A huge crowd basked in the spring sunshine at Buckfastleigh where race cards were sold out before the first race and the ice cream queue stretched for miles, writes Granville Taylor.
A fine treble for Will Biddick took him to the 14-winner mark for the season in his quest for a third successive National jockeys title.
A tyre blow-out on the A38 near Exeter almost cost Biddick his first two winners as Richard Barber’s horse box carrying Maiden runners Pure Oxygen and Mister Trebus lurched to a halt on the roadside.
Fortunately all was well in the end and Pure Oxygen showed no ill effects when romping home in the first Maiden for owner Graham Roach.
The previously unraced Mister Trebus quickly followed up in the second maiden. “Still very green,” was the jockey’s verdict. This five-year-old was bought in Ireland last June and looks sure to improve further.
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The progressive Following Dreams justified 6-4 favouritism in the Mixed Open to complete the Cornish rider’s treble. Alastair Ralph trains this seven-year-old on behalf of his mother Diana and Susan Rimell. A possible tilt at the prestigious Lady Dudley Cup could await this Beneficial gelding.
It was a memorable day for Ashburton teenager Imogen Darke who saddled her first runner Grand Award to win the Hunt race under Alice Mills. Imogen suffered a serious accident four years ago and spent three months in Frenchay hospital. “Her long road to recovery has been difficult. We still don’t know exactly what happened then. She was bringing her pony in and we found her injured,” explained her proud father Ross Darke.
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Pony racing graduate Chester Williams has struck up a good association with his mother Jane’s Un Ami this year, and the pair were successful for the third time with a convincing win in the Intermediate. “We tried different tactics this time by holding the horse up,” said Jane.
Robbie Henderson still leads the Devon and Cornwall jockeys title race, and after finishing second to Un Ami on Punter Friendly went on to score on 20-1 outsider King’s Bench in the 17-runner Restricted.