Tuesday, 19th Mar 2019


Didmarton’s meeting on Saturday afternoon fared better than most rearranged fixtures with a healthy crowd and plenty of runners.

Charlie Dando literally had to pick himself up off the floor following a bone shacking fall by Double Cool in the Members before claiming victory on Carrig Dubh in the Intermediate 35 minutes later.

The family have always had a close association with this meeting so while Dando continued his re-couperation from last year’s horrific shooting accident, his girlfriend Brooke Gardener-Wollen took over the training responsibilities for the 8-year-old at their Little Sodbury stables.

Carrig Dubh leads the field around the final bend in the Intermediate

The Well Road set a strong pace, but Dando had his mount perfectly placed throughout this contest and took over the leader’s baton as The Well Road dropped off the pace. They drew clear of their rivals around the final bend and were able to maintain their advantage all the way to the line.

Over the last safely and on their way to victory

The riders father David said as the horse was being unsaddled “It’s unbelievable and it is all down to Brooke who has done all the work with him. He is not the best of jumpers but we schooled him recently over Grant Cann’s gallops near Bath Racecourse. We did not expect that as we thought he would not like the ground.

Winning trainer Brooke Gardener-Wollen and Charlie Dando pick up their prizes

The jockey went to the say “That is a little bit of history as far as we are concerned. That’s the first time the Dando colours have passed the post in front at Didmarton, and a first training success for Brooke”.

Earlier in the afternoon, Sylvia and Richard Francome’s Punter Friendly had taken the Members Race for a second year under Josh Newman.

Always prominent the favourite went to the front at the 12th and despite the best efforts of their rivals they were never able to get him out of his comfort zone. Cecile de Volonges tried to make a race of it but was always fighting a losing battle and the race was in Punter Friendly’s pocket over the final two fences.

Punter Friendly is well clear of Cecille De Volanges as they race towards the winning post – Winning Jockey chatting to Ed Walker and Sylvia Francome in the winners enclosure

The PPORA Club Members race saw an impressive Point-to-Point debut for the Ed Walker trained Different Gravey. The 8-year-old won 5 races earlier in his career but success had eluded him recently despite being in some top-class stables.

The son of High Chaparral started favourite for the 6-runner contest and Will Biddick was content to bide his time until they swept into a clear lead running down into the dip for the final time. They looked set for an easy win as their market rival Chasforgold was still several lengths adrift at this point.

On the run to the second last, Sam Jukes suddenly got a response from Chasforgold. This resulted in a significant reduction in the leader’s advantage and with the favourite having trouble negotiating the final bend Jukes made an audacious move up on the favourites inner.

Chasforgold sneaks through on Different Gravey inner on the final bend but it was all level again at the last

That looked likely to tip the scales in their favour, but Biddick soon had his mount back on an even keel and the horse quickened impressively on the flat to win by 4-lengths.

The winning owner Richard Kelvin Hughes is a well-known N.H. owner/breeder under his Trull House Stud banner and trainer Ed Walker said later “It is likely the horse will return to Rules at some time in the future. That will have done him a lot of good. He jumped well and had to fight for his victory which was good to see and just what we wanted to boost his confidence. He is such a classy horse”.

Long distance travellers won the remaining races with the Glamorgan qualified Nuevo Molino winning the Restricted in the hands of Bradley Gibbs after they took advantage of a last fence mistake by Delkantra.

Delkantra is clear of Nuevo Molino as they turn for home

The latter was 2-lengths clear at the time but Bradley Gibbs’s mount showed both strength and determination and passed their tiring rivals in the final 50 yards to score by 2-lengths.

The 5-runner Conditions Maiden provided one of the finishes of the day. After the first fence departure of Linkbox Lenny the lead changed several times before Basher Brian cracked at the 13th and then Boethius was unable to maintain contact with the leaders.

Shaman du Berlais held a narrow advantage when he made a horrendous error at the 16th but he was soon back on level terms and started a protracted battle with Billygwyn Too over the second last and around the final bend.

They were inseparable at the final obstacle but this time it was Billygwyn Too’s mistake that was likely to dictate the outcome of the race. Jockey Tommie O’Brien performed miracles to maintain the partnership but they had lost ground at a vital stage of the race.

Sit tight! – Tommie O’Brien survived this mistake and went on to claim victory

They started off down the run in with a 2-length deficit but O’Brien soon had his mount back on an even keel and they sprinted past their rival to prevail by a couple of lengths.

Thomasina Eyston had ridden just one winner prior to Saturday afternoon but ended up the meeting with the riding honours following her successes on Skylander in the Novice and Veteran Riders and on Missyladie who completed a double for Sam Holdsworth’s Dartmoor yard in the concluding Maiden.

Skylander had the race in his pocket with three fences to jump, while Missyladie followed up two second places with a wide margin win in the final race.

Skylander is clear at the last in the Novice Riders – Thomasina Eyston picks up the Elm School Novice Riders Award from Patrick Bailey


1ST         PUNTER FRIENDLY                       J NEWMAN                        5-4 FAV


3RD         COME ON YOU


1ST         CARRIG DUBH                                 C DANDO                           16-1




1ST         DIFFERENT GRAVEY                    W BIDDICK                       5-4 FAV




1ST         SKYLANDER                                    MISS T EYSTON               9-4




1ST         NUEVO MOLINO                             B GIBBS                             7-2


3RD         MAX O


1ST         BILLYGWYN TOO                           T O’BRIEN                         3-1


3RD         BOETHIUS


1ST         MISSLYLADIE                                 MISS T EYSTON               4-1

2ND         WHIN PARK



The Hampshire Hunt’s meeting at Hackwood Park proved a happy hunting ground for our competitors on Sunday afternoon with successes in four races and it could have been more!

League of his Own went to the front at the start of the 2-1/2 mile Restricted and soon established a clear lead while his rivals seemed content no doubt reasoning he would not be able to maintain such a strong gallop.

Not a rival in sight as League of his Own takes one of the fences at Hackwood Park

The leader was showing no signs of stopping down the back straight and it was at this point the chasing pack began to realise they may have given League of his Own too much rope.

Straightening up for the judge Dans Wee Man and Double You Be were beginning to make inroads but it all looked too little too late until League of his Own’s stride began to shorten.

Guy Disney and Dans Wee Man got to within 3-lengths at the last, but they were unable to continue with that effort, whereas James King and Double You Be began a sustained run that would have allowed them to overhaul their rivals with another 20 yards to run but unfortunately for them the winning post came just in time to save the leaders bacon. At a subsequent Stewards Enquiry the winning rider Byron Moorcroft was fined £100 for using his whip with excessive frequency over the final two fences.

Having suffered a narrow defeat in the first race, Hindlip trainer Martin Weston was able to claim his first victory of the day following Arthurs Secret’s success in the Mixed Open under Abbi Banks.

Abbi Banks and Arthurs Secret jump one of the early fences ahead of Mon Parrain and Starkie

The odds-on favourite jumped brilliantly at times but was also sketchy at several fences including the 15th, where a mistake caused the rider to lose her reins but the horses momentum was unaffected and Miss Banks retrieval efforts were almost instantaneous.

Starkie was close enough if good enough but his effort began to peter out between the final two fences and the favourite then showed his class by staying on strongly to prevail by 6-lengths.

Questioned about the horse’s performance winning owner Christine Banks explained “It was a bit soft for him today and he ran a little free.”

Asked about the horses recent run behind Volnay de Thaix at Brocklesby Park and her opinion on the likely outcome of that race she said “I do not know if he would have won but we would have given the favourite a good fight”.

Christine and Abbi Banks picking up the silverware

Future options are likely to be course and ground dependent with the Skinners Final as a possible option “That was the plan last year but he ran badly at Chaddesley and was all wrong afterwards”.

Templebraden returned to the winner’s enclosure after an easy win in the Conditions under Zac Baker. The John Bryan trained 11-year-old has been competing in Open company prior to this event, and as is normal he was bustled along to stay in touch with the leaders at halfway.

Templebraden has Kilmacallogue Bay in his sights down the back straight

That elicited a quick response and he was cantering on the heels of the leaders two fences later with his rider oozing confidence before they went into a clear lead entering the home straight.  Kilmacallogue Bay’s challenge was soon beaten off and Templebraden ploughed through the testing conditions to win by a distance.

Winning owner Sarah Oliver (above) was on hand to greet her winner “He deserved that, he has run in some hot Opens this season and that will be great for his confidence. We decided he is better going left handed and is better with some cut in the ground”.

The Weston family went onto the complete a double in the 3-mile Maiden where the finish involved 3 West Midland qualified horses.

Abbi Banks and Round Robin were at the head of affairs from the start and their gallop had some rivals toiling during the second circuit. James King always had Cook the Books in close touch and they began to improve as they raced towards the 17th.

Light on the Mountain held a narrow lead before departing at that obstacle and there were hopes that Round Robin’s front running tactics might prevail but James King and Cook the Books found that little bit extra in the closing stages to grab the spoils close home.

Cook the Books and James King (right of picture) storm past Round Robin to land the spoils in the Maiden

Alex Edwards continues to set a strong pace in the Jockeys Championship but with over half the season remaining a serious challenger has yet to emerge from the chasing pack. However, they will need plenty of ammunition while the Rowley stable continues to churn out the winners.

The Morville yard struck in the first race at the Flint & Denbigh fixture at Bangor-on-Dee when Salvatore scored a 6-length success over Generation Gap in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden and that started Edwards on his winning ways.

The Rowley/Edwards axis then suffered a setback when the odds on favourite Grandturgeon was surprisingly beaten when trying to give 10 lbs to Lotus Pond in the Mixed Open.

The recent Chaddesley winner Optimised showed that victory was no fluke by justifying strong market support in the Restricted to get Rowley and Edwards back on the winning trail. Given the form on the stable throughout the afternoon it came as somewhat of a surprise that their representative Stoleaway did not start favourite by competing the Edwards treble in the Conditions. The winner led at the last but was all out to hold Owen Glendower’s challenge on the flat.

There was one local success during the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale meeting at Charlton Horethorne and this came after Toby Maguire’s 2-length success in the Open Maiden. This one carries the colours of Charles Levinson and Alexia Robinson? Who have enjoyed so much success with Premier Portrait.

Bound for Glory finished third in the Ladies Open while Rye Cross found the challenge of giving 7lb to the winners and a stone to the second beyond him in the Mens Open.

The previous day the Rob Sealey owned and Worcestershire qualified Mistercobar was left in splendid isolation to pick up the prize money for the 2-1/2 Mile Maiden during Saturdays meeting at Kingston Blount.

Photo’s Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell



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