A total of 60 runners lined up for the six races as the Tiverton Staghounds brought down the curtain for the Devon & Cornwall area for this truncated season at Bratton Down. With the closed doors now partly open, all 1,500 tickets had been sold, so the vibrant atmosphere of a crowd had at last begun a return to normality.
James King will become Tattersalls’ national champion point-to-point jockey for the first time this year when the season ends in Oxfordshire next weekend, and five of his 32 winners to date have come at the three late-season Bratton Down fixtures.
A double for King on Sunday was initiated when Los Alamos, in the colours of his uncle Jason Warner, followed up his recent course win in the Men’s Open. The new champion completed his double when Fran Nimmo saddled her 20th winner of the campaign in the 10-runner Totnes & Bridgetown Races Company Restricted.
Los Alamos is by Galileo and showed all the resolution of his illustrious sire by fending off the strong challenges of River Myth and Eric The Third up the punishing final climb. Jason Warner is the Tattersalls national leading owner this year, with 14 winners to date, and has the possibility of adding more to that tally at Kingston Blount on the final weekend.
Apart from his riding prowess, James King has also been busy as a trainer, saddling five winners from a handful of runners this year. He was in the limelight again as a rider, however, when the Fran Nimmo-trained Fan Club Aulmes landed the Restricted under a very confident ride. This £32,000 store had a couple of runs for Dan Skelton and was following up his Mollington maiden win for the Nimmo yard.
Darren Edwards secured his fourth Devon & Cornwall jockeys championship this year and was successful on his only ride of the day when Awesome Tunes beat the James King-ridden Largy Mountain (1-2 favourite) in the Exmoor Hay & Straw Ltd Intermediate. “He likes to go left-handed and hugs the bales on the bends,” remarked the jockey.
The winner was acquired from Ross Oliver and is now owned and trained by Ryan Chapman, who said, “We call him Elvis. He is a family horse, and anybody can ride him. I cantered him on the beach at Mawgan Porth yesterday. He must have good ground.”
The 11-year-old Moscow Prices took his career point-to-point tally into double figures with a typically game performance in the competitive Greenslade Taylor Hunt Ladies’ Open. Owned in partnership by his rider Lucy Mager and Kim Tripp, and trained at Weston-Super-Mare by his rider, Moscow Prices, like the Men’s Open winner Los Alamos, had returned from winning at the Exmoor meeting eight days ago. “I didn’t want to hit the front so early, but I could barely hold him, and he was hard to pull up afterwards,” commented the rider.
Martin (“Fly”) McIntyre came in for the winning ride on Dr Rhythm in the Winston Pincombe Land Rovers Hunt race as Josh Newman had not recovered from injuries sustained in a fall from that horse on this course last weekend. This time, however, the eight-year-old was foot perfect and had too much pace for Broughtons Rhythm in the closing stages. “He just needed a bit of help with his jumping and was absolutely cantering,” said the rider, acknowledging a fine training performance by Keith Cumings.
Bennys Miracle had very few friends in the betting ring, drifting out to 7-1 before the off, but that did not stop the lightly-raced seven-year-old from beating the front-running Mad For Action (Abigail Lewis) in the Riverside Caravan Park Open Maiden. Trained on the Quantocks by Teresa Clark for owners Mike and Naomi Roe, Bennys Miracle stormed up the final climb in the hands of Rob Hawker. “He is a better ground horse who could go summer jumping,” said the trainer, with the jockey adding, “He fell apart in the mud last time. I needed a lead because it is a long way up the hill.”
As the dark clouds rolled in after the final race, and a rainbow straddled the moor, the Devon & Cornwall jockeys awards were presented. Darren Edwards took the men’s title, with Chloe Emsley taking the lady riders’ award. Conor Houlihan strode away with the male novice prize and 17-year-old Charlotte Summersby won the female equivalent.