by Ian Protheroe

My first visit to a PTP for nearly two years, and what a disappointment! Only 21 runners all afternoon (and one of those was withdrawn at the post!). Evan Williams recorded another 2 winners in his quest for the national jockeys title with 2 walkovers - SILVER MINX in the members, and the veteran ROYAL MOUNTBROWNE in the Men`s Open. Young Tom Faulkner was down on the race card as the scheduled rider of Royal Mountbrowne, and there were a few comments passed about Evan being put up for this just to increase his number of winners. My own personal feeling about this, and Evan is not the only person to benefit from the existing system over the years, is that walkovers should not count towards the rider's titles. (Why not discuss this on the "Off the bridle" mailing list).

Anyway, the weather was fine, if a little cold towards the end of the afternoon, and the crowd large, which made the number of runners even more disappointing. This course was being used for the first time, but 3 weeks of virtually no rain in the Vale of Glamorgan had left it looking very dry. The course also has quite a steep drop and climb at one point, which apparently had been the final deciding factor for many owners not to run. This meeting seems to have had more than its fair share of weather problems over recent years, when it seems either to be too dry or too wet. Unfortunately, the Hunt itself has a bit of a reputation for, shall we say, aloofness(?), which doesn`t always lend itself to popularity from the owners. (Compare it to the Pentyrch meeting at Bonvilston 5 miles down the road next week and you might get some idea).

The racing itself was generally exciting. The Open Maiden was won by ROMANY BAAN, ridden well by James Tudor. This horse was kept on a tight rein for most of the circuit and looked to have plenty in hand when odds on favourite NOTSOTINY (Evan Williams) fell at the third last. The Ladies Open was an exciting race where the experienced Emily Jones got the experienced NIGEL'S BOY ahead of the odds on favourite YOUNG MANNY(Bridget Lewis). Emily Jones is as good as any rider around, in my opinion, and certainly compares with any of the top lady riders in the country.

The Restricted provided some revenge(?), perhaps, for Tom Faulkner, who got WELSH WARRIOR ahead of Evan Williams' TINY. This was his first ever winner, and he gave this horse an impressive ride to take control after the third last fence. The young horse maiden was won by the first favourite of the day, with CRACKER TICKET winning for Tim Vaughan. This was, however, the slowest time of the day by some margin.

The fastest time of the day was in the older horse maiden, with the 8year old CHESTNUT WOOD finally got off the mark. This race was 10 seconds faster than any other on the day, mainly because of the frantic pace set by the joint favourite SCOUSER, ridden by Evan Williams. This horse is completely mad in my opinion, and if Evan wants to ride this then he must be truly keen to win the jockeys title! Even with his years of experience he had next to no control over it, until it finally wore it self out before the second open ditch and was pulled up. Do not back this horse under any circumstances at present!

Hopefully off to the Pentyrch at Bonvilston next week, my favourite of all meetings. They have already watered the course, which means it should p--- down all week.(Before the F&M last year, this meeting was postponed for wet ground 3 years running!) The meeting features the 4 mile Welsh Point-to-Point "Grand National", and whenever it is held usually attracts a good number of runners.