A good sized Bank Holiday crowd enjoyed warn sunshine and competitive racing at Upcott Cross for the South Tetcott meeting.
Indiana Bay won the Men's Open in good style, ridden for the first time by Darren Edwards. The nine-year-old defied a 7lbs penalty to draw right away in the home straight, beating Dancing Olga by 20 lengths. Indiana Bay is trained at Bude by Jill Dennis for his trio of lady owners, Margaret Cowling, Shirley Leslie and Caroline Furse. "He is a class horse but doesn't really quicken, he came down the hill in a Cheltenham hunter chase last month with his ears pricked, but got tapped for toe and finished third," explained Tim Dennis.
The Ladies' Open also featured a useful performer in the Welsh challenger Watch The Birdie, scoring for the third time in the last four weeks. Her regular jockey Hannah Lewis could forgive her mount for bucking her off leaving the paddock and again en route to the start. "I think her tongue tie was upsetting her. In the race I could just sit in behind as she has such a nice turn of foot," reported the rider, who eased her mount to the front on the top bend to win decisively.
The Restricted produced the biggest field of the day with 16 facing the starter. Will Biddick was in no hurry on hot favourite Vards, and after blundering at the first, he picked off his rivals one by one to catch Minella Arts jumping the last. In a lunging finish Biddick forced six-year-old Vards up near the line to win by a short head. This was the sixth winner of the season for the Axe Valley Racing Club, and brought up trainer Jack Barber's half century of pointing winners for the season.
The Novice Riders' race also saw a tight finish with 10-year-old gelding Archie Rice just getting the better of Absolutely Bygones by a neck, with Top Chief finishing a close third. This was a third point-to-point winner for 18-year-old Hugo Hunt, formerly with Andrew Balding and now attached to Nicky Henderson's yard. "I have ridden four winners on the flat and also had my first win over jumps at Ascot for Martin Keighley," said the promising young Dorset born jockey.
Hugo Hunt had also ridden plenty of pony race winners, and other pony racing graduates to enjoy success during the afternoon were Jake Bament and Bryony Frost.
20-year-old Jake Bament partnered his fourth winner of the season with a shrewd waiting ride on Back In June in the Confined. "They went quick enough early on and I didn't want to get there too soon." said the rider, whose mount jumped ahead of It's All Or Nothing at the last. The winner is trained at Boscastle by Karyn Heard, whose husband Colin remarked, "Back In June is improving all the time. He stays and jumps."
Bryony Frost switched from a successful pony racing career to ride her first pointing winner four years ago, and clocked up her half century between the flags on the mare Witchesintune in the first section of the divided Open Maiden. This was an apt 50th success for Bryony since Witchesintune is owned by her father Jimmy and saddled by mother Nikki who was completing a training double initiated by Archie Rice. "She was third in an Exeter bumper when Archie Rice was second a few years ago. We got her from Helen Nelmes. She cut herself at Trebudannon and it took a long time to heal. She will switch to novice chasing now," remarked Jimmy.
The key to finding a few winners at this meeting would have been to study the result of the Open Maiden at Trebudannon last month. Back In June won that race with Tetralogy second and Witchesintune third. Tetralogy did his bit by winning the concluding Maiden here under Vicky Wade. Trained by Lizzie Luxton at Lifton, Tetralogy was left in front when She's Dapper fell four from home, and survived a nasty blunder at the last to stroll home by 20 lengths.