Racing in the wake of Cheltenham

Race Winner, Camprond ridden by Richard Johnson (L) races up the straight alongside Defining Battle

Race Winner, Camprond ridden by Richard Johnson (L) races up the straight alongside Defining Battle ridden by Harry Skelton (R). - RACE 1 - 2:12 Taunton - Game And Wildlife Conservation Trust Maiden Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 4) at Taunton Racecourse, Taunton, Somerset, England - PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

After the excitement of Cheltenham, National Hunt Racing always has a lull.  
It is normally a quiet three weeks before the excitement picks up again with the Grand National meeting at Aintree.  
In the South-West last week, Taunton staged another behind-closed-doors meeting. The racecourse has been one of many sporting facilities used as a vaccine centre. It will certainly hope that the provision of that vital community service will be a key factor in enabling crowds to return to future meetings. 
It was a successful meeting for two Somerset stables. Philip Hobbs, who trains at the Sandhill Stables close to Minehead, was successful with Camprond, ridden by Richard Johnson in the first race of the day.  
Jeremy Scott, who trains at Higher Holsworthy farm above Wimblehall Lake, was successful with Tactical Manoeuvre in the penultimate race on the card. Jeremy engaged Harry Skelton to ride, and he continued with intense zest, his drive to reach the top of the Jockeys Championship. 
This weekend sees Newton Abbot's first meeting of the season. Easter Saturday normally plays to a bumper crowd and has some very competitive racing to start the season.  
Owners will be allowed back with the loosening of the lockdown rules but, sadly, the regular line of racegoers walking from the train station or the pubs of the town centre, nor the volume of cars that jam the approach to Tesco, will not be a feature just yet. 
Race day is always a big day for the town and always a particularly busy night for Mr Ali and his team at the Eastern Eye restaurant in Newton Abbot, perfectly located for a curry on the way back to the train station for those who have travelled further.   
"We always have a full restaurant on race days and it is normally a very good-natured crowd", said Mr Ali, who is waiting patiently for Monday, May 17, when he can open his restaurant. 
It will be fantastic to see all those businesses close to sporting venues across the region once again benefiting from the footfall of a big event.