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9th January 2005
by Simon McInnes
Home of jump racing on the web

Photos by Graham Fisher

Without wishing to seem to be gloating from the south, given the terrible weather, especially up north, in the days immediately before this, the going was amazingly good with good to firm places, and there was no water at all in the tunnel. Wellies were strictly optional. Also, after the problems last year, the catering arrangements were improved by more outlets, thus ensuring that buying a cup of coffee did not equate to missing a race. Thus a good afternoon for all concerned (the apparently best supported runners on the day all got turned over for the bookies benefit), except possibly Julian Pritchard, who had one winner but ended his three other rides being dashed to the ground. The other disappointment was that when commentator Robin Gray had a conversation in his box with an inaudible colleague and left the mike on, he did not say anything slanderous about anybody, leaving his eager audience on tenterhooks.

Gaydon's Farm 8 year olds and over Tweseldown Racing Club Members for Veteran and Novice Riders & the City Of London Club Members Race
On this card last year, Rhythm King was dominating one of the maidens when coming to grief, but he made up for it with an impressive success in this race, which was probably more notable for quantity of contenders
(15) than quality. He led at the eleventh and gradually drew clear without getting at all flustered.
His case was helped greatly by departure of some realistic dangers early on. Jolly Giant unseated at the second, and Norksi Lad and Jack Of Kilcash were carried out when Astley Gold opted to go around the fourth fence instead of the traditional over. Boyne Banks finished strongly for second, far enough behind that the ten pounds over weight did not cost him the race, with Tubber Roads third. Pick of the paddock was Landing Rights, but on course he pulled much too hard to get home.

It's that man again - Godfrey Maundrell takes the opening Novice & Veteran Rider's race on the impressive Rhythm King

Astaire & Partners Mens Open
The winner of this race, stepping up into open company, was the Caroline Bailey trained Agua Ardente.
He impressed in that he jumped well and was well clear of the other finishers, but had Father Tom not fallen at the last, just having whittled down a six length deficit in next to no time, Agua Ardente would have been no more than an encouraging runner-up. To adopt a clichi, the fences are there to be jumped, and Father Tom's misfortune was that it was his only real mistake in the race. Tanager, who looked like the race was needed, inherited second, just in front of Dancing Fosenby, whose hunter chase win at Folkestone may be forcing him into tougher standards than he is quite up to.

Agua Ardente and Rowan Cope land the Mens Open

Friends of Tweseldown Ladies Open
Only five lined up, but the race was competitive in that the horses were all of similar standards, and exciting in that the race was decided by a late jumping faux pas. The horse that suffered was Perkys Pride, who showed promise in a short, two run season last time, and was well backed in the ring. Teme Willow had ensured a decent pace, and when he began to back pedal three out, Perkys Pride went for home, and still had a few lengths in hand on the pursuit when he got the next all wrong and unseated his rider. This left the once decent ultra-staying chaser You're Agoodun to inherit the prize. He was travelling easily when he crossed the line, but Heather Irving had given him a waiting ride and he was far from the fastest thing on four legs at his peak, so it cannot be claimed that he was certain to have reeled in Perkys Pride. Cedar Chief was second, and will be fitter for the exertions, from Wink And Whisper, with Teme Willow plodding on for fourth.

Heather Irving is looking round for the rest on You're Agoodun as she takes the Ladies Open from Cedar Chief, Wink And Whisper and Teme Willow

Friends of Tweseldown, Tweseldown Racing Club Members Moderate
The field of six, from an entry of sixteen was a bit disappointing, but perhaps the presence of six year old Killard Point, a dual winner last season, scared off the opposition. Those who quaked in their boots were proven correct, and he ended up comprehensively stuffing some modest opposition for a Caroline Bailey-Rowan Cope double. The most interesting rival was Cherry Brandy, who won a bumper in 2000, but managed only two runs since. He was very keen to get on with this rare visit to a racecourse, but did not have a chance to prove his stamina, as he screwed awkwardly over the tenth, and came to earth geographically relocated from where Julian Pritchard's momentum took him. Given that he was fighting hard for his head, his jumping had been sound enough up to then, but when required to adjust to one, Cherry Brandy did not seem to really be concentrating sufficiently. The rest all finished very tired, with Forest Fortress, who took 13 attempts to open her winning account, just edging out Party Lad, whose run of pulled ups does not advertise Forest Fortress' form terribly well.

Killard Point is clear of the field in the Club Members Moderate - it's a double for Rowan Cope and Caroline Bailey

Richard Robinson Horse Transport Open Maiden (Div I)
The race was won by a horse that really can be the punters friend. This was Vicar's Lad, who had to be saddled in the parade ring, and did his best to prevent it happening, before getting very sweaty prior to the race. My recollection was that he was similarly ill-behaved when running over hurdles, so was not as put off by it as some may have been as it would not stop him running to his known ability, and probably added a bit to his price. He took a very fierce hold, but had enough in the tank to move through to lead between the last two fences and nick a victory. The lasting impression is that if Vicar's Lad gets his brain in gear, there is a lot of raw talent to be worked with. Brownies Tale, who had set a slow pace (not apparently in the winners favour) was second, with French Boy lumbering on for third, which would have been a fair comeback after missing 2003 were it not for the fact that he looked fit and is still a maiden having just turned twelve. There was a bit of a punt on Master Ginger Pop but as soon as the tempo quickened he was struggling, and eventually pulled up.

Vicar's Lad forges clear for Julian Pritchard in the Maiden Div 1

Richard Robinson Horse Transport Open Maiden (Div II)
A very strange race, with the manner of it's finish asking more questions about the runners than it answered, as Warren Hill set a very strong pace and came to a virtual stop three out (going from a clear lead to struggling in fourth within less than a
furlong) rallying and regaining second close to the line - not normal for an exhausted runner on a stiff, uphill finish. The horse that took the lead three out, Commander Clover, had two nondescript runs to his name, and may not get the three miles, as he capitulated quickly from the last into third place, allowing Kalypso De Laugere, previously a runner-up at Tweseldown, to get his first win. As far as Warren Hill is concerned, he jumped well for a horse that fell in two of his four outings last season, so has some positives to bring from the race. Distant fourth was King Freddy, who is no world beater but looked as if he was not 100% fit for this. so ought to be able to improve on it.

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