The 2017/2018 season ended on a high note for West Midland qualified horses who chalked up two winners at the final fixture of what has been a very trying season.
With firm ground prevalent at the Torrington Farmers fixture at Umberleigh, it was hard to believe wet weather reeked havoc with fixtures earlier in the year.
Many local enthusiasts made their annual pilgrimage to the North Devon coast and did not have to wait long for their first winner when Big Man Doe obliged under Zac Baker.
The Men’s Open saw the Martin Wanless trained runner backed into favouritism and he set the pace from the start and was obviously relishing the conditions.
Mr Sawyer hit the front at the open ditch and led the field up the final hill, but that effort meant he stopped quickly at the second from home. Zac Baker seized back the initiative and was 15-lengths clear at the post.
Big Man Doe and Zac Baker fly the last to land the Mens Open
Wanless reported later “He came from Ireland and will now be turned away for the summer with the aim of Pointing again next year. He needs this ground he won’t go on the soft”.
The last few weeks of the season have provided rich pickings for Julie Mansell’s Hasfield stable and after Joey Kangaroo had won so convincingly at Edgcote connections decided it was worthwhile making the long journey to Devon.
The local bookmakers were in a generous mood as the Ledbury qualified runner opened at 2-1 but punters seized on these odds and backed Joey Kangaroo into 4/6 on favourite for the four runner Intermediate.
Mansell was content to let others cut out the donkey work but began a forward move up the final hill and caught and then passed the long time leader Kinlochspelve at the second from home.
The evergreen Dave Mansell steers Joey Kangaroo to victory at Umberleigh
Joey Kangaroo gained the inside berth around the final bend and held a narrow advantage at the last but quickened clear of his rival on the run to the judge.
Mansell finished the season by clocking up his 202nd winner and like stablemate Findlays Find, patience has proved the key to this horses success. “We bought him out of Ascot sales, have had a few issues with him and he has needed time to mature”.
The Ladies Open provided a winner opportunity for 19-year-old Alice Stevens and she grabbed it with both hands. She started the afternoon as joint leader with Isabel Williams in the Fullers National Novice Ladies Title, and she set out to make every post a winning one on Rendezvous Peak.
The partnership succeeded in doing so making all the running never being headed which resulted in a 6-lengths win and also the title.
Alice Stevens and Rendezvous Peak are well clear at the last
Stevens holds a Croome and West Warwickshire riders certificate had to wait until early April before she rode her first winner of the season. She enjoyed a purple patch after her Knightwick success and rode 8 winners in the last 8 weeks of the season.
Alice is all smiles after landing the Fullers Title
“I cannot believe it but after Heated Debate won at Cold Harbour, Fran said ‘Let’s give the novice title a go’.