THE milder South Devon climate helped Black Forest Lodge to beat the recent sharp frosts which claimed most of the weekend's racing.
The Silverton meeting attracted a total of 91 runners for eight races on good going, with plenty of challengers from Wales and the Midlands.
The Ladies' Open was full of incidents. Two of the 14 runners departed at the first fence as Imperial Circus took the field along. His nearest pursuer Doctor Henry was forced out by a loose horse at the 10th fence, and the favourite Karinga Dancer appeared to be in control when distracted by a loose horse and ran inside a marker on the bend after the 15th. This left Imperial Circus well clear of his rivals to give his 26-year- old jockey Jodie Perry her first winner. Richard Mitford-Slade trains the winner at Pontispool near Taunton on behalf of the four members of the Clown Club syndicate. The rider works in the yard and, "does all the work" according to the trainer. It was good to see 14-year-old former Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carruthers chasing the winner home under his young rider Lily Bradstock.
Karinga Dancer was ridden by his trainer Laura Thomas. The Barbury Castle handler went on to saddle runner-up Full Trottle (Johnny Bailey), who went down fighting in a driving finish with Porlock Bay (Darren Edwards) in a good quality Men's Open. Course winner Porlock Bay was achieving his seasonal hat trick for owner/trainer Luke Harvey. "He is the most incredible horse and wants to win," exclaimed a delighted Luke, adding, "Our objective is the Lockinge Members' (Old Berkshire Easter Monday) and I don't care after that," laughed the Attheraces TV pundit.
Black Forest Lodge is normally a happy hunting ground for Welsh horses, and a trio of winners travelled across the Severn Bridge on Sunday.
16-1 outsider Master Tim set the Welsh ball rolling in the 14-runner Restricted under Bradley Gibbs. The nine-year-old made virtually all the running to score convincingly. 26-year-old Robbie Llewellyn trains the gelding at Cowbridge for the Llewellyn family. "He has had a tendon injury and lost his form last season. We have hunted him a lot but it has taken a long time to get him fit." reported the young trainer.
The same yard struck again when Agentleman gained a short head verdict over newcomer Kintamini in a section of the Open maiden under Evan David. This seven-year-old was bought privately from Roy Brotherton. "This is my first double," remarked the trainer, adding that, "Evan's brother Tom has missed riding our two winners. He has gone skiing at Val D'Isere."
The Llangeinor qualified Desert Roe, with Richard Patrick in the saddle, justified favouritism with a 25 lengths success in the quickest of the three Maiden divisions. This Vinnie Roe gelding hails from the Bridgend yard of Jonathan Tudor, and the cheers of his enthusiastic owners – The Our Boy Partnership – must have been heard across the estuary
Nikki Frost supplied the other Maiden winner in Bogoss Du Perret, who drew clear round the final bend to relegate Wales into second and third places. The six-year-old Frost winner carries the colours of Joan Berry, having been sourced unraced by Hadden Frost in France. "He has taken time and it is all about growing up," said Jimmy Frost
The Mexican Bandit capped a fine training performance by the Bishops Nympton yard of Keith Cumings in winning the Intermediate. The nine-year-old had been off the course for nearly two years with a tendon injury He was a 70th birthday present for owner Diana Scott and spent most of his break on his owner's farm. "He was a bit keen but gave me a brilliant feel," explained successful jockey Sean Houlihan.
The Hunt race proved to be the sole contest to attract single figures on the day, and The Dapper Fox was not hard pressed to account for his five rivals. His 27-year-old owner/trainer Jack Veysey, a Cullompton based farrier, was gaining his fourth career success in the saddle.