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Minehead and WS Report

Article 13th May 2024 Wincanton

By Robert Bracher

Following a rare and beautiful display from the Aurora Borealis overnight across Exmoor, the picturesque course at Holnicote seemed determined to continue this theme. Bathed in glorious sunshine, punters and families and even a 30 plus French contingent from Longny-au-Perche in Normandy, arrived en masse to enjoy some excellent racing with over 50 runners resulting in first time wins for two jockeys, Ashley Dascombe and Ollie Chamings, winners for National title contenders, James King and Izzie Marshall, and a training double for Warwickshire-based Julie Wadland while there was plenty of value to be had with only one favourite obliging all day.

Ashley Dascombe got a huge reception returning to the winner’s enclosure on Canastero after getting the better of Will Biddick and Beau du Brizais to take the Members race by nearly two lengths.  With the six runners tightly grouped, Ashley stalked the odds-on favourite in a bid to turn the tables having finished third to him last year. Hitting the front with two to jump, the new application of blinkers to Canastero seemed to galvanise improvement and although Beau du Brizais tried hard to rally, they held on for a popular local win.  For trainer Chrissie Gray, this was even more special as it was a birthday winner and her husband Carroll said “this is all down to Ashley who was adamant that he needed blinkers and it’s paid off.”  Nineteen year old Ashley, who comes from Porlock, rides out for several trainers and acquired Canastero from Philip Hobbs and Johnson White, saying “I worked at the yard and Johnson suggested he would be the perfect horse for me to point so I am hugely grateful to him.”

The Novice Riders race can often throw up a surprise and when Westhill who had been errant throughout the race unseated at the last, jockey Ollie Chamings capitalised on his good fortune to record a first victory and realise his ambition, to ride a winner which his dad, Nigel had never done.  Twenty-one year old Ollie is currently at University on his placement year with Symonds & Sampson in Dorchester and rides out for trainer Hannah Clarke.  A nephew of NH trainer, Patrick Chamings, whom he also rides out for when needed, Ollie explained “we bought the horse privately as he was a good schoolmaster and I’ve been placed on him a few times.  He absolutely winged the last when I asked him and I think he still would have beaten the horse that unseated as he was going the better.”

Trainer Julie Wadland was saddling her 6th winner of the season when Lagan Valley took the Mixed Open in a close finish which went to the judge as he and favourite, Ninth Wave flashed past the post together.  With Izzie Marshall determinedly making a bid for the National Lady Jockeys Championship, they were level over the last and the 3lbs he received from the runner-up may have made the difference as the distance was given as a short-head.  Afterwards Izzie said “ I really think the lighter weight helped him as had been lumping round a lot more recently but he also loved the quicker ground here and really bounced off it.”

Julie’s second winner came in the penultimate, the Restricted, when her mare, Bushtucker Park benefitted from the lightning-quick pace set by long-time leader, Myunclecharlie, who was 20 lengths clear at one stage, and she was the only one who could land a blow under James King.  James closed the leader down with 4 fences to jump and slipped the remainder of the field to coast home by 25 lengths and record the easiest win of the day.  Owner Jo Mann who was here to greet her winner with husband Richard explained “We bought him from an advert on Facebook and James used to ride him at Olly Murphy’s. I had always wanted one by Walk in the Park and just fell in love with her.”

Cameron Johnstone-Baker was riding his second career winner when taking the Conditions race on his family-owned Ocean Drifter who was making his pointing debut.  A winner of a point in Ireland, he then went on to win over hurdles for Oliver Sherwood for whom Cameron worked for two "amazing” years. After some time on the side-lines, he was given to Cameron at the start of the year and he was quick to express his thanks to former owners, Tim Syder, Dominic Burke and trainer Oliver Sherwood.  Cameron who is now based with Robbie Llewellyn said “he gave me the most amazing feel out there. He jumped amazingly and I managed to fill his lungs up when needed and as I knew he’d stay well, it was his race to lose.”

Trainer Harry Ryall was busy calculating points in the paddock as he welcomed Scoresby back in after the last race, an Intermediate. Currently vying with Julie Wadland for the Wessex smaller trainer’s title, this was a welcome winner for the team and their sixth within the Area this season and there is now half a point between the two.  Scoresby has now contributed twice to that total following wins at Milborne St Andrew and here for his emotional owner Bob Butler who could hardly speak in the winner’s enclosure.  Rob David rode a patient race on the winner, quietly biding his time at the rear of the field before cruising into the lead after a good jump at the open ditch.  Rob explained, “I had so much horse underneath me and I really hit the front too soon. He’s done really well here to carry so much weight as he’s not the biggest,” while Harry confirmed that his next target would be the two mile Hunter Chase at Stratford as he felt the track would suit him well.

A horse that would soon be heading off to the sales was Maiden winner, Jimmy Hurdstrom trained by Eamonn O’Donnabhain, head lad for Tom Lacey. A nicely-bred son of Order of St George, he was bought at the Landrover Sale and would now go to Doncaster to be sold. Jockey Sean O’Connor, who was riding his second winner in a week for Eamonn said afterwards, “He’s got some engine on him!” This looked like a fair maiden as 14 went to post in surely one of the biggest fields Holnicote has seen for some years and credit should go to the team behind the ground including Johnson White, Jeremy Scott and Mike Harding.

The racing had been preceded by a Charity race which was won in convincing fashion by Emma Landau on The Raven’s Return. Emma whose chosen charity was the Injured Jockeys Fund was herself no stranger to the winner’s enclosure having ridden 39 winners and her experience showed.  Husband Guy Landau explained, “The horse who daughter Molly has won twice on over hurdles, has had 18 months off and will now go back into training with Chris Gordon.” Emma rides out locally for the Hobbs/White yard and was torn between riding here and taking her favourite, Ballee to Haydock for the 3.15.




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