After weeks of torrential rain, the going was heavy for the Exeter event with the wintery weather persisting throughout the day. At almost a thousand feet above sea level, the picturesque Haldon Forest racecourse takes all the weather Dartmoor can throw at it.
From the first race it was clear that some surprises were in store with 8/1 shot Kalarika snatching victory from hot favourite Get Wishing, who came trailing in third place.
For race number two the Thatchers Gold Cup saw order restored with favourite Gonnabegood charging forward to first place after a restrained first half.
The highlight of day was no doubt Defi Du Seuil, surprise winner of the Heavitree Brewery Novices Chase. Jockey Barry Geraghty found some something in the reserve tank – a bolt of energy after the last fence, winning by around three lengths.
The horse had suffered two poor runs prior to returning with a glorious run to beat joint favourites Topofthegame and BlackOp.
Defi Du Seuil is owned by the legendary JP McManus; his racing manager Frank Berry said: “He probably got a fright at Cheltenham, looking at the way he jumped some of the fences there.
‘He was a bit careful in the first mile today, but he ended up doing it really nicely. It looked a good race on paper, maybe one or two didn’t perform, but you’d have to like the way he came home and the way he jumped the last four or five.
‘That was over two-three, but he wasn’t stopping – two and a half miles will be no problem. It’s a nice problem to have deciding what’s next, you could only be happy with him.”
The last surprise winner of the day was the aptly named Haldon Hill ridden by Harry Stock.
The 14/1 winner took a bold lead from early in the race, managing to hold on at the front until the very end as if fuelled by kryptonite.
The locally named horse must have resonated with the crowd with an extremely vocal minority cheering the horse on from the stands. Second place was Jasmin Des Bordes who made a commendable run at the last two fences but couldn’t quite catch Haldon Hill who chugged away until the very end.
The next Exeter meet is the Christmas Race event on the 20th December.