The Weston & Banwell Evening meeting at Cothelstone was well supported by both trainers and public with a decent crowd there to witness some exciting racing. The Ladies Open was a thriller with a three-way photo in which David Jones' Bankhall prevailed over former course winners Western Diva and Ni Sin E Mo Ainm. Jockey Emma Jones explained that at the start "everyone wanted to make the running and it was really messy, so I just tried to keep out of trouble" Having made the running to win at Maisemore last time, she had to change her tactics early on and desperate to get a position, he found another gear once he saw daylight. She had purchased the horse via Facebook after she lost another at Chipley Park and he showed he is starting to thrive under her care.
Nine went to post for the Confined and Keith Cumings' High Priority once again showed his liking for the course when accounting for Trueflyingcolours with It Has to Be back in 3rd. Josh Newman who steered the half-brother to Woodford County to a 2 length success said "I was never going to be in a rush early on as he needs to be kept really relaxed. The ground is the key to him and I had a plan!" As this was a Confined race he is still eligible for an Intermediate and Keith confirmed he may next go to Upcott Cross on Bank Holiday Monday as he prefers a flatter track.
The Young Horse Maiden proved to be too steep a learning curve for some with only 3 of the 9 starters finishing. They were well strung out after a fair early pace set by Rubheira and when he departed going down the hill, it was left to Limoncello and newcomer A Tipple Or Two to fight it out. The more experienced Limoncello eventually gained the upper hand under Dave Prichard to record a 2½ length success but the second was certainly one to take from the race. Trainer Ian Prichard for whom it was a first winner of the season explained they had been waiting for the good ground for him. He had purchased the horse from Jane Williams to replace the retired Ballytober and this was a welcome tonic after losing the mare Massini's Vision at Lower Machen recently.
Jockey Dave Prichard notched a Maiden double when he took the first division of the later race for older horses. His second win could not have been more impressive aboard Massini's Blade for trainer Mike Watson. Mike's wife Sheila was leading the horse up and said "we have waited so long for a winner, we have forgotten what it's like! The horse is an 11yo and has come off Exmoor a year ago, un-named and unraced!" Made up of Stuart and Clare Stevens, Martin Tuck and Vicki Browne along with the trainer and his wife, The Not So Innocent Partnership were busy taking cheeky offers from NH trainer Nigel Hawke and Philip Hobbs' assistant Johnson White in the winners enclosure as to where the horse should go summer jumping. The second division was the quicker of the two and as expected the Sophie Lacey trained 4yo Enchancia was a hot favourite. Making his debut he settled well in mid-division and although still green, won nicely for jockey Tommie O'Brien from West Chinnock who rather spoilt his chances with some errant steering.
Welsh trainer David Brace clearly enjoys his raids across the border and it was no surprise to see him back in the winner's enclosure after the Novice Riders race. Grandson Connor showed why he is the leading novice rider this season when coolly easing Robin des People to the front to record a 6 length winner over fellow Welshman Repeat Business. It was an 18th victory of the season for Connor and David confirmed the winner may now head to Stratford in June where the flat tight track should suit him.
The Restricted Race resulted in a popular local winner when Carroll and Chrissy Gray's Morpet took advantage of a last fence mistake by favourite Pointview Gale to get up and win by a neck in a thrilling finish. With four in line coming to the last, jockey Jake Bament got the better jump and was able to stay in front for a well-earned success for owner/breeder Sally Hutchings. Sally was very relieved afterwards and confessed she had thought the ground would have been on the firm side for this big framed son of Morpeth.
In the Men's Open, the bookies made Shantou Tiger favourite but jockey Sam Jukes had other ideas on Uppertown Hawk and gave the eventual winner an enterprising front-running ride being 20 lengths clear at one stage. With the favourite starting to labour four out, Sam who also trains for owner Clive Bennett at his Dymock yard, got some impressive leaps from the chestnut gelding who held on to win from Mont Choisy with Mitebeallforluck back in 3rd.
The Pony Races preceded the evening with two divisions of the 138cm ponies. The first division went to Edward Vaughan who came from last to first on Nomoranun while the second division was won by William Dunlop who rode a well-judged race on Talponiau Perfect Print. The 3rd Pony Race for 148cm ponies was a second winner for Edward Vaughan on Humbel Mind who came out best in a tight finish with Otis Morgan on Tarka and Harry Brown on Little Bull.