At the start of the season Point-to-Point enthusiasts normally endure wind, rain and cold temperatures or a combination of all three but none of these conditions were in evidence when Buckfastleigh staged the opening meeting of the season on Sunday afternoon.
Several horses made the long journey down from the West Midlands and performed well but the Conditions Race had a significant interest to racegoers from our area.
The winner was qualified with the Tiverton and that would not normally attract our interest, but further investigation revealed the owners were the Smith-Maxwell whose name has been synonymous with West Midland pointing for several decades.
Successes have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but that all changed with Blackwater Bramble’s narrow win. The 7-year-old son of Kings Theatre had been successful in an Irish maiden before winning a Restricted and Intermediate for Paul Barber and David Martin.
He was dIspatched to Ascot Sales over the summer, where he was picked up cheaply by West Buckland Bloodstock and on this evidence, connections have picked up a bargain.
That enterprise is synonymous with trainer Alex Dunn, who trains the horse for her mother Katherine and sister Roz, while the horse was guided to victory by her brother RAU based student John.
Blackwater Bramble (green) is up with the leaders at halfway
Confidently ridden from the start, Smith-Maxwell was content to track the pace making Pinkneys Prince until sending his mount to the front turning back towards home. Millie Wonnacott and Heaney were quick to respond and these two had a protracted battle on the final climb and it was impossible to separate them at the last.
John Smith-Maxwell drives the winner out on the flat
With the advantage of the running rail the winner ran on gamely to score a narrow success. Smith-Maxwell confided to the family that “I am pretty sure I won” but it took several minutes before the result was confirmed and connections could start to celebrate.
All smiles in the winners enclosure after Blackwater Bramble’s success
Dymock trainer Sam Jukes took two horses down to Buckfastleigh but was out of luck with both, although Showmetheway put up a bold showing in the 2-1/2-mile Maiden.
Showmetheway (pink) leads the field before the final circuit
Clive Bennetts home bred gelding disputed the lead with Skinflint going out onto the final circuit, but neither horse was able to shake off the attentions of newcomer Tide Times. Showmetheway weakened after 2 out which left to the other two to fight out the finish.
Showmetheway drops back at the leaders fight out the finish
It transpired that Showmetheway received a bad cut during the race which could not be resolved on the racecourse so a trip to the trainer’s local vet was required on the way home.
Will Gaskins TB Broke Her ran a promising race in the Mixed Open. Hannah Lewis had the 8-year-old mare on the heels of the leaders throughout and moved up menacingly along the back straight, but they could never get within striking distance of Navanman and Prince Mahler and finished 6-lengths and a length and a half behind the winner.
TB Broke Her (blue colours) is on the heels of the leaders as they start out on their final circuit and stays on doggedly to claim third place
All 6 entries were declared for the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate where the Nicky Sheppard trained Ballycahane faced a difficult task conceding loads of weight to all of his rivals. Milo Herbert had him in a prominent position throughout but they could only stay on a one pace during the final half mile and had to settle for an honourable third.
Leading West Midland rider Tommie O’Brien did not take long to open his account teaming up with trainer Joe O’Shea to take the Maiden with Road to Rome who was the subject of significant late support.
Ridden with great confidence Road to Rome was always in the leading pair and went clear with their chief market rival Banco de Logos during the final circuit. The winner began to assert on the climb into the home straight and won easily and justifying the 250 mile plus journey from his Cheshire base.
Tommie O’Brien scores an easy win on Road to Rome
1ST TIDE TIMES J BAMENT 7-1
1ST BLACKWATER BRAMBLE J SMITH MAXWELL 3-1
3RD HORWOOD LAD
1ST DRUID SPITFIRE T CHANIN 5-1
1ST NAVANMAN B CARVER 7-4
2ND PRINCE MAHLER
3RD TB BROKE HER
1ST ROAD TO ROME T O’BRIEN 4-6
2ND BANCO DE LOGOS
1ST BROADCLYST T CHANIN 6-4
2ND POINTVIEW GALE