Following steady rain during the day, the weather relented prior to racing and the crowd at the Weston and Banwell meeting at Cothelstone was treated to some excellent racing.
"3 apples, 3 carrots and 3 sticks of celery in 3 days" may sound more like the sort of diet that supermodels aspire to, but for David Redvers it made all the difference as, with his weight down to his minimum, he drove the Fiona Read-trained Sacre Toi home in the Novice Riders' event to score that all-important first success. Having sat patiently in mid-division while Jodie Perry and Imperial Circus took the field along at a strong pace, David timed his run to perfection as he stoked up his ultra-game mount to land the spoils by four lengths. The initial plan was to retire triumphant but David, who was caretaking the schoolmaster for 15-year-old George Daly to pilot next season, may yet continue. Combining the roles as Manager of Tweenhills Stud, being a bloodstock agent and also racing manager to the Qatari Royal Family, David is no stranger to hard graft. He also completed the Mongolian Derby last year and this Spring he posted a personal best in the London Marathon.
There was also an emotional win for another jockey when Claire Hardwick notched her 100th winner aboard the appropriately named Western Diva in the Ladies' Open. Taking up the running after a circuit, Claire kicked clear going into the second-last and Western Diva only had to be pushed out to score easily from Champagne Rosie, with Florence Mary back in third. The mare, who clearly takes after her name, is owned by Claire and her Mum Helen along with Sue Horton and Chris Dee who make up the Mini Dreams Partnership. Helen explained the win meant so much as the late Nick Sarson had found the horse for them and it took all of Claire's expertise to keep the lid on this very talented mare at home.
The Men's Open posted the smallest field of the night but Kernel Victor showed what a quality horse he is, strolling home by 18 lengths from Theatre Evening, with last year's winner River of Time back in third. Jockey Josh Newman was notching his 15th winner of the season, while trainer Ed Walker explained he nearly hadn't run the horse having walked the course that morning. As the rain started to soak in, he decided to let him take his chance and it paid dividends for owner Mrs Targett, who enjoyed watching her horse run locally.
Lucy Mager is another jockey riding at the top of her game at the moment and she steered favourite Moscow Prices to victory in the opener, the Confined. Biding her time, Lucy produced the Alflora gelding over the last to complete a hat-trick on the horse after wins at Woodford and Barbury Castle. Trainer Kim Tripp admitted they nearly gave up on the horse but felt a tongue-tie had made a big difference. She thought he may possibly go for the Restricted at Stratford in June as Lucy was keen to ride over NH fences and the course should suit him.
The first of the maidens, this time for younger horses, saw Vicky Wade give Gentleman Farmer an inspired ride as she got up on the line to deny Will Biddick on Doctor Tiger. This lovely scopey son of Tobougg is out of the mare Sweet Shooter, who owner Richard Hawker himself rode 34 times pointing, winning four. Only just beaten on his pointing debut at Upcott Cross, Richard explained he was extremely confident that the horse would win. The five-year-old chestnut is now destined for a NH career, with a run over hurdles being the plan before being sent chasing next year.
Having been denied in the second race, Will Biddick was in no mood to fill the runner-up spot in the Restricted on the Sheree Lean-trained Moreece. A run last time in a Hunter Chase had been one step too far at this stage in his career but the drop back to pointing proved ideal as he comfortably saw off Golazine to win by 10 lengths. Sheree explained the horse had been bought to replace stable favourite, the recently injured and retired Key People, and he may go to Bratton Down for an Intermediate.
The finale, the Open Maiden, was won by Bryony Frost on the amusingly named Findusatgorcombe for owner Phil Meaden and trainer Nikki Frost. Phil who also bred him, explained he had named the horse "Findus" as he was born during the "horsemeat" scandal and hence he became Findusatgorcombe. Jimmy Frost was quick to credit vet James MacIntosh with some remarkable surgery after the horse broke his jaw in February and now has it wired together. By the same sire as the earlier maiden winner Tobougg, he too looks to have a bright future.
The two Pony Races that preceded the evening racing were won by Megan Bevan, riding the seemingly unbeatable Churchill, while the second event easily went to Charlie Sprake on Mr Marshall.