by Alison Morris

After the disappointment of Glamorgan a week earlier, racegoers were treated to a feast of racing at Bonvilston, with 10 races sporting  good fields and run at a strong pace on the good ground, which also offered plenty of cushion from the grass cover.  The early dismal weather cleared up and was dry although a little chilly at the end of the day, and the crowd had plenty of excitement to keep them going.

Highlight of the day was the area feature race, the four mile mixed open; locally known as the Welsh point to point Grand National (bit of a misnomer this year as Banwen Miners are offering a four mile race on their card), and some good horses went to the start. Early pace was set by that grand old campaigner Royal Mountbrowne but with a circuit to go the only two real contenders were Sam Waley-Cohen, who had made the trip from Warwickshire with Down (FR) and Evan Williams who had made the rather shorter trip from Llandow with General Custer. General Custer looks a horse with plenty of stamina but even he could not peg back the redoubtable Down who rewarded his connections by holding on by a couple of lengths. It was a good race run off a strong early pace, but the more  exciting finishes off the day came from other races on the card and usually involved Tim Vaughan and Christian Williams.

The first battle between these to came in division one of the split Confined race, when Red Neck, who seems to like it around Bonvilston, stole the race under a strong drive from Tim on the line from long time leaders Christian and Longstone Boy. Revenge was sweet for young Mr Williams in the Mares race when Dalby Carr powered her way to victory and was not to be pegged back by Jo Jo's Best Friend and Tim. In fairness the mare looked to finish sore so Tim was probably being sympathetic with her in the closing stages although it looked unlikely that the roles would have been reversed in any case.

Tim headed the Jockeys table for the day adding the final maiden (Boozeandyoulose), a double for trainer John Moore. Tim also took a division of the restricted on Cracker Ticket. Christian Williams was looking very confident in the penultimate race of the day on David Brace's Celtic Revival; only to find younger brother Nick breathing down his neck on their fathers Floodgate (the cheek!). Head to head at the last, and with dad shouting them on from the middle of the course at the finish (although his directions did seem to be aimed at his own horse....), a mistake by Celtic Revival and an awkward jump by Floodgate saw Christian catapulted through the air and his brother looking  back down at him as he went on to win, much to fatherís delight. To say Christian looked disappointed is an understatement, and as one onlooker commented, "That's Nicks lift home out of the window. " Two very talented riders these two and when in the same race it's very difficult to tell who is who!

Other riding honours went to Amanda Meakins (River Lossie conf div 2), William Oakes (Detriot Davy, members),  James Tudor (Mecca Prince, restricted div 1)and Miss K Clift (Mr Banker, maiden div 1). Apologies to this jockey for not knowing her full name but I was with the concerned group of people waiting for Brad's Boy to get to his feet after his horrible fall at the ditch. Thankfully he did as David Gibbs had suffered enough tragedy that week. Sadly one that was not so lucky was Malcolm Jones's Poets Song, who collapsed and died on his way back to the horsebox after finishing his race in the restricted. All the connections were obviously distraught, as was his jockey Ian Johnson.

A sad postscript to an otherwise terrific day racing, and one that Llangeinor on Saturday are going to find a hard act to follow!