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Dart Vale and Haldon Harriers at Buckfastleigh
Saturday 31st March 2018
by Granville Taylor

THE Dart Vale and Haldon Harriers fixture, postponed from its original date two weeks previously, only got the go-ahead after an early morning course inspection.

Further rain overnight meant heavy going at Buckfastleigh, and two jumps were omitted per circuit in all races due to ground conditions.

Whenharrymetsally (Matt Hampton) scored a hard fought victory in the Men's Open, just holding the sustained challenge of Navanman (Rex Dingle). The pair raced neck and neck from the home bend before Whenharrymetsally just edged out her challenger inside the last 50 yards. The winner is owned by Hannah Broggio and trained at Bishops Nympton by Keith Cumings. This Kings Theatre mare is one of the gamest point-to-pointers in training and this prolific 10-year-old is a credit to connections. "This is not really ideal ground for her but she dug deep," reported her jockey afterwards.

Blazing Bouncer had almost set up a double for Hampton in the opening Restricted race, but this well backed favourite had no answer to the finishing thrust of 10-1 outsider Micky Stark. The winner's rider Zoe Hawkins was content to drop her mount out over the first two miles in the gruelling conditions and kept plenty in reserve for the home straight. The 22-year-old rider also trains the Apple Tree gelding for her father Brian at Feniton near Honiton. "I used to ride him at Leslie Jefford's yard, and when he came up for sale I was determined to buy him," said Zoe, whose busy schedule also sees her riding out for Stuart Kittow.

The two and a half miles Open Maiden featured just five runners in each division. Predestined was backed from 4-1 to 5-2 before holding the renewed effort of Robin Why Not in the first section. The winner is a sturdy nine-year-old, trained by Gordon Chambers for owner Jenny Luscombe, and was the mount of 18-year-old Ben Jones, yet another promising jockey based with Philip Hobbs, with a dozen career winners behind him.

Minella Rising was partnered by Josh Newman to win the second section in beating promising five-year-old Raddon Top. The favourite Moonaro fell when leading four out. The winner, owned by Robin and Valerie Kemp, was saddled by Ed Walker.who was completing a double initiated by Miss Gotaway in the Ladies' Open.

Only two runners turned out for this Skinner's qualifier which saw previous course winner Miss Gotaway beating sole opponent Ray Diamond by 20 lengths. 29-year-old Abbie Hughes, also a competent rider in the eventing field, was enjoying her fifth pointing winner.

Double Captain followed up his Wadebridge success by taking the Connolly's Red Mills qualifier in a canter. Naomi Sims, who works for the Nigel Hawke yard, partnered the winner for her mother Ruth and said, "I didn't think he really enjoyed the ground and I thought I had kicked too early. He jumped fabulously though."

Lady jockeys certainly gained equality during the afternoon, and Hannah Welch became the fourth lady jockey to ride a winner as Charles Stanley's eight-year-old Beuvron captured the Hunt race for the fourth successive year. The 20-year-old rider, whose cousin Michael Treneer rode runner-up Uncle Keef, is currently taking a bloodstock course at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. "I ride out for Tom George and Alex Dunn between studies," said Devon born Hannah.

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