It may have been bitterly cold but the sun shone and there was plenty for punters to cheer about, including a David Pipe double, at Taunton's pre-Chrismas meeting yesterday.
In the opener, the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle race over two miles three and a half furlongs, it was the Venetia Williams-trained Duaiseoir a 14-1 shot, ridden by Aidan Coleman, and wearing blinkers for the first time, who led coming into the final flight who ran out the winner by seven lengths, ahead of second placed Johnny Red (11-2), from the Robert Walford yard.
The second race, the Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Handicap Hurdle, over three miles and half a furlong saw Okafranca (9-2) from Jim Old's stable make it back to back wins at Taunton even though he was carrying 9lb extra this time.
The eventual winner had a scare on the run-in when Fortuna Rose (7-1) briefly snatched the lead but the Old horse picked it up again immediately to cross the line one and a half lengths ahead, with Elegant Olive (14-1), ridden by Hadden Frost, finishing third.
In the Remembering Victor Thorne Novices' Limited Handicap Steeple Chase it was Carrigmorna King, ridden by Richard Johnson for Philip Hobbs, and Changing Times (11-4 favourite), under Sam Twiston-Davies for his father Nigel, who made the running from the start.
As the race unfolded they were joined by Rajdhani Express, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen, and the Paul Nicholls-trained Jump City, but three from home Rajdhani Express fell which enabled Changing Times to grab the lead and cross the line seven lengths clear of Caroline Keevil's Bally Legend, who went off at 11-2.
The Alan King-trained Willoughby Hedge started as the 7-4 favourite in the Set Square Recruitment Novices' Handicap Hurdle over three miles and half a furlong, but it was Gas Line Boy, ridden by Johnson for Hobbs, who led for much of the way.
Coming into the final bend Buck's Bond, a 10-1 shot trained by Nicholls with Ryan Mahon on top, took the lead and despite being chased to the line by Jeremy Scott's Alberobello (16-1) held on to win by a neck, with Big Jer third at 10-1.
Pipe claimed his first winner when Home Run, the 5-2 favourite under 10lb claimer Kieron Edgar ran out the winner of the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Handicap Hurdle race over two miles and a furlong, by six lengths from Cruise in Style a 11-2 shot trained locally at Spaxton by Kevin Bishop, while Crediton-based Karen George's Gizzit was third at 14-1.
In the second chase of the day, the Stables Business Park Clients Day Out Handicap over two miles and half a furlong, it was the Nicholls-trained Elenika that made much of the running but 2-1 favourite Marshal Zhukov, ridden by Joe Tizzard that won, from Ciceron (7-2) under Aidan Coleman.
Pipe notched up his second winner when favourite Doctor Harper (2-1) won the Follow Taunton Racecourse on Facebook Newcomers Open National Hunt Flat race over two miles one, from August Hill a 33-1 outsider ridden by Tom O'Brien for Hobbs, who also trained the third horse Western Jo (8-1).
Taunton race again on Sunday, December 30 when the first of the seven-race card gets under way at 12.40pm. Tickets can be booked at discounted prices up to 48 hours in adsvance by visiting www.taunton racecourse.co.uk or for details call 01823 337172.