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Axe Vale
Stafford Cross

Sunday 7th May 2006

by Granville Taylor

Extensive watering produced remarkably good going for the Axe Vale meeting. A leading National Hunt trainer described the ground at Stafford Cross as “much better than Worcester”, where he had raced the night before, writes Granville Taylor.

Investor Relations followed up his recent Upcott Cross Ladies’ victory by winning the Mixed Open in the fastest time of the day. Taunton hunter chase winner Highway Oak was sent off favourite, and after making the early running was in trouble some way out, eventually finishing fourth. Investor Relations shook off the attentions of Saint Romble (Kathering Hobbs) in the home straight, stretching clear to win by eight lengths. Winning rider Tabitha Cave said that she had never sat on the horse before, and had come in for the ride to replace his former winning jockey Tanya Newman, who had announced her retirement from race riding after the Upcott Cross race. Investor Relations is owned by Mike Tozer and trained at Woolminstone, near Crewkerne by Tanya’s sister Chloe.

The Hobbs family occupied the winner’s enclosure after the Novice Riders’ race. This time it was the turn of sixteen year old Diana Hobbs who steered Wave Rock home to win by a length from the strong finishing Just Sally with Atavistic a neck away in third. Ex-chaser Wave Rock was giving his young rider her third winner in her first season of race riding. Now studying for “A” levels at King’s College, Taunton, Diana gets on well with Wave Rock, having ridden him on the gallops at home since she was ten years old.

No Way A Lady may be small, but she is very game and came home unchallenged to win the Restricted in the hands of Darren Edwards at 25-1. The race changed shape at the twelfth fence when Dursey Island crashed out through the wing and the favourite Brown Cockle was hampered and pulled up. Polly Gundry’s mount Betterware Boy was also pulled up before the next, and quickly dismounted. Pacemaker Sanderstead weakened on the final bend, and when her closest rival Polly Come Back took a heavy fall two out, it was all plain sailing for No Way A Lady. The home bred mare is jointly owned by mother and daughter Carol and Kelli Lawrence, and trained by Carol at Burrington near Umberleigh.

There was a much closer finish to the Maiden, with front running Gunville just lasting home from the fast finishing Simon’s Seat. Owned by Frances Bishop, Gunville was ridden by her 22 year old son Tom, who completes his final year at Exeter University this summer.

Sliema also attempted to make all the running in the Intermediate, but was reeled in by Millards Lad crossing the last. The winner is proving to be a very smart recruit to pointing this year, and is now unbeaten in three outings. Millards Lad is owned by Terry Evans and trained at Dunster by Aaron Bateman. Winning jockey James Tudor now occupies second place behind Richard Burton in the Men’s title race with twenty one winners.

Jamie Snowden is also enjoying a successful season and took his tally of pointing winners to fifteen (plus ten under rules) when Rachel Fear’s Up To The Minute just overcame Redberry Holly to win the Hunt race. Beadnell Bay almost made it a double for Snowden in the Confined, but could not withstand the late flourish of Dick Westacott’s good old servant Sir William. Winning rider Richard Woollacott said afterwards that his mount, “did not jump as well as usual, but just kept going”.


Hunt race
1 Up To The Minute (Mr J Snowden)
2 Redberry Holly (Miss P Gundry)
3 Curragh Gold (Miss E Tory)
5 ran: 4l, dist; 5mins 59

1 Sir William (Mr R Woollacott)
2 Beadnell Bay (Mr J Snowden)
4 ran: 4l; only two finished 6Mins 3

Mixed Open
1 Investor Relations ( Miss T Cave)
2 Saint Romble (Miss K Hobbs)
3 Wink and Whisper (Miss E Tory)
5 ran: 8l, 15l: 5mins 53

1 Millards Lad (Mr J Tudor)
2 Sliema (Mr N Wilmington)
3 Gone To Lunch (Mr N Harris)
5 ran: 3l, 2l: 6mins 1

Novice Riders’
1 Wave Rock (Miss D Hobbs)
2 Just Sally (Mr B Robarts)
3 Atavistic (Miss R Booth)
10 ran: 1l, neck: 6mins 3

1 No Way A Lady (Mr D Edwards)
2 Tory Blue (Miss E Tory)
3 Sanderstead (Mr A Charles-Jones)
8 ran: 25l, dist: 6mins 1

1 Gunville (Mr T Bishop)
2 Simon’s Seat (Mr D Alers-Hankey)
3 Blue Magnum (Miss P Gundry)
8 ran: 1l, 15l: 5mins 59

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