Bicester with Whaddon
Official Ground: Good to Soft, Soft in places (After the 3rd race announced as Soft.)
A fantastic day's racing in the sunshine at Whitfield racecourse and a huge crowd turned out to see the second South Midlands meeting of the weekend.
The racing opened with a dramatic Hunt Members when 10 of the 13 entered horses declared and only 2 completed. Unoitmakessense (Will Telfer) unseated his rider 4 fences from home when looking like the winner, but landing on his feet Telfer quickly remounted to pursue Boddington Lad (Phil Nichols) who was still 4 - 5 lengths clear going to the last. Unoitmakessense picked up quickly and eventually got up to win by a short head. "He really struggles with his jumping, I had an hour's lesson with Yogi Breisner during the week to try and help his jumping and even schooled him this morning before racing," explained the jockey.
The Open Maiden Race for Mares & Fillies Only was divided on the day, the first division going to Dusky Lory in 7 minutes 25 seconds. Owned, trained and ridden by Ian Bostock and on only her second time on the course the winner saw off the ever-present challenge of Just Judy (Adam Wedge) by a short head and Sweet Sparkle (Tom Weston) another head back in third. Previously with breeder Mrs Reeney Robeson, since joining Ian she has run once at Garthorpe and has come on a lot since her debut, "She loves the soft ground and will probably head to Kimble in a couple of weeks," explained Ian.
Division 2, the faster by 2 seconds, went to the 4/5 favourite Princess Fyona (Dave Mansell). Following up on 2 previous seconds, the mare made stealthy headway to lead after the 15th and kept on to get up by 1 and a half lengths to Spotthestripe (Tom Ellis). "She has done everything right so far," said Dave Mansell of the winner, "and will probably head to the Cheltenham Sales next."
Redemption came in the Ladies Open when Claire Hart and Desert Tommy came home in front after finishing fourth as an odds-on favourite last week at Kingston Blount. Better suited to the soft ground today but still off the bit for almost a circuit, Claire worked hard to come past long time leader Liverpool Echo (Sarah Phizacklea) and the odds-on favourite Bravery Scotch (Claire Allen) by 5 lengths and 3 lengths respectively. "He needs soft ground or 3 miles plus," explained Claire (Hart).
The only sub 7 minute time of the day came in the Mens Open when Ben Tuckey continued his good week after his third in the Cheltenham Foxhunters. Aboard his father's Chilling Place (8/11 favourite) the pair continued their unbeaten record in Point-to-Points together to come home 2 and a half lengths in front of long time leader Buckingham Bill (Mark Wilesmith) in 6 minutes 59 seconds. Unsure of how he would handle the soft ground Ben explained, "He still had that extra gear even though he wasn't a fan of the ground. We would love to head for Hunter Chase at some point, but at 6ft and a true amateur I struggle with the weight and would need a 12st race."
Overcoming 2 falls in 2 previous runs Dan Maguire (Henry Kinchen) was unfazed by the soft ground and came home an easy winner ahead of Robin Des Bank in 7 minutes 16 seconds. Kinchen was bouncing back from an earlier fall in the day and with a newly stitched chin was never far away on the winner, producing a strong drive to come home a comfortable 6 lengths in front. Purchased from Doncaster Sales by the owner, Henry's mother, Donna Renney, and trained by Julie Marles, he will hopefully run again in a couple of weeks.
Division 2 of the Open Maiden race went to the Jimmy Tarry trained Taken on Trust (Tom Ellis) who saw off the challenge of the 5/4 favourite Moscow Mule (Pete Mann) by 6 lengths. Purchased from Doncaster sales 4 years ago the owner, Toby Hunt, was quick to pay tribute to Nick Sarson who was responsible for spotting the winner at the sales. "He's been a bit unlucky previously and actually got out on the road at Mollington a couple of years ago, but he loves the soft ground and we hope to head to Dingley next,".
The Intermediate went to the locally trained Exceptionnell. Under a typically patient ride from Stuart Morris, the winner made good headway after the ninth to lead 3 fences from home and saw off the challenge of the well-fancied Gentleman Anshan (Hannah Watson) who was returning from a long absence. "He's a soft ground merchant, and stays forever so we'd hope to head for the Grimthorpe (four mile) Cup next," explained winning owner, Lady Connell.
The Rosemary Gasson/Hannah Watson team went one better in the Restricted when Kilcascan came home half a length in front of Orient Legend (Tom Ellis). The winner, another Doncaster Sales purchase, made notable headway after the thirteenth fence to track Orient Legend and a better jump at the last sealed the win in 7 minutes and 1 second.
Overall a great day’s racing with testing conditions and competitive finishes. Ride of the day for me was from Claire Hart producing a never-say-die ride on Desert Tommy to silence last week’s critics and also from Will Telfer for his quick thinking in remounting Uknowitmakessense. One for the notebook is Spotthestripe who finished a promising second on his racing debut and will improve.