Excellent evening at races kicked off weekend for sports fans

Jockey Bryony Frost with dad Jimmy 

Jockey Bryony Frost with dad Jimmy - Credit: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

All was set for a perfect weekend for those of us interested in both horse racing and football.

Newton Abbot races on Friday evening, Torquay United in a play-off semi-final on Saturday and England's opening fixture in the delayed Euro 2020 on Sunday was a mouth-watering prospect.

In all cases, the events had to take place under the restrictions of the pandemic.

The races were restricted to only 40 hospitality places, 350 members of the paying public and a restricted number of owners and trainers.

It was incredibly frustrating for Pat Masterson and his team on what would under normal circumstances have been a bumper crowd in the sun.

As always, the course did its best to look after those who could attend but now has to face an extended period of restrictions with the delay in 'Freedom Day' as the Delta variant spreads more widely.

The racing itself provided victories for local pair jockey Bryony Frost and trainer Chris Honour.

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The former, who was heading straight to Stanstead after racing for a week's break in Greece, had a very comfortable success on Kilmington Rose in the opening event and although taking a fall later in the card, was in good spirits as she looked forward to indulging her passion in ancient history in Athens.

Jockeys rarely get a break and this one has been well earned.

Chris was successful with Shortcross Storm, who provided a comfortable win for his new owners under rapidly developing conditional jockey Bryan Carver.

Chris, who is looking forward to introducing all-weather gallops to training facilities near Ashburton, continues to find winners in this challenging environment.

The meeting also featured the return of Harry Cobden having been out injured since fracturing his cheek bone in a nasty fall at the Grand National meeting in April.

Although unsuccessful on Friday, he quickly rectified that with a win at Worcester on Saturday.

Harry will need to be quick of the mark on his return to keep pace with the other Harry,  champion jockey Skelton, who has started this season as he finished last.

Not only did he win the main event at Newton on Friday on Hatcher, trained by his brother Dan, but he also secured a double at Worcester.

The bookies were back on Friday night and course regular Dax Oliver reported business as brisk in spite of the crowd restrictions.

Dax, like all the bookmakers, will have been pleased with the surprise victory of Holderday Ridge in the last who at 25/1 surprised rivals from bigger stables.

All in all, with an excellent evening's entertainment followed by the gripping Torquay United victory and a good start for England, this weekend in the sunshine did feel a long way away from the lockdown gloom of January and February.