three-runner affair for the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate, Lawton brought the outsider of the field with a well-timed run to surprise a tiring odds-on favourite in Applesolutely. It was a welcome result for the Ackner stable after a sad time at Kilworthy.
Nine went to post for the Mixed Open sponsored by Mitchell's Accountants and saw the consistent Steeltown rewarded with a 16 length win under Jamie Thomas. Looking superb in the paddock, this former 135 rated Irish chaser, relished the uncontested lead on the sticky ground and with favourite The Wealerdealer making several mistakes, he ran out a comfortable winner to the delight of connections. He is also credited with being the only horse in the Woollacott yard considered safe enough to be the trainer's ride while pregnant!
A similar sized field went to post for the Jackson Stops 2½ mile Maiden and three came to the last with a fighting chance. At the winning post it was 14-1 shot Wild Murphy who just held a fast finishing Ruby Fool with Wy Worry a close 3rd. The winner, a lovely five-year-old by Winged Love, had always shown plenty at home according to trainer, Ian Chanin. Chanin drafted in brother Tom to school the horse after injuring his shoulder, but decided to stay loyal to booked jockey Lee Drowne, even after Tom became available after the loss of Trebudannon. Chanin thought the horse may go for a point-to-point bumper and clearly holds the horse in high regard.
The Ken Coles Conditions Race went to Kernel Victor, who put the race to bed a long way out, recording an 18 length victory under Josh Newman. Trainer, Ed Walker explained he had had a hard race last time out, so this would be a boost for the horse. There was a possibility he may go for a race next weekend, with one of the Intermediate finals at Cheltenham or Exeter being a goal. It was a welcome tonic for part-owner Evelyn Targett, who had lost her husband recently.
Crackacan was a popular winner of the Savills Restricted Race under Darren Edwards for trainer Julie Pocock. A neck second here on his seasonal debut, Crackacan held off a strong challenge from even money favourite, Creative Inerta. Darren Edwards felt he got lonely in front and was looking about a bit after he took up the running at the open ditch. Askers Lad was 15 lengths back in 3rd.
The final race for all aged Maidens saw 10 runners and was sponsored by Fennington Fibres. Looking Glass was made favourite on the strength of her recent form, despite fluffing her lines the last twice. However, this daughter of Westerner shows no signs of doing so and ran out a comfortable five length winner from Morpet and Village Whispers under Michael Legg for trainer Ben Clarke. Clarke explained that she was slightly quirky but had loads of ability and he was delighted to get a win on the board with her. He had decided to leave off the cheek pieces she had formerly worn so she wasn't so keen and coupled with front running tactics, the mare rewarded his decision.
Despite the weather warnings, a healthy crowd supported the meeting, which kicked off with three pony races. Freddie Gingell riding Wee Anthony took the first division of the 138cms, while Elena Nikou and Dutchess claimed the second. Ben Godfrey, who is sponsored by Race Tech, took the race for the larger ponies riding Calypso.
Hunts Members (4 ran)
1 Imperial Circus 1/2 N Lawton; 2 Fountains Cider 5/2 M McIntyre; only two finished. 6mins 54s. 5l. (Richard Mitford-Slade)
Open Maiden 45&6yo 2m4f (9 ran)
1 Wild Murphy 14/1 L Drowne; 2 Ruby Fool 7/2 S Houlihan; 3 Wy Worry 10/1 Rex Dingle. 5mins 54s. Nk, 1½l. (Ian Chanin)
WAPP Club Members (4 ran)
1 Kernel Victor 1/3 J Newman; 2 Bathwick Scanno 100/30 M McIntyre; 3 Tres Bien 8/1 Miss N Dickenson. 6mins 59s. 18l, 15l. (Ed Walker)
Intermediate (3 ran)
1 Alright John 4/1 N Lawton; 2 Applesolutely 4/6 S Houlihan; 3 Paddycards 5/4 M McIntyre. 6mins 55s. 1l, 9l. (Janet Ackner)
Mixed Open (9 ran)
1 Steeltown 5/2 Jamie Thomas; 2 The Wealerdealer 2/1 M Legg; 3 Louis Pasteur 7/1 R Withey. 6mins 48s. 16l, 5l. (Kayley Woollacott)
Restricted (7 ran)
1 Crackacan 6/4 D Edwards; 2 Creative Inertia evens Ben Clarke; 3 Askers Lad 8/1 M Legg. 7mins 03s. Nk, 15l. (Julie Pocock)
Open Maiden (10 ran)
1 Looking Glass 5/4 M Legg; 2 Morpet 12/1 Robert Hawker; 3 Village Whispers 14/1 Miss C Emsley. 7mins 12s. 5l, 10l. (Ben Clarke)