EARLY drizzle gave way to watery sunshine with a rainbow straddling Buckfastleigh thrown in for good measure for the re-arranged South Pool Harriers point-to-point, postponed from a week earlier. Despite the prolonged wet spell the course was in great condition with the official going described as soft, heavy in places.
A quality field of six faced the starter for the £1,000 Mixed Open Westcountry Champion chase. Dicky Bob was sent off odds-on favourite, but this popular grey had to give best to Sue Trump's consistent gelding Kirkleigh, who made every yard of the running under Tom Chanin. Dicky Bob kept on well to finish second with Indiana Bay, who made a pleasing seasonal reappearance finishing third, just ahead of last year's winner Blazing Whale.
"The plan was to make it a staying race and for me to wind it up from three out," reported the winning jockey. "Kirkleigh is a wonderful horse and is back to his best and the best I have had him for a long time," added trainer Robert Chanin.
The Chanin father and son combination also provided the winner of the Confined in the shape of six-year-old Whatastormnorm. "We made too much use of him at Black Forest last time so I didn't want to hit the front too soon. He settled well here and jumped well," remarked the winning rider.
Punters who took note of the form from the recent South Dorset fixture at Milborne St Andrew would have been in profit. Kernel Victor followed up his Restricted success there by taking the Intermediate under Josh Newman. Trainer's wife Polly Walker said, "We were worried that he wouldn't want it too soft," but the promising eight-year-old stayed on well to hold the favourite Frelia. A hunter chase at Exeter could be on the agenda for the winner.
Master Baker had opened up his account with an emphatic win at the South Dorset and stepped up to win the Restricted here in impressive style under Jo Buck. This lightly raced, ever improving gelding, owned by Jackie McCullough, is trained at Payhembury near Honiton by Leslie Jefford.
"Our 14-year-old daughter Hannah rides him out regularly at home and he will probably go to Ottery next," said Lisa Jefford.
The five-year-old mare Bells On Sunday had finished third on her racecourse debut at the South Dorset and trounced her ten rivals here in the mares and fillies race. Home bred by Tewkesbury based owner Trea Newell, the workmanlike mare is trained near Chipping Norton by Sophie Lacey. 23-year-old jockey Thomas O'Brien, who works for the Tom Lacey yard, commented, "She handled the soft going okay and appreciated the three miles."
Confined winner Jepeck, owned by John Pike, also relishes soft ground and drew away from Delphi Mountain and Blinding Lights on the downhill run to the last under Jamie Thomas. "He works very well in the soft at home. I have had lots of seconds but he is my first winner this season," smiled relieved trainer Kayley Woollacott.