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Gardners enjoy a fruitful start to new year at Exeter Races

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 02, 2013

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Lucy Gardner scored her first-ever double under rules at Exeter yesterday, when more than 4,000 people turned out to celebrate the New Year.

Storm Alert and Flying Award demonstrated the continued well-being of her mother Sue Gardner's team, which is trained just five minutes from the course, taking her tally to 16 for the season, four more than her previous best-ever total.

"It has been incredible and the horses are all so well at the moment. It couldn't be a better start to 2013 for us. We've had an incredible day," Gardner Snr said.

Storm Alert got the ball rolling in the Billy Williams Memorial Novices' Handicap Hurdle where he took up the running two flights from home, holding off the challenge of Ripoff, who could not quite get on terms with the winner up the run-in.

"He's a gutsy little horse. We bought him as a three-year-old after no one wanted him at the sales in Ireland as he's so small. Everyone loves him in the yard," said Gardner.

The Gardners doubled up in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase, with reformed character Flying Award taking up the lead approaching the last and winning by four lengths.

Gardner said: "When we first ran him as a maiden in a point-to-point at Upcott Cross, he had to be ridden for two hours in a hunting saddle in the car park, and then for another half an hour in a racing saddle. He went down to the start early and eventually pulled up, but Lucy said that day that he'd given her a really good feeling."

The Tom George-trained Big Society was a warm favourite to win the thepeninn.co.uk National Hunt Novices' Hurdle which opened the card. The seven-year-old duly took up the running two out and won by two and a half lengths from Phone Home.

Xaarcet scored his first-ever success in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle, getting his nose in front at the last and staying on up the run-in to get the better of Master Benjamin by two lengths.

Winning owner Tom Chadney said of the Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old: "He was slow to start but he's learning the game now.

"He was a bit unlucky to come up against Home Run last time. He'll eventually jump a fence, although we'll have a lot of fun with him over hurdles this season."

David Pipe ended the day with three more winners, after his double at Musselburgh, with Buddy Bolero winning the Royal Castle Hotel Beginners' Steeple Chase. The seven-year-old progressed nicely last season over hurdles and is expected to improve again.

The Victor Dartnall-trained Ambion Wood had started the race favourite, but finished a tired fifth.

Ruby Walsh was on board odds-on favourite Hawkes Point in the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Novices' Chase and the eight-year-old duly delivered, staying on well up the run-in to score by two and a quarter of a length.

A bumper concluded the card, and the Brendan Powell-trained Guanciale, ridden by his son Brendan, was a four-lengths winner from Mighty Mobb.

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