Children’s running races, pony races and horse races were the order of the day at Exeter on Tuesday, when the best was saved until last with the half-brother of Big Buck’s, More Buck’s, making a winning debut in the second division of the bumper.
Despite running green, he responded to jockey Harry Derham to win by a neck from Spring Wolf. Whether he is half as good as Big Buck’s remains to be seen, but he could do no more than win.
The feature race of the day was the Haulfryn Holidays Marathon Handicap Chase and, under a fine ride from Liam Treadwell, Upham Atom threw aside his younger rivals and, having been steadied approaching the final fence, produced an immaculate jump and kicked on to bypass Allthekingshorses and win by four lengths.
Nicknamed Monty at home, and known for biting in the stable, his owner-breeder-trainer Kate Buckett rides him every day, and was near to tears following the win.
“I can’t really believe that he’s won and it’s wonderful,” she said. “He’s a family favourite. As soon as you get him out of the yard, he tends to go everywhere flat out. We train him like a pointer and he does lots of different things on turf as we don’t have a gallop.”
A rest now beckons for the 11-year-old.
Richard Johnson scored his 150th win of the season after Revani won the South West Racing Club Handicap Hurdle by two lengths. Home bred by Sarah Faulks from Dulverton, Johnson made all on the Johnny Farrelly-trained seven-year-old.
Johnson had earlier scored on Saddlers Encore, who was given the verdict in a photo finish in the opening novices’ hurdle, having blundered at the last. The result gave trainer Philip Hobbs the first of the day’s milestones, having scored his 100th winner.
Owner Robert Gibb said he had been more hopeful his other horse, Jayandbee, would deliver in the Haulfryn Holidays Marathon Handicap Steeple Chase, but he finished third.
Join The Clan edged away from last year’s the City of Exeter Challenge Cup Handicap Hurdle winner Billy Dutton two out, but James Davies dug deep on the Chris Down-trained eight-year-old to win by a neck.
“He’s the type of horse that keeps giving more, although James said to me that the ground was quicker enough for him today. He has won his fair share of races and hopefully he will win some more,” said Down.
Luck played into the hands of the winner of the Dartmouth Term of 65, with Midnight Lira under James Best taking advantage of the last-fence fall of Gores Island. It was another home-bred winner for her owner, Brian Derrick.
“I raced her dam, Bally Lira, a number of times and she’s also the dam of Bally Legend, who runs at Cheltenham tomorrow,” said Derrick.
Richard Bandey saddled his first winner under Rules when Alskamatic won the Totnes and Brigetown Novices’ Hunter Chase with Clare Hart in the saddle.
Nick Williams’ Tea For Two was a long odds-on favourite to win the first division of the bumper, and Lizzy Kelly just got up on the five-year-old to win by a head.