Tough going

10:43 17 April 2014

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THE going was very testing for the Eggesford meeting at Upcott Cross with race times exceeding seven minutes, writes Granville Taylor.

Lucette Annie relished the conditions in winning the four miles Devon National. This game mare was sent zooming clear of her rivals by jockey Darren Edwards on the top bend before staying on to score comfortably from the consistent Bellsinni Ron, with pace setting Double Dizzy a commendable third.

“Lucette Annie won this race two years ago and I have just kept her ticking over since her run in the Cheltenham Foxhunter last month,” reported trainer Simon Partridge, who handles the ten-year-old on behalf of owners Janet and Chris Humphrey. “We may go to the Cheltenham evening meeting or keep her for the Bratton four-miler,” added Simon.

Darren Edwards is enjoying another successful campaign with his winners into double figures, and had earlier scored on Bradley Brook in the Confined. This progressive eight-year-old was following up his recent Kilworthy win in good style, forging clear in the home straight. Trainer Nicola Martin said “Bradley Brook may go for the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate Final or the Cheltenham evening meeting. Although we bought him as a three-year-old he was seven before he matured.”

Another candidate for the Exeter Final is Driftashore (Robbie Hendwerson) who raised a few eyebrows when beating odds-on favourite Pure Oxygen (ran out of oxygen quipped rider Will Biddick). Driftashore sauntered clear down the hill to score by ten lengths in the fastest time of the day. Trained by Sally Randell near Lambourn on behalf of owner Lee Power, Driftashore was making his English pointing debut having scored twice in Ireland earlier this season. “He was bought via our Irish agent Neil O’Donnell. We came here for proper ground but the owner is abroad and he will be distraught at missing it,” laughed Sally, who rode plenty of pointing winners but now confines herself to riding in military races. The impressive seven-year-old would have been ridden by stable jockey Brodie Hampson, but she could only watch on crutches having cracked her knee in a recent fall at Newton Abbot.

My Rebel has always shaped like a stayer and sliced through the field from the top of the hill to take the 14-runner Restricted, just getting the better of Third Chance and Raffa. The winner’s trainer Becky Kennen, who shares ownership of the Milan seven-year-old with Alison Schwalm, said: “We bought him as an unraced five-year-old from Jim Culloty in Ireland and have had to be very patient with him. He has grown an inch and a half since last winter.” His win provided a late birthday present for jockey Leanda Tickle who had turned 25 two days before.

Leanda was narrowly denied a double when her mount Pyleigh Princess was pipped on the post by Harry’s Kap (Ed Barrett) in the maiden for eight-year-olds and over. Bought as a three-year-old by owner/trainer Ray Alford, nine-year-old Harry’s Kap was having only his second race. Harry’s Kap – who got his name by virtue of Ray’s father Harry wearing his ever present cap - is by the successful French stallion Kapgarde, and is a full brother to the top class French jumper Lord Prestige.

There seemed a cast of thousands for the Open Maiden for four to seven-year-olds (well 16 actually). In another close encounter 33-1 outsider It’s All Or Nothing (Michael Heard) poked his neck out in the last few strides to deny the promising Miss Gotaway. The winner was bought at Ascot sales as a three-year-old by Lamerton publican Rob White and is trained by Charlotte Rowe at Tedburn St Mary.

It was not the best of days for champion jockey Will Biddick, but his sole Hunt race win on Turtle Tim from five rides keeps him four ahead of Robbie Henderson in his bid for a third successive Men’s title. Turtle Tim is trained at Payhembury near Honiton by Sarah Pidsley for her parents Mike and Judith.

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