IT was a day of doubles on testing going at Upcott Cross, where a healthy total of 74 runners faced the starter in eight races.
The breezy, cool afternoon featured three training doubles coupled with two riding doubles. Darren Edwards is having a tremendous season and landed the four miles "Devon National" on the useful Bradley Brook. "His jumping can be sketchy at times but he was fine today," reported the jockey. Bradley Brook's trainer Nicky Martin was not sure that her charge would see out the long trip. The Exmoor trainer said, "They go a bit slower over four miles and he did well. He needs softish ground and ran well over three and a half miles at Stratford last year. We could go there again,"
Edwards completed his double when Cracking Habit won the appropriately named Sarah Prouse Birthday Celebration Open Maiden. The winner is owned and trained by Sarah at Crediton, Devon. She had earlier saddled her Beetle Jack to win the David Phillips Bookmaker Open Maiden under David Noonan, who currently leads the area novice riders' championship "We haven't got an all weather gallop and train them on a small strip in the field. Both these horses were home bred by Henry (Sarah's late husband) out of our mare Monty's Lass who won a hunter chase. Our daughter Caroline broke them in, rides them and jumps them."
Kayley Woollacott's successful season continued thanks to Cinevator's Hunt race win and Jepeck's hard fought Confined victory. Harriet Skinner was enjoying her third career success on board ex-chaser Cinevator – "a brilliant serious spin", in her words.
Rose Ash trainer Kayley Woollacott went on to saddle her 16th winner of the season when the progressive Jepeck (Jamie Thomas) got his head in front on the line in the colours of Jon Pike to beat According To Harry. Jepeck gained the first of his four wins in the opening race of the season at Black Forest Lodge and, "loves cut in the ground and a good test," according to his trainer.
Jack Barber is another trainer who cannot stop saddling winners from his Dorset base. His two winners here put him on the 34 winner mark for the season and a comfortable lead for the Connolly's Red Mills National trainers' title. Ask The Weatherman was not hard pressed to win the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate in the hands of Will Biddick. The champion jockey went on to record his 43rd winner on the season on the exciting five-year-old Boa Island, who went into many notebooks when trouncing his 12 rivals in a good quality Restricted. "He has now won his two point-to-points and that will be him for the season. He will join Paul Nicholls to go under rules and is for sale to stay in the yard," said Jack
Robbie Henderson steered the Ed Walker trained Annwyl to win the Mares and Fillies Open Maiden. "She has been a bit slow at her fences in the past, but we have done a lot of work with her and she jumped big today," commented the jockey.