THE Exmoor meeting featured a training double for the local Rackenford yard of Mike Vanstone, and a riding double for Josh Newman on the Vanstone horses.
Lure Des Pres set the ball rolling in the Rosettes Direct sponsored Restricted, finishing with five lengths to spare over the well fancied Welsh challenger Tucks Bergin. Josh Newman was content to sit just off the pace as Tucks Bergin and Sweet Lady Jane vied for the lead. Newman made his effort on the winner going to the second last, and seven-year-old Lure Des Pres, running in the colours of the trainer, took command on the climb to the judge. "He is still green and a bit raw," reported the successful rider.
The Vanstone/Newman double was completed when Lawsons Thorns followed up his course win two weeks ago in the ten-runner Conditions race for eight-year-olds and over. This event was run in memory of Donna Kingdon and sponsored by her family. Josh Newman's mount was prominent throughout and held on well as Geoff Barfoot-Saunt brought Get Rhythm to challenge up the finishing hill. The hooded Lawsons Thorns stayed on strongly to score by five lengths as runner up Get Rhythm hung towards the inside ropes up the hill.
Newman was deputising for the injured Bryan Carver, and Lawsons Thorns took him to the 14-winner mark for the season. The winner is owned by Nigel Mackenzie and Richard Dening, and had run a few times for Dan Skelton in his younger days. "It has taken time but he is more chilled out now and easier to work at home," commented the successful trainer, who is contemplating bringing his charge back for the third Bratton Down fixture at the weekend.
Purple 'N' Gold has struck a winning patch lately and his Bray Leino sponsored Ladies' Open win was his fourth in succession since the end of March. Millie Wonnacott was in no hurry on this odds-on favourite until edging closer to the leaders at the final ditch. The veteran There's No Panic jumped to the front at this stage and was still leading when colliding with the straw bale marker rounding the final bend, losing his rider Ella Orttewell. This left Purple'N 'Gold in front and the 10-year-old was driven out to hold Its All Or Nothing and Bankhall in a blanket finish. "I ended up in front too soon and wanted a lead from the other horse (There's No Panic)," said the winning rider who was partnering her sixth pointing winner of the season and has now overtaken the injured Jo Supple for this year's Devon & Cornwall Area Ladies' title. Leslie Jefford trains the winner at Payhembury for the Here Comes The Girls partnership. There must be a lot of girls judging by the cheering.
The Moore Scarrott sponsored Men's Open went to the Heythrop gelding Dandan, ridden by 17-year-old Tristan Durrell, who is in his second year with the Dan Skelton yard. Warwickshire based Fran Moller saddled the winner for owner Hugh Wilson. Dandan relishes fast ground and was adding to his brace of firm ground Larkhill victories in the spring as he drew away from Namako after the last.
The Old Station House Inn Open Maiden attracted only four runners. Baby Sherlock's owner/trainer Roy Smith was absent watching the Champion's League Final in Madrid, but this did not stop his eight-year-old Baby Sherlock from breaking his maiden tag under Paul John. Brannoc and Baby Sherlock matched strides until Baby Sherlock got the upper hand on the final climb with Will Biddick's mount Chips For Free snatching second spot from Brannoc 0n the line. The winner, out of the excellent race mare Lady Cricket, started his career in David Pipe's hands and had shown snippets of form in his five point-to-points.
Kapricorne won the Hunt race sponsored by RSM Beares and Brian Thorne & Son. The gelding was following up last year's success in this race at the expense of his sole rival Gunner Vic. Owned by Denis Branton and trained by his daughter Rebecca, Kapricorne provided 25-year-old Vinny Webster with his first winner. "I spent three years in the Irish Army and started working with horses with point-to-point trainer Andrew Slattery. I have now been three years working for Nicky Martin over here and have had just a few race rides," said the County Kilkenny born rider.