by Alison Morris

After enduring near Arctic conditions at Bonvilston on Saturday, it was more than a little daunting to drive through hammering rain on the way to Tenby on Monday morning. But optimism was rewarded and we arrived at the Lydstep track to the sight of gate stewards wearing shirtsleeves and sunglasses.

The members race was thought to be a forgone conclusion for Never in Debt and Marc Barber, but Celtic Friend, who was having one of his “going” days, took off like the proverbial train for Hywel Evans and was never headed. Never in Debt, whose jumping was less than fluent over the downhill fences, managed to scrap his way back into second place.

The card sported two maiden races, one for all ages over three miles, and a youngster’s maiden over two and a half. The first of these went to Tim Vaughan, who was still getting his blood pressure back to normal after his ride on Deep Dale at Bonvilston. Oscars Express, was always to the fore and finally out pointed Mission Lord at the last. Having looked as though he was weakening coming up the hill, the horse took Tim on a joy rode down the hill before he could stop after the finish. Perhaps there is an alternative career for Tim as a skier!

The youngster’s maiden went to the favourite Twilight Dancer and Marc Barber, from Books Whirl back in third and Pam’s Oak in second. The well-fancied Hensil faded badly under Nick Williams coming back up the hill. Both maidens were eventful affairs, with a couple of refusals and a spectacular departure by Hywel Evans right in front of the crowd.

The Ladies open was not the hottest to be contested this year, and saw Polo Ridge who had never completed in a point to point before, scoring under Bridget Lewis, he set off at the front and didn’t see another horse on his way round. Former Hunter Chase winner Sip Of Brandy could only manage third behind the plucky little Fair Charmeur whose size belies her huge heart.

The Men’s Open was a match between Sparkling Spring (Evan Williams) and OO Eee Be (Dai Jones). Sparkling Spring was odds on of 1-6 and betting was only taken on how far he would win by. The race turned out to be material for a comic sketch when Oo Eee Be declined to take the first bend and went straight over the wire fence into the next field. Never one to give up easily, Dai found a way out of the field through the crowd and came back onto the track to complete the course for second place. But he still needed both hands on one rein to prevent going back over the fence after the finish.

His riding skills were rewarded on the rest of the card where he scored a double, Gold Kriek in the Intermediate (Gold Kriek must be heading the area young horse awards now) from the well backed Johnny’s Gone and Poachers Paddy in the restricted. Poachers Paddy was having his first run of the season and finished full of running ahead of Gerry and Tom who does wonderfully well for a horse that is blind in one eye. Oh So Brave was pulled up under Evan Williams and doesn’t seem able to recapture the promise that he showed when winning at Bonvilston last year.

On an attendance note I have never seen so many cars at Lydstep, they were still rolling in before the Mens Open…this is one hunt that must be patting their healthy bank balance this morning!

CONGRATULATIONS: To Evan Williams and Cherry Gold for their run away success in the Dunraven Bowl. A steering wheel is on the way…