LUCETTE ANNIE was an impressive winner of the four miles Devon National on a busy afternoon at Upcott Cross. Jo Buck’s mount For The Staff started favourite but could not get to grips with the progressive winner who stayed on strongly under Darren Edwards in the home straight, writes Granville Taylor.

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Chris and Janet Hunphreys’ mare was scoring for the third time this season. “She could go for one of the Intermediate finals at Exeter or Cheltenham but it is ground dependent,” said her Poundsgate trainer Simon Partridge.

The card featured a total of 88 runners on this well prepared track. The10-runner Exeter Racecourse Intermediate qualifier developed into a battle between Dashing John and Gort Na Lea, with Robert Hawker forcing Gort Na Lea in front on the run-in. This winner could also line up for one of the finals. Charles Whittaker trains Gort Na Lea at Frome alongside his partner Verity Perrott, who rides the gelding out and emphasised his preference for good ground.

Kirkleigh is developing into a smart pointer and had little difficulty in scoring his fourth win of the season in the Confined Novice Riders’ contest. Michael Legg had the mount on Sue Trump’s home bred seven-year-old who stayed on strongly to hold Bathwick Breeze. “Kirkleigh is a big striding horse who wouldn’t want the ground too firm,” said trainer Robert Chanin.

The Restricted also threw up a promising type in five-year-old Indiana Bay who was scoring for the second time in eight days since coming over from Ireland. “He was really impressive,” commented Josh Guerriero, who was partnering his seventh winner of the season after a belated start due to injury. Bude trainer Jill Dennis is in great form at present and veteran owner Charlie Rush looks to have a nice prospect on his hands.

All three divisions of the Open Maiden attracted double figure fields. Will Biddick had already got on the score sheet when Alpha Native upset the odds-on favourite Googoobarabajagal in the Members’, and took his seasonal tally to 31 in the first section of the Maiden. The Richard Barber five-year-old Nitrogen was all the rage in the ring and Biddick was able to sit very quietly on the newcomer until pouncing at the second last. To her credit Hallo Dolly made a race of it, but Nitrogen was always holding the aces on the run-in. Graham Roach bought this half brother to Best Mate and Cornish Rebel as a foal and he looks to have another future star on his hands.

A maximum field of 16 lined up for the second Maiden. This time the Biddick ridden newcomer Henryville was just outstayed by Strong Saddler who was giving his jockey Jack Barber his 11th pointing success of the season. The winner is trained by Marie McGuinness for retired Bridgwater farmer Cyril Moate. He has been lightly raced since being bought out of the Philip Hobbs yard three years ago.

The concluding Maiden was decided at the final fence. Ian Chanin drove True Gem to the front after the penultimate and was left well clear when his closest pursuer Vintage Tea crashed out at the last.

RESULTS: Hunt race 1, Alpha Native (W Biddick);2, Googoobarabajagal (M Heard); 3, Lightening Jack (G Humfrey); 6 ran; 5l; 3l; 6m 38s

Intermediate: 1, Gort Na Lea (R Hawker); 2, Dashing John (Miss N Parker); 3, Mullins Mill (D Andrews); 10 ran; 2 1/2l; 12l; 6m 35s

Confined Novice Riders’ 1, Kirkleigh (M Legg); 2, Bathwick Breeze (D Summersby); 3, Clew Bay Cove (D Furnell); 11 ran; 8l; 7l; 6m 34s

Mixed Open 4 miles – The Devon National: 1, Lucette Annie (D Edwards); 2, For The Staff (Miss J Buck); 3, Meilyr (J Guerriero); 11 ran; 7l; 15l; 8m 5s

Restricted: 1, Indiana Bay (J Guerriero); 2, Little Cornham (D Edwards) 3, Somerby (M Hampton); 9 ran; 2 1/2l; 3 1/2l; 6m 37s

Open Maiden Div 1: 1, Nitrogen (W Biddick); 2, Hallo Dolly (J Guerriero); 3, Madgik de Beaumont (D Edwards); 13 ran; 3/4l; 2l; 6m 43s

Open Maiden Div 2: 1, Strong Saddler (J Barber); 2, Henryville (W Biddick); 3, Noble Legacy (J Guerriero); 16 ran; 2 1/2l; 10l; 6m 41s

Open Maiden Div 3: 1, True Gem (I Chanin); 2, Buzz Me In (E Glassonbury); 3, Prince of Pop (M Nolan); 12 ran; 25l; 12l; 6m 44s

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