10 January 2012 Scene & Heard: North Cornwall - Wadebridge
by Carolyn Tanner
The evergreen Southwestern recorded his 23rd victory for the Exmoor Partners, and his second of the season, when justifying favouritism in the Men's Open under Neil Harris.
"Stratford is at the back of our minds if all goes well," said trainer Camilla Scott, "but the main thing is to keep him happy. We'll stick to this for the time being, as he's enjoying himself. It's so hard watching him," she added. "I feel sicker every time he comes into the paddock."
"It was a pleasure to ride him today," commented Neil, who had prepared for the race with an early night, unlike on Friday when he and a group of friends had spent the evening enjoying a quiet drink or several (bottles, that is, not glasses). This could have boded ill for the following day's shooting expedition, but Neil is made of sterner stuff. "I shot like a demon!" he announced.
Sericina had returned from Larkhill the previous day without a run, Chloe Roddick having withdrawn her after The Slug had sadly broken down. She was installed odds-on favourite for the AGA Ladies' Open but was comprehensively put in her place by Monkerty Tunkerty, who made much of the running under trainer Jess Westwood and drew clear on the run-in despite his rider dropping her whip after the last.
Jess, who owns the nine-year-old with her parents Andrew and Sharon, is in no doubt that Monkerty Tunkerty is well named. "He's a real monkey at home," she stressed. "It takes half an hour to get him out of the yard, he's not good on the road, and he bit the diamond out of mum's ring!"
The Scott connection was in evidence here too, as Jess works for Camilla's husband Jeremy and looks after Five Star Wilsham.
There were no complaints from Chloe, whose belief was that Sericina had been beaten by a very good horse, but Maiden Division Two winner Waldo Pepper, who had also had an abortive trip to Wiltshire, ensured that she did not leave Wadebridge empty-handed.
Waldo Pepper, who had been off the track for some time due to a series of niggling injuries, was reported to have been working well at home, with owner David Luff doing most of the schooling on him. David, who was working at the meeting in his capacity as jockeys' valet, rode about 25 winners between the flags before retiring four years ago after breaking his back.
Jockey Will Biddick made it a weekend treble when picking up the ride on Waldo Pepper at the very last minute due to the unavailability of Micheal Nolan, who was claimed to partner the Sue Popham-trained Persian Shadow.
Persian Shadow pulled up, but Micheal and Sue had their moment of glory 35 minutes earlier when taking Division One on Carlos Gardel, whose success provided "my best ever birthday present" for owner Peter Bugler.
"He takes a bit of time to get into his stride," smiled Sue of her charge, who was purchased out of Mark Rimell's yard in May. Sue, who uses Philip Hobbs's facilities, has a team of five for the season. "That's the number of boxes I've got, so we're full," she laughed.
Micheal has returned to the Hobbs yard after spending the summer in his native Ireland, ostensibly on holiday, but while there he was called upon, less than 24 hours before the race, to substitute for Shay Barry on Venture Lazarus at the Galway Festival, and booted home his mount to a 33/1 success.
Micheal is hoping to turn Conditional at the end of the season.
Another rider who had been in the number one enclosure at Larkhill was Darren Edwards, who won the closing Confined on Lucette Annie, trained for Chris and Janet Humphrey by farmer-cum-fence builder Simon Partridge, himself a former winning Point-to-Point rider.
"She loves mud and stays for ever, so you need to make use of her," said Simon, who broke in the mare after Chris purchased her at Ascot in 2007.
Darren was probably the weekend's most travelled rider, having driven from Market Harborough, where he works as a Chartered Surveyor, to Larkhill and then on to Wadebridge before returning to Leicestershire that evening, but Chris and Janet had also clocked up some unnecessary miles. "We forgot to bring the colours, and we'd got to Launceston, about 60 miles from home, before we realised," explained Chris, "so we had to go back to collect them!"
Much of the action during the day was shrouded in mist, and most of the Confined and the preceding Maiden took place unseen by spectators. Despite the conditions, the organisers had not felt the need to adjust the race times, so they were fortunate to get through the meeting before the light gave out.
"Please feel free to talk among yourselves." Commentator Mark Dennis's view was no better than anyone else's!
The four hour journey from Wiltshire proved worthwhile for Marcus Foley when Kahlua Cove followed up her Barbury success by landing the Restricted in the hands of Sam Painting. It was a first visit to Wadebridge for both trainer and jockey.
"She'd want better ground than this," opined Marcus, who is aiming to qualify the mare for the Connolly's Red Mills final at Cheltenham. "She runs up quite light, so I'll give her a break now."
Marcus thinks highly of Kahlua Cove, but despite her December triumph he has still had no takers for the syndicate of owners he was hoping to form.
One intended Restricted runner who didn't make it to the track was Nobby Kivambo, whose transport broke down en route, unfortunately on a stretch of road with no turn-off for some miles. "We were past before we realised, but then again," grinned Marcus, tongue in cheek, "knowing what a danger he'd be we might have left him there anyway!"
The last-minute decision to declare Mioche d'Estruval for the Novice Riders' contest instead of the Open - "We knew we couldn't beat Southwestern," admitted trainer Ashley Farrant - paid off, Ben Robarts's French-bred putting his best foot forward to land the spoils under a fine ride from 17-year-old Kieron Edgar.
Kieron works for David Pipe, and it was Ashley, who himself was amateur at the Pipe yard, who gave the youngster his first Point-to-Point ride. Seven days earlier Kieron was seen to equally good effect when piloting Cool George to victory in an Exeter Bumper.
It was a fourth course success for Mioche d'Estruval, who has his quirks and is always accompanied to the start by his handler. "He runs according to which side of the bed he gets out of," was Ashley's comment.
Ashley was off after the meeting to relay the good news to his girlfriend Donna Kingdon. Donna is sadly suffering from an incurable illness, and is resident in a hospice.
Leanda Tickle, who works for trainer Nick Williams, took the Hunt race for the second successive year, this time on Total Containment, and in the process relegated her brother Joe to the runner-up spot. Leanda has her sights set on the area novice title, so is hoping that she may get offered a few more rides to help her on her way.
Total Containment is trained by Steve Heard for himself and Dannika Kent, and, said Steve, "He's a nightmare in the stable, and will have a go at you, but once out he's fine."
David Brace had forgone a trip to Hereford, where his Johnny Owen scored over hurdles, in favour of watching his four runners at Wadebridge, but none could manage to emulate the Rules performer. Ask The Thatcher and Son Of Swallow both finished second, Knight Blaze was third, and Khachaturian would have claimed a place in the Ladies' Open had he not fallen at the last. He and Jodie Hughes were happily unscathed.