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20th March 2005
by Lee Glanville

Quick reactions earned Alice Mills her first point to point win at the Dart Vale and Haldon Harriers point to point at Buckfastleigh. In with a shout at the last in the second division of the maiden, upsides Dartmeet (Tom O’Brien) and tracking Starcross Rocket (Guy Weatherley), a loose horse carried the leader out through the wing, and took Alice's mount Sunny Ways and Dartmeet with them.

Shouts of "Go back Alice," rang out from supporters, and she quickly turned back, faced her horse at the fence and jumped it, pursued by Dartmeet, to win. "When we all were carried out, I thought someone must have been behind and gone on past us. I heard everyone shout and just did it, kicked on and then realised we had won. Eventing experience obviously helped the homebred mare, owned jointly by Alice and her mother Janine, and trained near the course, to cope with the unexpected. Alice, who is also bred for the job, as both mum and dad were prolific winning jockeys, is in her last year of A level study.

Weatherley was fortunately unhurt and Starcross Rocket, by Nomadic Way, looks an able replacement for owner Dennis Williams' prolific winner Well Armed.

Otherwise the meeting was a little subdued by the misty and chilly weather - most racegoers having travelled from sunnier climes. The feature race for the area - the Totnes and Bridgetown Mixed Open race , the Westcountry Champion Chase - was not the all-star affair of former years, the £300 first prize having been almost matched by several meetings this season, But it was won well by Sandy Duff, a big strong horse who gives owner/rider Mary McCarthy anything but an easy ride around tight courses. She managed to channel his enthusiasm in the right direction and beat nearest challenger Finewood ( Richard Woollacott) by six lengths.

The Mixed Open time was bettered in the Confined which saw a foot perfect display from Gudlage (Vanessa Shaw) who beat favourite Orangerie (Jamie Snowden) by a neck. This was Shaw's first win of the season, her fourth in all, but a first training success for her mother Pat, who, said Vanessa "does all the work!" Vanessa, who broke her back at Great Trethew in February last year, works for Dartmoor master and huntsman Mike Weir, and said that enthusiasm for race riding got her back into the sport. Orangerie, trained by Gordon Chambers, had started favourite and looked a class act. In a former life the horse was quick enough to win on the flat and over 2m in Cheltenham hurdle race.

The Restricted was the second fastest race of the day and Richard Woollacott was in the winners enclosure on the Rose Vickery trained Big Brendan - who was still a maiden before the win - after being dumped on his was to post. Big Brendan is owned by Brian and Ann Watts who were also awaiting a foal from their mare Elle Flavador. Just half a length second was Andrew Glassonbury on Bilton's Nap, trained by Sally Alner.

The Mendip Farmers qualified Deep Pockets completed a hat-trick for the season when taking the Intermediate under Jamie Snowden. Rachel Green rode a patient stalking race on Itchen Mill, a winner on the course a month ago, but could only get within two lengths of the winner at the post.

NH Owner David Johnson, enjoying the Cheltenham Festival last week, had the winner of the first division of the maiden at Buckfastleigh, in Getoutwhenyoucan (Guy Weatherley), a five year old by Old Vic. Caroline Prouse made much of the running on Grand Bretagne who faded four out but stayed on gamely to take third behind the Callow family’s Final Deal (Richard Woollacott).

Members: 1, By My Side, C Heard; 2, Itworked, Miss S Gaisford; 3, Siobhans Quinner, R Darke. Four ran, 6l, dist, 6.12.

Maiden Div One: 1, Getoutwhenyoucan, D Johnson; 2, Final Deal, R Woollacott; 3, Grande Bretagne, Miss C Prouse.Seven ran, 5l, 1/2l, 6.21

Maiden Div Two: 1, Sunny Ways, Miss A Mills; 2, Dartmeet, T O'Brien. Eight ran, only two finished. 20l, 6.41.

Intermediate: 1, Deep Pockets, J Snowden; 2, Itchen Mill, Miss R Green; 3, Barton Rose, I Chanin. Six ran, 2l, 5l, 6.14.

The Westcountry Champion Chase Mixed Open: 1, Sandy Duff, Miss M McCarthy; 2, Finewood, R Woollacott; 3, Stepasideboy, G Weatherley. Five ran, 6l, 2l, 6.10.

Confined: 1, Gudlage, Miss V Shaw; 2, Orangerie, J Snowden; 3, Smokey Joe, C Heywood. Nine ran, nk, 6l, 6.07.

Restricted: 1, Big Brendan, R Woollacott; 2, Bilton's Nap, A Glassonbury; 3, Superstar Express, G Weatherley. 15 ran, 1/2l, 4l, 6.09.

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