|After a 7.30am inspection
on Sunday morning, racing was allowed to go ahead at Thorpe Lodge
with the going described as heavy. As the rain continued to pour
throughout the day, the going suffered further presenting a real
challenge for both horse and rider.
Stuart Morris was the man in form with two winners. The first winner came in sensational style in Division One of the maiden aboard the previously unraced Le Moss 8-year-old, Marston Moses.
Stuart dropped the horse out at the back early on and coming past the crowd for the final time, he was the only one to be still holding a double handful. He cruised into the lead over three out and galloped away from his rivals, eventually coming home alone as one-by-one his pursuers pulled up in the stamina sapping conditions.
Someone knew that this was a serious horse as he was heavily backed down from the opening show of 8-1 down to as short as 4/1 in places. He really does look a quality animal and must go into the notebook as one to follow as he progresses in grade.
The favourite, Crackrattle (Tim Lane) was a tired horse when pulling up, as was pointing debutant Gale Damage (Matthew Mackley). Hopefully this won't have taken too much out of either horse as they both look potential maiden winners. The unraced Sounds Promising (Kevin Green) was nibbled at in the market and ran a fair sort of race before fading out of contention. He should be noted.
Stuart showed why he is one of the best horsemen on the Pointing circuit when completing his double, taking the Second Division of the maiden on Silver Spider who showed little under rules for Sue Lamyman in 1999. Again, Stuart rode a patient race and brought the Terimon 7-year-old alongside the eventual runner up Emperor Roscoe (Richard Armson) at the final obstacle, sprinting away to come home ten lengths clear with Three Spires (Mr T. Willliams) a further eight lengths back in third.
The winner seemed to relish the conditions more than his rivals and may be good enough to take a Restricted.
The runner up showed more than a glimpse of ability, but will need an easy opportunity if he is to open his account as will the third, Three Spires.
The favourite, Ice Saint (Tim Lane) was one paced back in fourth. He certainly looks the part and should score when conditions are less testing.
This was the final race of the day and the time of 7m 57s, indicates just how bottomless the conditions had actually become.
Earlier, Billie Thomson's "globe-trotting" Balisteros (Carrie Ford) was made favourite in one of the best Ladies Open seen in the Midlands area for a while, but on this occasion had to give second best to Jill Dawson on Upham Lord, who scorched clear to come home twenty-five lengths clear of his rivals. The winner has had jumping problems in the past but put them all behind him here and on this show is a high-class Ladies horse.
Balisteros was taken off his feet early on but stayed on gamely and should have little problem collecting his share again this season.
Shallow River (Sarah Phizacklea) ran the race of his life coming home a distance behind the second. This one appears to love plenty of cut in the ground and should run well when facing an easier opportunity.
Imperial Dawn was the hard-luck story, as despite his sketchy jumping he was upsides the winner when slipping and unseating Fiona Needham just before three out. Compensation surely waits.
Larry's Lord (Jill Wormall) was never able to deploy his usual front running tactics and finished a disappointing fourth. He'll be winning when encountering easier conditions.
Although only second today, Billie Thomson should be commended for her "have horse box, will travel" approach and deserves every success.
The Caroline Bailey trained Red Rebel (Rowan Cope) was a fitting winner of the Mark Ashton Memorial Club Members race. This victory paid fitting tribute to the trainer's father, the great Dick Saunders who sadly passed away last week.
The winner simply galloped his rivals into the ground and hopefully looks to be over the muscle enzyme problem that has troubled him in the past and must be followed whilst in the sort of form.
Playlord (Nick Docker) was twenty-five lengths back in second, but this was a good performance by a horse that has looked decidedly short of stamina in the past. He should be winning when racing on an easier track.
Who Is Equiname (Stuart Morris) was disappointing back in third and should be ignored until he shows a return to form.
Sixteen-year-old Harry Dowty stepped up on his close third at Barbury Castle last weekend, taking the Mens Open on Parahandy. The young rider was challenged all the way to the line by Andy Martin on Romany Chat and held on by a diminishing half-length. This was a good performance by young Harry, as I wouldn't fancy having to fend off Andy Martin in a finish! He'll improve with experience and I have no doubt that the partnership will be scoring again when stamina is at a premium.
The runner up is as game as old boots, if a little inconsistent. It's hard to predict when he's going to get his head in front, but write him off at your peril. Bowlingher (Richard Hunnisett) was a disappointing favourite, beaten a further twenty-five lengths in third. He appeared to be going as well as anything until dropping out of contention after three out, but shouldn't be written off just yet as it would seem that the testing conditions didn't suit.
The ex-Henry Daly trained Lucky Ross (Ed Andrewes) was well supported in the ring, but poor jumping cost him dearly and he came in a well beaten fourth. His fencing will need to improve if he is to trouble the judge.
Julian Pritchard scored on his only ride of the day, Mr Max, coming from what looked an impossible position two out to collar the leader Eddie Rombo (Adrian Wintle) on the run-in. This was Pritchard at his best, showing that he's still one of the top amateurs in the country. The winner seems to stay extra well and appreciates a soft surface and should be followed when the partnership is kept in tact, especially on a stamina-testing course.
As for Eddie Rombo, this was the first real sign of he's shown since joining from the Dick Woodhouse yard. On his previous efforts, it's hard to predict what this run actually means, but he should be noted if encountering this sort of going in future.
The favourite, Hurricane Harry (Stuart Morris) was slightly disappointing in third, but he can be forgiven this run as he is by Strong Gale and would appreciate a sounder surface.
All in all, despite the weather, this was a cracking day's racing, but sympathy must go to those punters who were on a "hat-trick" of soakings after Barbury Castle and Mollington!