National leading trainer Jack Barber and leading jockey Will Biddick combined for a hat-trick to dominate the opening stages of the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale card. Hunt race winner Ask The Weatherman, and Maiden race winners Boa Island and Siege Of Troy provided the pair's three successes.
The wins took Jack and Will further clear in their national standings with 19 and 25 winners respectively.
Ask The Weatherman made all for a facile victory from Double Dizzy, who passed Maxi Chop to take second. The six-year-old has now won three of his four races between the flags – he and his conqueror Native Pride were 30 lengths clear of the opposition in his only defeat at Larkhill in January – and looks the sort to have a fine future under Rules.
Will adopted similar tactics aboard Boa Island who put in a fine round of jumping for an easy success. Bought for £38,500 at Cheltenham in November after finishing third in an Ayr NH flat race, Boa Island races for Ian Fogg, Paul Nicholls and Richard Webb.
Siege Of Troy, a faller when in contention at Woodford two years ago and knocked over when reappearing at Larkhill in January, deservedly opened his account under a classic Biddick holdup ride. "Will often rides Jack's horses prominently, but we just wanted to get the horse back into a nice racing mode," said Jack's father, Jeremy.
Hopes of a Barber-Biddick four-timer were dashed when Spuddler fell three out in the Restricted when leading, leaving Turtle Too (Ben Clarke) to get the better of a battle with Gleannacreim (Charlotte Hawker). "We bought him as he's by the same sire and reminds us of our other horse, Turtle Boys," said Harriet Brown, who trains the winner for 12 of her father, Jeffrey's, friends.
Chelsea Jennings, 21, got off the mark aboard outsider of six Tony Dinozzo in the Ladies Open. "I train this one and [Wadebridge runner-up] Wilde At Heart on the New Forest tracks and pathways and at Larkhill," smiled Chelsea, who also enjoys sailing from her Lymington base.
On the eve of the Cheltenham Festival, Cockney Trucker, who has finished third, fourth and fifth at the season's premier meeting, was an appropriate Mens Open winner. "He's benefited from lots of jumping over our Pontispool Equine Sports Centre hunter trial fences and from all the work Will Gordon has done with him," pointed out Richard Mitford-Slade, who trains the 13-year-old for members of his skittles team. The favourite, Foynes Island, was moving into contention when capsizing three fences from home.
Louise Cabble and Harry Cobden gained compensation for Foynes Island's departure when Roseyroo took the closing Club race. Given a confident ride by Harry, Roseyroo jumped the last in fourth place but had 1½ comfortable lengths to spare passing the line.
Winner of the 138cm pony race was Veno Star ridden by Fergus Gillard, while the 148cm race was taken by Calypso under Ben Godfrey.
Hunt Members (6 ran)
1. Ask The Weatherman (W Biddick, 2-5f); 2. Double Dizzy (F Procter, 12-1); 3. Maxi Chop (FR) (James King, 9-2). 6min 27s. 15l, 15l. (Jack Barber)
Open Maiden (Div 1) (10 ran)
1. Boa Island (IRE) (W Biddick, 4-5F); 2. Jolly Good Pepper (T Bishop, 66-1); 3. Chinatown Boy (IRE) (Miss A Mills, 9-2). 6min 34s. 15l, 6l. (Jack Barber)
Open Maiden (Div 2) (9 ran)
1. Siege Of Troy (IRE) (W Biddick, 1-2F); 2. Maddoxtown (IRE) (James King, 8-1); 3. Whacky William (H Cobden, 5-1). 6min 52s. 8l, 12l. (Jack Barber)
Restricted (8 ran)
1. Turtle Too (IRE) (Ben Clarke, 10-1); 2. Gleannacreim (IRE) (Miss C Hawker, 25-1); 2. Ballinla (IRE) (C Dando, 7-1). 6min 54s. 2l, 8l. (Harriet Brown)
Ladies Open (6 ran)
1. Tony Dinozzo (FR) (Miss C Jennings, 25-1); 2. Minella Fifty (IRE) (Miss C Prichard, 9-4F); 3. Ruapehu (IRE) (Miss A Mills, 5-2). 6min 38s. ½l, 6l. (Chelsea Jennings)
Mens Open (5 ran)
1. Cockney Trucker (IRE) (J Mathias, 5-4JF); 2. Satou (FR) (C Gethings, 9-2); 3. Rush'N'Roll (IRE) (M Legg, 7-1). 6min 52s. Nk, 20l. (Richard Mitford-Slade)
WAPP Club Members (6 ran)
1. Roseyroo (IRE) (H Cobden, 2-5F); 2. Louis Pasteur (IRE) (R Henderson, 8-1); 3. Falcon Ireland (E Doggrell, 12-1). 6min 52s. 1½ l, 2l. (Louise Cabble)