SUNDAY 26 JANUARY 2003
by Rachel O'Brien
the first of the South Midland Area Points took place on Sunday at
Heythrop in Oxfordshire. The
eight race card was soon extended to ten races and the afternoon produced
some good racing on near perfect going with a huge crowd enjoying
unseasonably mild and dry conditions.
Heythrop is a relatively flat right-handed course with a few
undulations and has several different distances which can confuse new
attendees (myself being one!) It
is not the best course for viewing because it lacks a hill on which to
stand, but most of the course is visible from a few strategic spots and
thanks to an excellent commentary we were kept well informed of the
to apologise for my lack of information regarding what happened during
some of the races (a) because I arrived late and missed the first race,
(b) my pen decided to work intermittently throughout the afternoon and (c)
because I had to leave before the last race.
However, perhaps some information is better than none!
I’ve said, I missed the first race (Members), but I believe Thor’s
Phantom won it for the second year in succession.
packed afternoon, the organisers would have been praying for no delays,
but the second race was late off due to Semliki parting company with his
jockey at the start and completing about ¾ of a circuit before being
caught and reunited. The race
itself was a competitive affair with 19 runners contesting the Confined
Hunts race over the standard 3-mile trip.
Mr Smudge was one of the market leaders, but was soon struggling as
Wellie lead them off at a furious gallop.
Still among the leaders, he unseated his rider on the second
circuit and left Admiral Rose to come home strongly 1½l ahead of
Thatsforeel (who finished very sore) and 1l back to Route One.
The time of 6.46 was the fastest of the day.
three was the Ladies Open Race over 3⅔ miles and hot favourite here
was Balisteros, odds-on to increase his winning sequence.
However, his seven rivals had other ideas and Bosuns Mate took them
along a good pace. Balisteros
never seemed to be travelling well and the danger signals started to go
out after 1½ circuits with reminders from Pauline Robson.
Gill’mar, on the other hand, was always going well and jumped
superbly to take up the running about 1 mile from home.
He never looked in danger of being beaten and finished 8l ahead of
Bosuns Mate who held a final surge from Balisteros by 1l with Aqua Star in
how badly he appeared to be going with a full circuit remaining,
Balisteros did well to finish so close, but perhaps he is now feeling his
age. The time for 3⅔
miles was 7.46.
Men’s Open was listed as the South Midlands Area Feature Race and was
over 4 miles. All eyes were
on the grey Bright Approach who looked superb in the paddock and he
didn’t disappoint. He was
always travelling sweetly in behind until about ½ mile from home and then
quickly asserted his authority and held a comfortable 2l advantage at the
line. Him of Praise chased
him home and a creditable 3rd was Wag the Brush who, as his
name suggests, was at the rear of field most of the way and finished
strongly 1½l behind. The
time for 4 miles was 8.33.
field of 12 lined up for the Intermediate Race over 3 miles and favourite
was Jazz de Chalamont. Sadly,
he got no further than the first fence and when caught at fence 3 seemed
to have suffered a serious injury and left the course in a horse
ambulance. I hope it is not
as bad as it looked. The race
was won in very determined fashion by Frangipane, a chestnut mare, who
held the challenge of The Gadfly by 2½l with another 15l back to Dinsey
Finnegan. Time for the 3
miles was 6.51.
of Division 1 of the Open Maiden (6 yr olds & over) came next over 3
miles. Bolbec Ice Falcon was
a debutante for Caroline Bailey and widely expected to beat 9 opponents.
However, he didn’t take the eye during running and I think was
pulled up on the second circuit. The
outsider Brown Blake, who is a half brother to Brown Bala, easily won the
race. No previous form and an
“unenthusiastic” label in the form guide did little to suggest he
would win by 15l from Run to the Glen and another 6l back to
Stroud, who led for a long way, took the eye throughout the race until
fading badly with about ½ mile to go.
Might want a shorter trip.
field of 9 lined up for Part 2 of Division 1 and appeared the stronger of
the two races, with the winning time 9 seconds faster than Part 1.
Denel Lady, who also had a pretty poor description in the form
guide, won this. Another
chestnut mare, she also kept on in determined fashion to deny Ad Lib by 1l
with Fortlander 12l back in 3rd.
The time was 6.47 for 3 miles.
Jon Trice-Rolph appeared to give an easy ride to a nice-looking
debutante 10yr old Rightful Heir (brother to You be King).
Having completed one comfortable circuit, he called it a day.
race was the Open Maiden (5,6 & 7 yr olds) over 2½ miles and saw the
closest finish of the day. The
favourite was another Caroline Bailey debutante mare Return to Clover, who
also looked a picture in the paddock.
The race was an eventful one, with an early casualty being the
fancied Simply Divine who’s steering and brakes suddenly failed, dumping
her unfortunate jockey on the floor. Return to Clover travelled well and shaken up over the last
½ mile held Game On by ½l with Sing High (half sis to Romany Chat) 12l
back in 3rd. Ideal
de L’ile caught the eye back in 4th (another John Trice Rolph
runner who wasn’t asked a serious question).
Time for 2½ miles was 5.06.
ninth race (my last) was back to 3 miles for Part 1 of Division 2 of the
Open Maiden. 10 runners
contested this race and for the second time the organisers’ nightmare
returned with the departure, before reaching the paddock this time, of
Almost a Day. Unperturbed, the other runners filed out on to the course and
waited patiently for the escapee to be caught and reunited with his
jockey. One horse who caught
the eye was Astley Gold who, despite carrying 10lb overweight and trying
his best to lose his jockey twice with indifferent jumps – Grant Whisker
must have used superglue – raced prominently for much of the race. The race was won by Mrs Sherman, a modest graduate from NH
rules beating Uncle Ada and Tanager.
I didn’t wait around for the distances and time.
they managed to squeeze in the final race before it got too dark, but it
must have been nearly 5 o’clock before it was run.