West Shropshire at WESTON PARK
Sunday 20th February 2000
by Mal Davies
Martin Pipe sent his highly rated young prospect Ibex to the North West
Areas first point-to-point of the new season at Weston Park on Sunday, but it was
the locally trained Whatafellow, ridden by Alistair Crow who took the honours in great
style in the Mens Open.
Ibex, trained by Pipes son David, and apparently trying to qualify for the Cheltenham Foxhunters was always struggling to stay with the leaders, and took a slithering fall four fences out, leaving Whatafellow to cruise home eight lengths clear of former Triumph Hurdle winner Kissair, (ironically trained by Pipe on his great day at Cheltenham) who was making his debut in points. Kissair must surely win an Open or Hunter Chase very soon on this form.
Whatafellow was repeating his Open success at last years meeting, and looks set to run up a sequence in the very best company this season. Well Ted, a late jockey change in favour of Julian Pritchard, stayed on for third, having been well placed throughout. The time was by some way the best of the day.
The going seemed to be about GTS, but there was a very slippery patch on the penultimate turn, which saw no less than three horses slip up and out of contention during the afternoon, including the eye-catching Grunge in the Confined.
The riding honours of the day went to National Ladies champion Pip Jones who notched a double on a pair of raiders from South Wales, favourite Kerry Soldier Blue in the Ladies Open, and Dawns Cognac in division two of the Intermediate.
Kerry Soldier Blue was a shade fortunate to land odds of 2-5 as Kilatty Player, going as well as the eventual winner, ducked violently out of the last to give Candy Thomas a crashing fall into the wing of the fence. Happily the jockey was up, seemingly none the worse, a couple of minutes later, although running repairs were necessary to the woodwork before the next race. Mackabee ran a reasonable race to take second in the end, having made dramatic progress from way out back to join the two principals three out, before fading approaching the last.
Andrew Daltons Rosmarino was the close winner of the Confined race, but only after a lengthy stewards enquiry following an objection by the jockey of runner up, Commercial Artist, Steve Jackson. The stewards ruled that apparent interference, which caused the Ginger McCain trained veteran to swerve before the last, was accidental. Weak Moment, who drifted in the market was back in third, but ran too much in snatches. He probably needs the ground heavier than it was today.
There was a welcome return to form by Tim Stephensons Distant Port to win the other Intermediate Race, two and a half lengths to the good of Military Man. Upton Adventure was very heavily backed and looked superb in the paddock, but fell when in contention.
The opening Hunt race fell to odds-on favourite Carrig Boy (David Barlow) who profited from a last fence blunder by the enterprisingly ridden Haveafewmanners (Miss M.Lownes) to score.
The final Maiden race saw most of the money wagered staying firmly in the bookies satchels as outsider Frangipane stayed on strongly to see off two heavily fancied horses, Elver Spring (Richard Burton) and Vertical Air. As the winning jockey rejoiced in the name of William Hill, the writing was surely already on the wall for losing punters before the off! The form of the race may not amount to much, as hardly anything finished apart from the placed horses.