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Dart Vale & Haldon Harriers
Sunday 15th March 2015
by Granville Taylor

THE game Devon mare Lucette Annie proved a shining star on a dull, overcast afternoon at Buckfastleigh where the going was predominately soft. This popular chestnut made all the running to score easily in the hands of regular jockey Darren Edwards. She was well clear and looked in command when Robbie Henderson pulled up the favourite The Mythologist almost within the wings of the second last. The favourite looked to be giving vain chase at the time. "He was very tired," said his jockey.

"Lucette Annie has now won 12 races including four times at Buckfastleigh," beamed Simon Partridge who trains the mare for owners Janet Humphrey and Clare West. This is almost certainly her last season since a mating with Black Sam Bellamy beckons. "I would like to run her in a hunter chase before then, but she is ground dependent and it would have to be on the soft side or good at least," added the Poundsgate trainer

The Restricted winner Miss Gotaway (Jamie Thomas) also confirmed a likeness for the track and testing ground by following up her course win last month when overhauling the front running Donpierre (Ben Robarts) approaching the final fence. Home bred by Audrey Goodwin, the Midnight Legend mare looks a decent stayer in the making. "She jumps well, stays all day and is one of the nicest mares in the yard," enthused trainer Kayley Woollacott.

Dicky Bob also started off his winning sequence on this course last month and was scoring for the third time in succession when turning the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate qualifier into a procession under Jo Buck. The betting suggested a straight fight between Dicky Bob (7-4) and Lotus Pond (11-10) who was seeking his fourth straight win. Peter Bryan sent Lotus Pond into the lead at the sixth fence, but Dicky Bob stuck his grey head in front at the fourth last and sailed well ahead down the hill to win in a canter. A tired Lotus Pond was overhauled by Infamous Grouse for the runner up spot. Jo Buck was partnering her 50th point-to-point winner on Dicky Bob, whose owner/trainer Verity Nicholls considered that her progressive grey, "needs more experience," when I posed the question whether the Cheltenham final of this event might be on the agenda.

The successful graduation of former pony racing riders has been a feature of Westcountry pointing this year. Hannah Welch, 17 and Harry Cobden, 16, are just two teenagers to emerge, and each added to their previous successes on Sunday.

Hannah's winner was the hat trick seeking Beuvron who landed odds of 1-4 in the Hunt race. "He will probably be better with the lighter weights in Ladies' races and we will go down that route now," stated Sam Holdsworth, who trains the ex-French gelding for Charles Stanley.

All 12 starters in the Novice Riders' race got round with Silver Token scoring by seven lengths after a patient ride from Harry Cobden. Ottery winner Mic's Delight set out to make all under Jennifer Davenport, but the winner had been making stealthy progress under his stylish young rider and seized the initiative running down the hill towards the last bend. This was the second winner of the weekend for Cobden who now has five point-to-points plus a Leicester hunter chase to his credit.

The two divisions of the Open Maiden race also attracted 12 runners in each division with each section going to previously unraced horses. Crosspark caught the eye in the parade ring in the first division, and this Midnight Legend five-year-old was well backed before making a winning debut under Josh Guerriero. Home bred by the Dennis family, Crosspark runs in the colours of Jill Dennis. "We hold this horse in the very highest regard. The dam Blue Shannon also produced It's a Long Road who won twice for us last month. This is better than giving mother a box of chocolates for mother's day," smiled Tim Dennis.

Another home bred in the shape of Wee Saxon opened his account in the other division. Tom Chanin eased the six-year-old into the race along the back straight, but his progress was halted with a mistake at the third last. The Kayf Tara gelding rallied down the hill and headed Oldeddietherebel on the home bend despite running green. Robert Chanin trains the winner for owner Julie Purdie and said, "He is a lovely young horse. We have had him since September but he cut a rear fetlock on Christmas Eve and had to have a month off." Julie's husband Sax said, "This horse is bred from a family we have had for forty years."

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