Divine deja vu
There was a strong sense of déjà vu at Black Forest Lodge this week, as two former winners at the Devon track repeated their feat during Sunday's rescheduled Black Forest Club meeting.
- Related Content
Hugh Wilson's Divine Intavention posted back to back titles in the Mixed Open under regular rider Mark Wall, holding on to a two length lead over Princeful, a former Rules runner making his debut between the flags, with Cheltenham Festival runner-up Faasel back in third. One difference this time around however was the handler responsible for the eight-year-old's performance, and that was Fran Moller, who has recently taken over the training of Wilson's runners from his Barbury yard.
The winner may not have come as a surprise, given the odds-on SP awarded to him by the bookmakers, but a less expected sight was that of Findlay's Find pulling up three from home. It may not be wise to make too much of the former champion's lacklustre performance however, given that Paul and Myfanwy Miles's prolific Pointer has never before won first time out, nor been seen pre-Christmas.
Another partnership of old and new were seen in the Club Members race for Novice Riders where Timeshift, winner of the Restricted on this card in 2010, gave an excellent account of himself under first-timer Charlie Hammond to keep Oakfield Legend and Conor Flint at bay by three and a half lengths.
Hammond, son of trainers Mike and Zoe, has aspirations of turning conditional further down the line, and in addition to a number of pony racing successes, is certainly treading the right path.
Filling the frame was another pair of Pointing newcomers, in the shape of former Tim Vaughan inmate Hazeldene and owner/trainer/rider Charlie Deutsch. The 16-year-old's first ride between the flags - though eye-catching - may not quite have been a winning one, but Deutsch quickly got a mark on the board following his debut under Rules at Folkestone earlier this week.
Two years on from Timeshift's last victory here, it was the turn of Molland Gayle to land the Restricted, and Ian Chanin's mount did so in a fashion to suggest her Maiden win at Bratton Down was no fluke, despite being at the 15th time of asking. Seemingly all has now clicked into place for the Dr Massini mare, as suggested when holding on well to deny evens favourite Santiago Sun, a recent Brightwells purchase for the Bradley Partnership, by two and a half lengths, the pair with 15 lengths in hand over third-placed Big Time Ben.
A less fortuitous result in the race was that of Buried Gold who, after being backed in from 8-1 to 3-1, refused to race, as did Our Joe, making his British debut under Nico de Boinville.
The card was book-ended with two Maidens, the first a 2m4f event for four and five-year-olds won by The Wealerdealer. A second season Pointer, Geoffrey Brown's five-year-old didn't get off to the best of starts when unseating approaching the penultimate on his debut, before falling when in the lead on his next outing. Sunday went exactly to plan for both horse and connections however, giving reigning Champion Will Biddick the perfect start to his title defence.
Joe The Trucker landed the afternoon's final race, a 3m Open Maiden, and in doing so completed a clean sweep for Irish-breds. In the closest finish of the day, Don Constable's runner held on by half a length under Tom David from Billy Congo and Conor Flint. Joint favourites Degenerate and Old Shyan missed out on a place in the frame when filling fourth and fifth respectively, though the former finished only three quarters of a length adrift of Quotation Mark.
All in all an afternoon of excellent racing was enjoyed at the second attempt. The day's other shceduled fixture at Whitfield may not now be held until February, but with the Point-to-Point Owners' and Riders' Club at Barbury Castle and the Cornwall Hunt Club at Wadebridge due on Sunday, there's still plenty of action between the flags ahead.