by Alison Morris

After last years debacle it was a pleasure to see such large crowds at Ystradowen on Saturday, the course (part of which had been watered) was riding firm, but grass cover provided plenty of cushion on the non-watered parts. The facilities were a little too compact, and the walkway for the horses from paddock to track was a bit narrow, I would not have fancied leading some of the horses I have known out with the crowd that close to them. But these are minor hiccups and maybe with a little bit of re-fencing the Ystrad can improve it.

Course wise the track rode much better than last year, the only “dodgy” siting being fence 4 which is too close to the corner and taking horses by surprise. This was proved by a few incidents at this fence, and shortly after discussing the position of this fence with David Stephens it was alarming to see his son Robert being carted through the wings at that very fence. A discussion with the Point to Point committee of the Ystrad will take place tonight, so watch this space.

The racing was good, and it appears that this course, like that in Laleston, will bring horses together, as the twisting nature of the track means that the long striding horses have to be restrained.

Christian Williams had headed off to Bangor that day, only to find that his most hopeful looking ride Dorans Gold was a non-runner. Not very happy, he will have been even more disgruntled when he found out that younger brother Nick had pinched the win in the youngsters maiden on Carling Elect, who had come down with Chris at Howick a month ago. Carling Elect held on in a tight finish from BlackChurch Lass and Evan Williams, whose day was shortly to go downhill with a horrible fall from Oo Eee Be in the Open.

Jonathan Tudor had a clear out last season and had to watch Good Morning win the older horse’s maiden for her new owner Glynis England. It was a good piece of riding by young Robert Stephens and rewarded a game little mare with a well-deserved victory after many close calls in the past twelve months.

It was good to see Hee’s A Dancer and Roger Wilcox in the winners enclosure after the furore of Monmouth. Emily and “The Dancer” make a stylish pair and their victory was in emphatic style. Roger, on the ball as ever, asked if he would have to go Portman Square to keep this one as well!

The Men’s Open was won comfortably by Dai “No Moustache” Jones and the lovely Moon Tiger. Another of Dil Thomas’s home bred horses this is a horse with a heart as big as his body -which is not small. Do You Know Wha’ had all the confidence of his jockey, Nick Williams, but obviously went wrong, pulled up two out.

Andrew Hanly may only be a novice but he displays considerable skill in steering the talented but very temperamental Spirit Prince, and the outcome of the Nov Riders Intermediate was never in doubt. Both he and his stablemate ValJean run well for their owner- trainers, who have had their grounding in getting horses fit on the trotting circuit.

“Fizzy” got busy in the Restricted and followed up her Monmouth win to make it two in a row. There was a minor tack crisis on the way to the start, and maybe Dick Jones will have to take a pay cut.. ! Fizzy comfortably held off Gerry And Tom, who ran much better than he did the previous week, and gave a good performance for a thirteen year old who has hunted thirty three times this year! One small note of disappointment, the victor’s trophy was a silver tray, which couldn’t be filled at the pub that evening. The argument continued though over which of the horses four owners owned the leg that crossed the line first.!!

A big weekends racing coming up, with one of the best supported meetings, the Pentyrch, to look forward to on Saturday, a Lydstep meeting on Monday and the Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow on Tuesday. Happy Punting!