Latest racing news from the south-west
- Credit: Cameron Geran/PPAUK
It was a big week for racing in the South West, with meetings taking place at both Exeter last Tuesday and Taunton on Saturday.
The latter was featured on ITV racing and there has been a significant growth in TV audiences for ITV during the pandemic, which reflects both their ever-improving outstanding coverage and the fact that more people are at home with less other sport to watch during the current lockdown.
Exeter had to deal with what has become almost the norm in recent weeks, with an inspection required to give the go ahead on Tuesday morning.
After the heavy rainfall from Storm Christoph, the ground was exceptionally heavy and a real struggle to get through.
The conditions particularly showed in the last race on the card for young horses, with the two most fancied runners from the two leading trainers, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nichols, particularly finding the conditions too difficult and failing to run to their potential.
A trainer in form and a lady who specialises in those sturdy National Hunt horses, Venetia Williams, was true to form in winning the main long-distance steeplechase with favorite, Don Herbager.
Taunton's card once again put Devon's own Bryony Frost in the limelight.
She partnered the odds-on favorite - Yala Enki in the main event, the Portman Cup Chance. It was an eventful race with Bryony and Yala jumping beautifully until a near catastrophe at the fourth last fence when the horse made a terrible mistake.
Thankfully, through his own experience and his riders' consummate skill, the partnership stayed intact and recovered for an ultimately convincing victory.
Trainer Paul Nicholls is considering the Grand National as Yala Enki's next challenge and, if so, that will give Bryony the chance to emulate her father by winning the legendary race, which would be a massive boost to her career.
Exeter will be hosting three more meetings in February, on Wednesday 3rd and then the 14th and 26th.
Newton Abbot will be back on the racing menu in April, with the first meet scheduled for the 3rd and then a packed summer fixture list.