by Alison Morris

After the near festival size crowds that filled this course for the Pentyrch meeting, Saturdays attendance was a bit of a let down. The man in the doughnut van looked a little bleak before half way through. The weather may have been partly responsible for the gate figures but I have a sneaky feeling that three days racing in one area in one week is a little too much of a good thing. Perhaps the Jockey club and the respective secretaries could have a re think and space these meetings out a bit more; after all, peoples bank balances are, despite what the organisers often like to believe, finite, and once they are empty they are empty.

Owners, trainers and jockeys of course are different; they are always there; and to those of you who DIDN’T attend on Saturday; tough, because you missed a good days racing.

The member’s race went to Malcolm Jones’s trusty campaigner Flockmaster, well ridden by Nick Williams. Nick has long been known as “Little Nicky” (not sure how that one started), but his increasing height makes “Not So Little Nicky” a better title. The favourite, Glen Mist, was pulled up after a circuit by Evan Williams, who reported that the horse seemed unhappy on the ground and was never travelling well.

The second race, the Intermediate, saw Evan reclaiming the winners spot on Detroit Davy, with Storm Man, whose only win in GB came on this course in 1999, a long way back in second. With these two the only finishers, the suggestion that the ground was not as quick as it looked became apparent.

The confined race saw, in my book and that of many others, the best training feat of the season to date. Cream Supreme, absent from a track for two years, at the ripe old age of 13 and minus his customary blinkers, forged his way ahead up the hill and finally saw off the pace setting Gold Kriek. The favourite, Noaff, who had been all but running away for most of the race, could only manage third place. Such was the strength of the Evan Williams drive that, head down, he nearly careered into the rails as the old grey horse drew towards the track away from the separate run-in. This was a victory tinged with emotion for all concerned, and a large crowd gathered to cheer this gallant War Horse in for yet another success.

While Cream Supreme was having his photograph taken, that other, and even more successful charger from the Williams’ stable was parading serenely and waiting his turn to race; and what a race it was. Catfish Keith had come from Henrietta Knight’s with a bit of a name for throwing the towel in under rules, but he and Lucy Rowsell set a blistering pace throughout, hotly pursued by Akina and Nick Williams. So Sparkling Spring was faced with a rare situation, he had to battle to the line to win his race. And battle he did. I've only ever seen this horse under pressure once before, at the same track, and I’m trying vainly to remember if a stick was used then. It needed to be used on Saturday, and Evan, having finally held of Red neck and Akina for the minor honours, commented afterwards that the ground was indeed not as quick as the horse would have liked and that it had been “ A Good race!”  The pacesetting Catfish Keith was overhauled on the run in but will have benefited from the race, having slipped up on his only other outing.

Evans place in the winners enclosure was taken away in the Restricted by Tim Vaughan, who is himself having such a successful season, and the beautifully bred She’s My Baby. With the Williams runner Beauchamp Observer back in second.

The first division of the Maiden race saw a very nice horse indeed in the shape of Silver Castle, who gave Lucy Rowsell a wonderful ride to score a hefty victory over Joe Price and Fopston Maiden; his main  challenger, Swinging Bridge, having been pulled up just after two out. The handsome grey hardly blew in the paddock afterwards, and will definitely be one to look out for in the future. His new owner, Paul Roberts, who had only purchased the horse in the week, was fairly shaking as he went to collect his winnings, and quote of the week definitely goes to Jack Rowsell who stated to his amused wife; “Look, I have got a heart!!”

Lucy tried to make it two in a row on the other Irish import Catch the Printer, but he tired at the last and was overhauled by the double scoring Tim Vaughan and Derry Blue. The Maiden races were made even more eventful by ever entertaining Arctium, who, having condescended to take Geoff Barfoot Saunt to the start in division one, took a liking to it and as the starter dropped his flag dumped the jockey and set off down the fields for a nose. With Arctium on the card there’s never a dull moment!