by Alison Morris

The rain, which had lashed down on South Wales for the previous week, stayed away from Lower Machen on Saturday. In fact by the beginning of the third race waterproof coats had been returned to the car and the t-shirts were out. The course, which provided plenty of grass cover, was riding on the soft side, as was to be expected, especially along the back straight. A factor that played into the hands of the stayers as the day wore on. High entries saw the maiden split three ways and sporting almost full fields in each race, and the racing was good, with the climb towards the finish straight playing an important part.

The memberís race went to the grand old stalwart of Welsh racing Red Neck and Tim Vaughan. Being driven along a mile from home it looked doubtful that he would get there, but he battled on bravely, and his trainer John Moore was a little emotional as he crossed the line.

Second race on the card was the Restricted, which saw the Paul Hamer trained Carew Lad sent off as favourite. Taking an early lead this strong galloping horse put in some diabolical and also some totally spectacular leaps under Dai Jones. However as he began the homeward run his lead was being whittled away by Silver Castle and Lucy Rowsell. Sadly Carew Lad chose the last to put in one of his chancey jumps and sustained a heavy fall from which he mercifully got up, leaving Silver Castle storming away to the line. In all honesty the grey horse was finishing stronger and would have won anyway. The horseís owner Paul Roberts was walking with a limp at the end of the day, due to his bulging left pocket!

The confined race saw a superb front running performance by How to Run and Christian Williams. Stealing the race by driving on downhill on the final circuit Chris was never in danger of being passed by that dour old stager Saffron Moss who eventually finished a distance back in second.

The ladies race saw a strong contest for this time of year and Charlotte Williams and De Chelly eventually out battled Dexter Gordon and Lucy Rowsell over the last.

The Menís open saw only 6 horses go to post and it was the 11-10 favourite Bright Beacon who emerged the victor for Evan Williams. He was hard pressed to do so however as Tim Vaughan had his sights set on a double and chased him all the way on Johnnyís Gone.

The Intermediate was a race for novice riders and was won by Mr Banker and Karen Clift. The big priced Steel Gem and James Price filled the second spot.

My info on the maiden races is a bit vague as I was saddling, but the first went to Rideaway Rose and Tim Vaughan who did get that double. The second saw a well-timed ride from Tom Faulkner and Because I Am, trained by his mother. The final division put Christian Williams back in the winners enclosure for the second time with Anflora, trained by former Welsh Champion Tim Jones for a group who drink at his local pub, this was a popular and well backed win. Although I donít agree that Tim could still do 11st 5 as he claimed in the pub afterwards! Chris once again stole the race on the back straight, displaying his considerable race riding talents.

I have a nasty feeling that this may be the last season we see this young man on the point to point to circuit, as many in the professional world are starting to sit up and take notice. As I write Chris leads the battle for the national amateur title by two, with two days to go. So for all of you who attend Bonvilston on Sunday, if he is there watch and appreciate a star of the future, because it may be your last chance.