Anna Pycroft rode her first winner when former top chaser Idle Talk fought back to deny Martin Pitchwood (Alice Mills) in Sunday’s Taunton Vale Harriers Ladies Open at Kingston St Mary. Idle Talk contested big races such as the Cheltenham and Hennessy Gold Cups under Rules, finished second in the Royal & Sun Alliance Chase and fourth in the Scottish National. He completed the Grand National course on two occasions. “I got him privately from Sian McCain after seeing an advertisement on the Jumping For Fun point-to-point website”, said Anna, who is in her third season with the horse’s trainer, Marie McGuinness. “Marie had previously seen him at Doncaster Sales and recommended him to me as an ideal schoolmaster”. Anna received the Joseph Coate Memorial Trophy (for the day’s best performance by a novice rider) for her efforts.

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The Coate family – Michael, Anthea and Natasha – had earlier enjoyed a popular success with Over The Creek, who finished alone under Jo Buck in the hunt race. Jo is now on the six-winner mark and shares the lead in the National Ladies Championship table.

Bishops Nympton trainer Keith Cumings landed a double with Gone That Way (2m-4f Maiden) and Certain Flight (Confined). The former was prominent throughout and edged out Themanfromcork (Will Biddick) after the pair had jumped the last upsides. “We bought him three years ago at the Irish Derby Sales”, explained Keith. “Credit to [jockey] Josh [Guerriero], who has given him a lovely ride and done lots of work with him, and to Will, who has also worked him but was not available today”. Certain Flight benefited from the departure of last fence leader Pertinent after the pair had duelled throughout the final circuit. “They all count”, smiled jockey Michael Miller, adding that Certain Flight would be better suited by a faster surface.

Tres Bien rewarded “outsider of three” backers by fighting back to deny odds-on Paddy The Piper in the men’s open. “That was another good ride as Tres Bien is not easy”, smiled trainer Nick Taylor, stepfather of jockey Josh Newman. The Cotley hunt race and the Eggesford Devon National 4-mile Mixed Open are on the agenda.

Paddy The Piper’s rider Michael Heard went one better aboard commentator’s nightmare Googoobarabajagal in the Restricted. “A gutsy horse, not too big, and one who doesn’t get his feet stuck in tacky ground”, summed up Michael’s father John, who trains the six-year-old for himself and his father, Ken.

Micheal Nolan, who pipped Michael Heard for last season’s National Novices crown, was in the winners enclosure after Great Tusker, owned and trained by his bosses, Philip and Sarah Hobbs, had taken the 3-mile maiden. “That’s our second winner of the season as we’re two of the nuts in the ‘KP and the Nuts Racing Club’ who won with Commander Kev at Charing in January”, smiled Sarah. “They stopped in front of him today, so Great Tusker has taken it up earlier than we planned, but he lasted home ok”.

Diptford Moonwalker and 12-year-old William Cox took the 13.2hh Pony Race, while Megan Nicholls landed the 14.2hh contest aboard Cool Runner.

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