|There was one
dominating factor at the Countryside Alliance meeting on Sunday...
its name was Evan Williams. Four timers in point to point racing
are rare enough, but at the tail end of the season, when chasing
the national title, they are virtually unheard of. But no one told
Evan that, and that was precisely what he did.
The day opened with a competitive youngeters maiden, won by Joanne Eddy's pretty grey Oh So Brave. This five year old, having only his second outing to a point to point track, had Evan's name on the winner board from the off, and it could be said that the writing was on the wall from there on in. The ground was reportedly riding as dead, and the bottom half of the course was very deep indeed. The final fence was omitted, leaving a long run in to the
line, but most races were won long before that stage was reached.
The older horses maiden went to The Last Shout (named The Last SPROUT) in an earlier Welsh meeting) and provided a welcome winner for one of the meetings organisers, the hard working Brian Hughes, Brian, and his wife Mair, run the Welsh arm of the Countryside Alliance so this was an appropriate and popular victory, not least because it put the ever vocal Dai
Jones back in the winners enclosure. The Hughes family, and there are rather a lot of them, cousin's, uncle's, brother's, all sorts, from Tonyrefail, have had an eventful season, as they had earlier in the year sold Primatticcio to his new owners, and were still emptying their pockets from his Horse and Hound cup win twenty four ours earlier.
Another family looking for a two day celebration were the Rowsell family, who sent Rajati out in the mixed open under Lucy, hoping to add to her victory in the Stratford Ladies Hunter Chase aboard her fathers Ozzie Jones. Turning for home, Lucy had sent Rajati to the front and had what looked a commanding advantage, but it was not to last. Evan Williams and Sparkling Spring must have the same effect on other jockeys as Michale Schumacher and his Ferrari have on Formula one drivers. One backward glance told Lucy all she needed to know as Evan cruised past her and on to first place. To watch this horse in action is nothing short of awe inspiring, and there must be plenty of people who now regret dropping out of the bidding at £1650 when he was sold two years ago. He has not been beaten in eight races and this was the first time I have ever seen him under any sort of pressure, and it was only the ground that was tiring him, not his rivals.
Another race another winner, and Cherry Gold duly carried the Bob Mason colours into the winners enclosure in The Countryside Alliance Members race, putting Evan on three for the afternoon. The restricted went to an English invader, Geoff barfoot-Saunt, but he had to ride a Welsh horse to win it and the Lisa Day trained Amari made up for his below par performance at Tredegar by trouncing his nearest rival.
And so to the swan song, the curtain call on the South Wales season. Under grey skies that were growing cold, the air temperature was lifted by Bonny Boy, who fairly annihalated the opposition in the Intermediate. All credit to Paul Sheldrake who gave up the ride to help Evan in his title quest, and all credit to Evan for giving the horse the ride that he did.
It's not all over yet, there is a meeting in West Wales to go, and the small matter of the Welsh Novice title to scrap out between Marc Barber and James Tudor. But the book has closed on the South Wales area and that was that for another year. Edddie's final commentary rather summed up the tone of the whole season, "Give it up for Evan Williams and Bonny Boy" he
commanded. And we did.