APRIL 2004
by Ian Protheroe

A perfect viewing afternoon at what is probably the best supported meeting in South East Wales. The course at Redlands Farm is always well prepared, but this year was able to rely on nature to provide the good to soft ground – in recent years the course has frequently had to be watered for this meeting. The combination of fine, warm weather and good quality racing, including the Welsh Point-to-Point ‘Grand National’, meant a long queue of cars to get in, followed by even longer queues at the beer tent and ice cream vans all afternoon!

The opening Members Race was won fairly comfortably by the odds on favourite CANNON BRIDGE ridden by D S (Dai) Jones. The next horses in the market failed to complete, leaving KHATANI as the only challenger on the final circuit, but Cannon Bridge stayed on well to win comfortably.

The Confined also had an odds on favourite in the form of NOAFF, whose most recent form was 3rd in a Hunter Chase at Chepstow. However, the race went to the steadily improving ROSTOCK, under the excellent riding of Nicky Williams. ROSTOCK, a son of Roselier, galloped the rest of the field into the ground and was always able to find a bit more to keep ahead of NOAFF. However, his jumping caused a little concern to his backers at times and will need to improve if he is ever to take on Hunter Chases.

The Panacur sponsored mares only maiden was won for the second year running by Dai Jones, this time on the 6-year-old RUBY DANTE. It will be interesting to see if this mare makes the same progress as last years winner of this race SOHAPARA, who went on to win the mares final at Garthorpe.

The Intermediate was won by probably the most improved horse on the Welsh circuit this year, GIPSY GIRL. This mare has now won a maiden, a restricted and an intermediate in consecutive races. It was a very impressive performance in a style which suggested that she could have gone around again without exerting herself. This horse may also soon be capable of winning in better company. (She was a late withdrawal from a recent Hunter Chase at Chepstow).

The highlight of the afternoon was the Welsh Point-to-Point Grand National over 4 miles. Robert Waley-Cohen’s DOWN was attempting to become the first horse to win this race 3 times. The English raider was sent off at around 4/5 favourite, and landed the odds easily from SPEED BOARD and a distance clear of RED NECK in third. Basically, DOWN gave his supporters little to worry about as he was the only horse in the field who appeared to truly stay 4 miles. On this performance I would only offer short odds on this horse coming back to win again next year as a 14 year old!

The restricted was divided on the day, with the 8-year-old maiden BILL HAZE winning from joint favourite RAGWEEK in the first division. The other joint favourite, PAMS OAK was in contention when making an horrendous mistake at the final open ditch, but appeared full of running at the time. The second division went to CAMDEN CARAMEL, who won easily in what appeared to be an open race, when only 3 finished.

The final young horse maiden was spectacular in a way that only maidens can! 14 horses set off, but only 10 were left after half a circuit, and only 4 left one circuit later. With half a circuit left, the only 2 left standing were the eventual winner ROBAOSTAR and THE LORDS CROSS. There were far too many incidents within the race to describe, with horses falling, being taken out, brought down and unseating their riders. The odds on favourite RESCINDO apparently slipped up on the far turn after one circuit, but I can’t be sure of this as there were ambulance personnel and veterinary staff rushing around in all directions!

The next meeting here is Gelligaer Farmers on the 8th May, and the Countryside Alliance meeting 3 weeks after that. The course is only 10 minutes drive from junction 33 of the M4. Its easy access makes it well worth a trip down from England. Why not make the effort?