BRATTON DOWN hosted the penultimate point-to-point fixture of the season on Sunday (June 5th) on an increasingly wet afternoon, with angry looking dark clouds scudding across the Exmoor landscape
The rain had not arrived in time to get into the ground, so a good proportion of 27 runners from the 50 entries was a satisfactory outcome and led to entertaining racing with some close finishes on fast ground.
Josh Newman was on the right side of two consecutive photo finishes. After lifting the favourite No Risk With Lou home by a short head in the Riverside Caravan Park Open Maiden, the judge was again clicking the camera to confirm that Dr Rhythm had just held the rallying Ninth Wave by a head in the Exmoor Hay & Straw Ltd sponsored Intermediate.
Newman rode an ultra patient ride on five-year-old No Risk With Lou, dropping his mount out the back as Darren Edwards and Businessman made the running. Christopher Barber’s four-year-old debutant Andy du Pierre took over on the climb for home, but the winner’s strong finishing effort saw his head in front in the last few strides. The winner’s owner Kayley Woollacott explained that having bought the French bred gelding at Doncaster as a three-year-old, “It was the intention to run him as a four-year-old but he couldn’t run due to covid.” “He can be very keen and would make a deadly hurdler,” said the jockey, whose mount had shown promise in his two previous runs over jumps at Great Trethew and Cothelstone.
Newman quickly followed up on Dr Rhythm to reach his 20th winner of the season in the Intermediate as the mist descended, but his win was not without a scare. Travelling strongly in the lead, the Keith Cumings trained nine-year-old slipped rounding the straw bales on the last bend, nearly falling and causing the rider to lose an iron. “I tried to kick the other one out but got to the last fence with it jammed in. We got over it somehow.” Not only did he get over it, he was soon battling out the finish with Ninth Wave and got the head verdict. The runner up also had his hard luck story having stood still at the start forfeiting 20 lengths.
Charlie Sprake, level with Freddie Gordon on the 12 winner mark for the Highflyer Bloodstock national novice riders title, had been on the wrong end of the two close finishes. He also had to settle for a place as Bennys Miracle could only finish third as Mustmeetforapint and Champions Hill fought out the finish of the Witheridge Garage Restricted. It was 19-year-old Chad Bament who just came out on top to secure his second career success on the 10-year-old family horse trained by his mother Helen at Torrington. The winner started at 25-1, the longest priced winner in the area this season and could run again at Umberleigh.
Will Biddick gave up all his booked rides at Bratton, having conceded the national men’s title to James King, who went on to ride his 63rd winner of the season on Jack Dillinger in the Men’s Open sponsored by South Molton company ucanstore.com. Freddie Gordon’s hopes of a winner disappeared in this race as Highway One O One departed at the seventh fence which is situated out of sight behind a tall hedge. It was a rapid follow up to Wednesday evening’s Garthorpe success for the Luke Price trained winner. Owner Jason Rees said, “He only had a canter at Garthorpe and that’s why we ran him here to support James. We bought him out of Ireland a year ago from Joseph O’Brien.”
Danni Kenealy sent out Skilful Lord to win the Winston Pincombe Land Rovers Hunt race in the colours of the hunt chairman Brian Palfrey, who farms sheep at Stoodleigh near Tiverton. The ex- David Pipe gelding headed Broughtons Rhythm inside the last 200 yards to give 28-year-old Vinny Webster his eighth winner of the season.
Monsieur Gibraltar, (Ella Orttewell) looked to have a simple task against solitary opponent Court In Flight (Annabel Duman) in the Greenslade Taylor Hunt Ladies’ Open at odds of 1-10. After sauntering along well in command in the lead he found his opponent having the temerity to draw alongside at the brow of the hill 200 yards out. The hot favourite soon asserted however to follow up his recent course win, and his fourth of the season. The successful 22-year-old jockey works for the winner’s trainer Will Biddick at his Alhampton yard and was enjoying her fifth career success. “The instructions were to give him an easy race as he might run again at Umberleigh,” said Paul Nicholls, who shares ownership with John Bolton. Paul’s 16-year-old daughter Olive missed her usual ride on the 11-year-old after injuring a leg in an eventing fall at Newcastle on the previous day