THE Eggesford featured 11 point-to-point races with a total of 93 runners, plus two pony races, making up nearly seven hours of entertainment for the crowd at Upcott Cross. The extended card was a consequence of three races having to be divided on the day, thanks to near perfect going at the North Devon track.
Highlights included five winners for leading trainer Richard Barber, and trebles for jockeys Will Biddick on his three rides, and Josh Guerriero.
Biddick's hat trick took his total for the season to 19, keeping him well in touch for the National title. His hat trick came on Bold Chief, Tregaro and Apple A Night, all saddled by Richard Barber. Owned by Bill Dupont and Carol Eyre, the progressive six-year-old Bold Chief was an impressive winner of the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate. The year younger Tregaro, bought by owner Kathy Stuart as a yearling, had to work harder to see off Blazing Whale in his Restricted division. "He is still maturing and strengthening," said assistant trainer Harry Fry.
Apple A Night was allowed to start at 6-1 when landing the concluding Maiden. Biddick was seen at his strongest her, forcing the six-year-old up to beat newcomer Lord Samson by half a length. The winner runs in the colours of the Axe Valley Racing Club, as does Barney's Mate, who added to the Seaborough yard's haul under 16-year-old Harry Derham in the Novice Riders' race. Mister Twirley was the other Barber winner, taking a division of the Restricted ridden by George Fry. "My first winning ride for five years," commented the 23-year-old rider on his family owned gelding. George gets limited riding opportunities however due to his Exeter University studies.
Josh Guerriero is riding at the top of his form at present and rode both winners of the first divided Maiden thanks to The Accordionist and Bernshaw. Ollie Jackson saddled The Accordionist for owner Brian Kilpatrick. Bernshaw just got the better of Tomerose in the other section. Ascot sales purchase Bernshaw is trained on Exmoor by Claire Wright for her parents Mike and Milla.
Guerriro had to work hard to get Here's Johny home in the Confined, just holding Absolut Power and Rockwithacaveman in a tight finish. Moretonhampstead trainer Gail Haywood has done well to restore Here's Johny to form for her aunt Suzy. "He took a while to get over his Ottery fall. I forgot the cheek pieces today and have to thank Ashley Farrant for loaning me a pair," said Gail.
Laura Claydon's King's Wood (Darren Edwards) repeated last year's success in the four miles Mixed Open, beating the odds-on favourite Special Account decisively after Joaaci had departed at the second last when upsides the winner. "He is so much better over four miles and we may aim for a long distance hunter chase at Folkestone next month", reported winning trainer Ashley Farrant.
Micheal Nolan partnered his eighth winner of the season on Iwakuni for owner Kevin Legg and trainer Christine Gray. This seven-year-old was bought in New Zealand last autumn from the eventing yard of Andrew Nicholson.
It was fitting that the Heard family had the call in the Members' race with the veteran Paddy The Piper. Michael Heard was riding his third winner of the season on the 14-year-old family owned and trained gelding. The young jockey's father John and grandfather Ken farm the land at Upcott Cross, and had done a marvellous job in getting the course in such good condition in the dry spell.