THE features of the seven-race Buckfastleigh card on Sunday (March 17) were defeats for odds-on favourites in both the Ladies' and Men's Opens, plus a landmark double for jockey Darren Edwards.
The shock of the day came in the Skinner's Ladies' Open when 1-5 favourite Dicky Bob unseated Thomasina Eyston at the fifth fence when leading. This left Belharbour Two to seize the opportunity. Heidi Lewis sent Garry Wilson's seven-year-old clear of the gallant Snuker after the second last to score by five lengths. Heidi, 22, was partnering her ninth pointing winner on this fit looking gelding. "He should be fit as I have hunted him all season," remarked the rider, who shares the training duties of their nine inmates with her partner Lee Drowne at their Boscastle yard.
Welsh challenger Spencer Moon, seeking his sixth successive victory, was backed into 1-2 favourite in the four-runner Totnes & Bridgetown Men's Open. Byron Moorcroft's mount held every chance coming down the hill, but the ultra game mare Whenharrymetsally, in receipt of 11 lbs, found an extra gear round the final bend and ran on determinedly to hold the rallying favourite on the run in. "That was one of the toughest races she has had. She goes out into the field three times a week and won't come in until she's ready which can be nine o'clock at night," smiled Keith Cumings, who trains the consistent winner for owner Hannah Broggio. Jockey Matt Hampton, whose day job is running a pre-training yard at Bath, was partnering his third winner of the season.
Cloudy Music followed up her Wadebridge Maiden win with a solid staying performance under Darren Edwards in the Restricted. Trained by Dean Summersby for owners John and Sonia Gardener. the six-year-old grey battled on dourly to beat Missyladie and front running Ballybruff. "She has not been easy to train and this was a much better performance," reported the trainer, who was enjoying the first winner he has saddled at this long established track.
Pistol Shoot continued on an upward curve to land the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate qualifier. This gave Darrren Edwards his 10 th winner of the season, and a landmark 250 career point-to-point winners .The 34 year old rider rode his first winner at Chipley Park in 2001. Both Dean Summersby and Nicky Martin have supplied plenty of winners in recent years for the rider, who is currently in pole position to regain his Devon & Cornwall jockeys title Bought by current connections as a three-year-old, Pistol Shoot lost his way after winning a bumper. "He has a massive engine but doesn't always try. I hope he will improve as he gets his confidence," said Nick Martin of her Milan gelding.
Matt's Legacy has not always behaved impeccably and his Open Maiden division one win can partly be attributed to starter Ian Widdicombe's patience. Once he found his stride, the seven-year-old did nothing wrong and gave connections consolation for his unlucky fall at Howick. Owner/trainer Luke Price bought Matt's Legacy out of Tim Vaughan's yard and his three hours trip to South Devon from Ynysybwl paid dividends under in form jockey Byron Moorcroft.
Joe Tickle, who trains near Tiverton, had saddled runner up Feu Des Malberaux (Darren Andrews) in the first Maiden, and quickly went one better when Robin Why Not finally came good under Darren Andrews in the other section. The race looked booked for Francesca Nimmo's newcomer Falloway Dubreau (Tommie O'Brien) coming down the hill after the penultimate, but 14-1 outsider Robin Why Not quickly sealed the issue after the last. Owners Kieran and Sophie Johns missed seeing their hitherto frustrating winner, who was wearing cheek pieces for the first time.
Minimalistic followed up his February course win under Josh Newman in the Hunt race in the colours of point-to-point chairman Edward Darke and his wife Susan. This rapidly improving seven-year-old is trained locally by Nikki Frost. "I didn't want to be in front but the leader made a mistake at the ditch and I had to go on." said the winning jockey.