11:33 21 January 2014
AT last this season we were able to enjoy sunshine from a clear blue sky at Chipley Park, writes Granville Taylor.
It was not all plain sailing though with lashings of mud around the bookies and paddock which made wellington boots the essential fashion accessory.
A total of 108 runners contested the 10 races with soft going putting a premium on stamina.
All credit to the organisers in defeating the endless wet spell to provide quality racing on soft going.
“We even had to drain the bottom bend with six inch pipes after it rained again on Saturday night,” said secretary Keith Granger.
The Mixed Open saw champion jockey Will Biddick displaying his artistry with a smooth success on Certain Flight. Biddick saved every inch of ground on the rails until edging his mount ahead of All Great N Theory in the home straight.
Keith Cumings trains Certain Flight for owners Richard and Tina Dunsford, and was quick to pay tribute to the rider, saying: “He was given a lovely ride. I was not sure how he would cope with the ground”
The Devon mare Lucette Annie revelled in the conditions to score on her seasonal debut in the Mares race. The mare looked really on song and now heads to the valuable Buckfastleigh Mixed Open she won last year.
“Our gallops on the farm at Poundsgate have been waterlogged and we missed Wadebridge this year. She is a lot stronger and has done a lot of hill work” remarked Simon Partridge who trains the tough chestnut on behalf of owners Chris and Janet Humphrey.
Ottery St Mary based Ed Walker sent out a winner with his first runner of the season in the shape of Blazing Whale in the 16-runner Intermediate in the hands of Robbie Henderson.
“We have only just started because they all came in fat. He is a proper old fashioned chaser,” commented the trainer, who shares ownership in the Classic Cliché gelding with Francis Read.
Classic Cliché was also responsible for siring the Novice Riders’ winner Justabout, who is out of Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Dubacilla. The winner was ridden by Ciaran Gethings who forced his mount up to beat Tamatown and Barneys Mate in a blanket finish. “Ciaran works for Philip Hobbs and schooled him there the other day, but I ride him out at home,” proclaimed the 74-year-old trainer.
Thorverton trainer Robert Chanin saddled a remarkable seventh consecutive winner in the space of five weeks when For The Staff , owned by Roger Knowles and Annie Argyrides, stayed on well under Ian Chanin to win the Hunt Race. “We wanted to give him an easy race to start him off because he had a few hard races last year,” said the trainer.
The first division of the Restricted produced the closest finish of the day as Romassor and Un Ami fought out a neck and neck battle.
It was the recent Wadebridge winner Romassor who was awarded the verdict by a short head under Tom David. “He is a big horse with an enormous stride who will keep on improving.” said trainer Chloe Roddick.
Illicit Illusion initiated a double for jockey Sam Drinkwater and trainer Tom Lacey in the other Restricted division. The Heron Island six-year-old, owned by the jockey’s father Paul, just held the sustained challenge of Whenharrymetsally to follow up his Barbury Castle Maiden victory.
“This is a lovely course, it’s the first time I have ridden here,” said Sam who went on to complete the double on five-year-old Thedrinkymeister in the first Open Maiden which had to be divided on the day.
The winner is another produce of Heron Island out of a mare called Keel Row who won a couple of hurdle races for the Queen Mother.
●Read more on a thrilling day of racing at www.midweekherald.co.uk