by Ian Protheroe

A lucky day for me as due to a combination of circumstances I suddenly found that I was able to attend this meeting when I didn’t expect it. A fine, warm day and the chance to go to my favourite course just 5 miles up the road meant that I didn’t mind whether I won or lost on the day.

I must admit to being unsure about the official going. The course did appear to have some quite good or even soft patches, but was rumoured to be firm in places. Apparently, gossip was that the Hunt had refused to pay to have the course watered even though it is an option at Bonvilston, and one or two local owners had taken exception to this. However, a good covering of grass suggested that it was generally good ground.

The opening Hunt race attracted 7 runners, a rarity in these parts this year for Hunt races, and was a very competitive affair. The race was won by the odds on favourite OSCAIL-AN-DORAS, second here 3 weeks ago and a subsequent winner at the Llangeinor. Marc Barber brought Oscail-An-Doras into the lead after the final fence from DOC RYAN’S, ridden (and owned) by Tim Vaughan, who was making his debut in Points (the horse, not Tim!). Doc Ryan’s tied up very badly between the last 2 fences but must surely be a winner in points soon.

The rather inconsistent WELSH WARRIOR, ridden by Andrew Price, won the Intermediate race. Early fallers in this race meant that there were only 3 horses in contention going on to the final circuit, with the first 2 in the market, MECCA PRINCE and STORMHILL DAYDREAM accompanied by Welsh Warrior. Most spectators felt that Welsh Warrior would fall back on the final circuit, but Andrew Price kept in contention and took the lead at the last and kept ahead of James Tudor on Mecca Prince, a good winner here 3 weeks ago. I must admit to having a small wager on Welsh Warrior at 16/1, who always looks fit and healthy, although I am told that if I had seen the way it had been pulled up at the Banwen meeting on Bank Holiday Monday I wouldn’t have backed it with anyone’s money!

The Confined formed the first part of a double for leading Men’s rider Evan Williams on HEE’S A DANCER, who won fairly comfortably in the end from a running on CHIEF PREDATOR and the veteran KERRY SOLDIER BLUE, who had had a rather hard race at Pentreclwydau on Bank Holiday Monday. Evan then followed up with a comfortable win in the Mixed Open on 1/3 favourite SPARKLING SPRING, who has now been placed well to win 6 races out of 6 this season. The previously useful SKOMAR ODDY finished second in this race after a long lay off and should be winning races again soon.

The Restricted provided the most exciting race of the day, with 5 horses being in contention coming to the last fence and all finishing within a few lengths of each other. The winner BONNY BOY appeared the least likely to win after the second last fence, but was then stayed on well to lead at the last to win from ALPINE FUGUE, GRIZZLY GOLFWEAR, NEARLY NOBLE and BOOZEANDYOULOSE. In my humble opinion, all of these horses look good enough to win at least a Restricted over the next few weeks.

Division 1 of the Maiden produced the biggest field of the day with 15 runners. This race was won by the outsider SOUTHERN BELIZE, ridden by Amanda Meakins. This horse basically lead for the whole race, with nothing else really getting in a blow. As this horse had been pulled up in each of its 5 starts, the stewards enquired about its improved form. Unfortunately, I was in a ‘black hole’ away from the public address system when the verdict was announced, but it appears that the stewards accepted the explanation given, (although I am not sure what that excuse was!). GOOD MORNING was second in this race for James Tudor, followed by DS Jones who really had to ‘battle’ on BATTLING ON to keep it in the race. The fourth, MARNIES SONG, who showed a little form 3 years ago, returned to her original trainer Dai Gibbs 2 weeks ago and stayed on to finish her first race of the year. I feel that she could now have a chance of losing her maiden tag before the season is out.

Division 2 of the maiden only had 6 runners. Evan Williams chose to ride DROM ISLAND rather than OH SO BRAVE, a 5 year old that he trains himself, presumably as he felt that this gave him a better chance of a winner for the riders title. Evan could be seen clearly talking to the rider of Oh So Brave, James Tudor, as both horses went on to the final circuit when 4 horse were closely in contention. However, James Tudor then pulled up Oh So Brave before the next fence. This horse appears to have some ability so watch for it in future. The winner of the race was ROMAN GOVERNOR, giving Paul Sheldrake a double after his earlier win in the Restricted. Roman Governor outstayed the favourite NAT GOLD, who tied up badly in the last half mile after looking a likely winner.

Altogether a very enjoyable afternoon with a good, relaxed atmosphere and good racing.

Ian Protheroe