|The best race meeting in the area so
far this season took place at Buckfastleigh, where the crowds
turned out to watch some top class horses do battle. With great
weather and decent jumping ground, the stage was set
and Valentines Day spectators were not to be disappointed. Every race was run true from the start and every horse placed at the meeting should go on to further successes this season.
The men's open went to the Jeremy
Scott trained Right To Reply, a horse which had been hugely
impressive before unseating his rider at Larkhill last time out.
This time there were no mistakes and Neil Harris dominated the
Paul Nicholls' Ask the Native ridden by his trainer Chloe Roddick, complelely outclassed his rivals in the ladies' open - but then, this time last year the horse was being prepared for the Cheltenham festival! Polly Gundry forced Ledbury visitor Balinova up to take second on the line from Kestick and Tabitha Cave.
Gundry had looked like being second in the opening Intermediate on Gerald Tanner's Vercheny, but was caught by Caroline Prouse on Father Mansfield who took second behind easy winner Leon Garcia (T Bishop).
Ashley Farrant had the first of two winners in the first division of the maiden on David Johnson's Vivid Imagination. One of the other fancied horses, Bally Blue (Leslie Jefford), parked himself at the start but ran well to make up at least a fence deficit to finish third behind Albamart Wood (James Young).
A Pipe/ Farrant/Johnson double in the second division with Think Commercial was thwarted by Tim Dennis on Coombe Quest who won at 25-1, but was aided by the last fence blunder of the Heard family's Josanjamic, which decanted Liam Heard within sight of the winning post.
The Heard's must have felt that fate was against them as Bill Me Up got left at the start in the Confined and had to make up a fence and a half on the field before finishing a brave second to Roger Oliver's Ronan's Choice (Richard Darke). Trained by Roger's daughter, Emma, Ronan's Choice is hampered by his flat feet and proves difficult to keep sound. He was having his first run after 18 months with the family.
The Restricted was the only race to be divided on the day. Division One went to Richard Hawker on Sootsir in a blanket finish - the rider making his second trip to the course from the Beaufort.
The second division made up the double for David Pipe and Ashley Farrant when odds on favourite Oneminutetofive got home ahead of Mister Swallow (Michael Miller).
Maiden Div One: 1. Vivid Imagination, A Farrant evens; 2, Albamart Wood, J Young; 3, Bally Blue, L Jefford. 14 ran, 10l, 8l, 6.12.
Division Two: 1, Coombe Quest, T Dennis 25-1; 2, Think Commercial, A Farrant; 3, Orinoco's Flight, M Holmes. 14 ran, 20l, 4l, 6.20.
Men's open: 1, Right To Reply, N Harris 4-5; 2, Monty's Lass, A Charles Jones; 3, Colquhoun, A Farrant. 13 ran, 5l, 2l, 6.05.
Restricted Division One: 1. Sootsir, R Hawker 14-1; 2, Mrs Peggoty, D Edwards; 3, Drumhorc, Miss L Gardner. 10 ran, shd, shd, 6.19.
Division Two: 1, Oneminutetofive, A Farrant 4-7; 2, Mister Swallow, M Miller; 3, Sea Snipe, Miss T Cave. Nine ran, 25l, 1l, 6.12.
Ladies' open: 1, Ask the Native, Miss C Roddick 8-11; 2, Balinova, Miss P Gundry; 3, Kestick, Miss T Cave. 10 ran, 15l, shd, 6.04.
Confined: 1, Ronan's Choice , R Darke 14-1; 2, Bill Me Up, C Heard; 3, Province, R Woolacott. 13 ran, 7l, 6l, 6.15.