SPRING sunshine brought out a massive crowd for the Dartmoor meeting on Saturday (April 17th).in the picturesque setting of Flete Park.
Ross Oliver’s Wee Fly got her head in front for the first time this season, beating her sole opponent Takotna in the Ladies’ Open. Takotna’s rider Polly Gundry originally planned to ride Wee Fly, but a very late switch saw Jo Buck in the saddle on the winner. “Wee Fly is only small and didn’t like the heavy ground early in the season”, said her owner/trainer adding that she is likely to “come back here for the four miles Ladies’ race in two weeks time”. Jo Buck is on the crest of a wave at present, having ridden Theatre Diva to a Cheltenham hunter chase success two days earlier on her first ride there.
The prestigious Lord Mildmay of Flete Memorial four miles Men’s Open went to Bill Westacott’s Come What Augustus, who retained his unbeaten record for the season in the hands of his trainer Richard Woollacott. “He travelled well on the better ground”, reported Richard, who was partnering his 18th winner of the season.
Josh Guerriero is in great form at present, having recorded his first treble at Cothelstone on the previous Sunday. He had finished runner up to Come What Augustus on Learning The Blues, but took the Confined on board 14-1 outsider The Venetian, who drew clear of Wee Bertie approaching the final fence. Gail Haywood trains The Venetian at Moretonhampstead for her aunt Suzy. Henri Prends Garde proved a disappointing favourite in this event and was pulled up by Richard Woollacott when well out of contention at the top of the hill.
Portway Lane was confidently ridden by Matt Griffiths to see off her five rivals in the Restricted. She is the only pointer at present in Samuel Callow’s yard at Yelverton, but is obviously on the upgrade. “That didn’t take much out of her”, quipped the owner/trainer, adding that, “she had run well in the mud at Buckfastleigh and I knew she was ready for this when she kicked my trailer last night”.
Another mare to finish in the winner’s enclosure was five-year-old Gorgeous Girl in the Confined Maiden, ridden by Becky Barnett. Becky acts as farrier to the winner’s trainer Robert Chanin, and shares ownership of Gorgeous Girl with Lucy Faircloth, who is Polly Gundry’s farrier. The girls run the mare in the name of “The Hammer & Tong Partnership”, not difficult to work out given their occupation.
Alice Pearn was successful on her father’s Deloughtane in the Intermediate. This was a one day early 60th birthday present for Alice’s father John, who has been a stalwart supporter of west country pointing for many years. Alice sent her mount well clear from the third last to win with plenty in hand.
There was a shock in the Hunt race when long odds-on favourite Glacial Call, bidding for her fifth win of the season, was pipped on the post by Waziri. “I haven’t ridden in a race for three or four years and I have hunted Waziri all season until last Saturday” said winning rider Sam Holdsworth, who got the winner’s head in front in the last stride.
The next meeting at Flete Park is on Saturday, May 1. The first race is off at 2pm.
Men’s Open – 4 miles