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Sunday 10th April 2005
by Simon McInnes

Decent going ensured very respectable size fields for four of the races, although walking parts of the course, plus the effects of the pony racing, showed that it was in fact very patchy. Officially good to soft, some parts, especially around the area where the field pass through gaps in the hedge, were much softer, and the packed ground after the last seemed a touch more solid.

Fynmores Hunt Race
1: Balau 2: Glory Trail 3: Follow The Trend
winner owned by C Cheeseman, trained by Mrs A Hickman, ridden by Peter Bull
Of the ten original entries, nine went to post for this, including four from the Di Grissell yard. Her yard supplied the sole defector, presumably because they had run out of people ride, saddle up, lead up etc. Three of the pilots were having their first ride, and one, Zoe Anthony took a heavy fall at the second, causing that fence to be omitted on the subsequent two visits whilst she was attended to. The favourite, Balau, was hampered in the incident, and made one or two hairy jumps before asserting his superiority over the last four fences. Glory Trail was a bit short of pace early on but plugged away and forced the winner to exert himself a bit towards the end. Despite a series of non-completions, Follow The Trend was given a positive ride but is clearly a shadow of his former self. Newcomer Charlotte Marshall completed well adrift on Dixon Varner, and his fellow fifteen year old Jojo consented to let Gareth Barker get round this year. The rider is, as far as I know, our only race-riding MP, which is laudable, but not helping reduce the public perception of politicians as a bunch of feckless dimwits.

Follow The Trend leads Cleverest over the fourth, but the cleverest are waiting patiently behind- Balau in purple & orange and Glory Trail in pink & mauve in the distance on the left

Charles Wells Restricted
1: Jac An Ree 2: Honour Spider
winner owned by C Newport, T Edmonds & J Draper, trained by Mrs D Grissell, ridden by Philip Hall
Only four lined up, but they were a very strong quartet for a restricted at Catsfield. Punters were required to be patient as the prices opened with over-rounds in the region of 170%(!) but settled down near the off to a more realistic 112%, which meant that all four drifted in the betting. Heaven knows what television's more hysterical betting analysts would have made of it. Favourite Magniolia jumped left, hung left on the longer runs between fences and eventually ducked out to his left when beaten three from home. Whether he is simply mentally in need of growing up or had a physical problem remains to be seen, but he had looked useful in his two earlier runs - and his yard has not hit the all-conquering form of 2004 this season. The finish was decided by a neck, and the pair jumped the last together, with both of them nosing in front at various stages on the run in. A good effort from Jac An Ree, as his easy maiden win had come against far less challenging opponents. Honourable Spider, who stood out in the paddock with Magniolia, lost nothing in defeat in only his second ever race and as a mere six year old looks to have a big future ahead of him. I would also like to commend the sponsors for being both supporters of pointing and brewers of Bombardier. Well done.

Three of the field are, left to right, John The Mole, Jac An Ree & Honourable Spider breaking their fearful symmetry. So that must be Magniolia's feet behind them

Barrett's Of Ashford Men’s Open
1: Tricky Trevor 2: Cedar Chief 3: The Grey Baron
winner owned and trained by Mrs H Cobb, ridden by Philip York
This was not the greatest of Open races, and the winner was actually beaten in the Confined at the same fixture in 2004. He has not improved that much in the mean time! Having been in and out of the lead all the way, Tricky Trevor was clear two out, and apart from a mistake at the last, it was plain sailing to a degree not matching his name. It was another game effort from Cedar Chief, just beating off The Grey Baron on the run-in. There was plenty of money for East Anglian visitor Westfield John, but he had reminders quite early despite sporting blinkers, and never threatened to take a hand.

Kenny Davis leads slightly from Tricky Trevor (15) and Westfield John. Cedar Chief is the white faced menace uncharacteristically not taking an early lead

Calcutt Maclean Standen Ladies’ Open
1: Little Worsall 2: Heracles
winner owned by Mrs & Mrs F Marshall, trained by Mrs F Marshall, ridden by Hannah Grissell
As with the Restricted, four set off and only two finished. Little Worsall seems to be rediscovering his excellent form of 2003, with this being win number two of the season, but at the last Heracles was probably travelling the better as the pair were more or less level. The differences proved to be that Little Worsall jumped the last better and then Hannah Grissell was more effective in riding the finish and edged further clear all the way to the line. Heracles did not look like falling, but lacked the fluency over the obstacles of his conqueror. Fair Exchange got into a fair old sweat before the off and ran a lacklustre race until pulling up at the top of the hill before three out.

Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors Confined
1: Tell The Nipper 2: No Reward 3: Tubber Streams
winner owned and trained by Mrs C Gorman, ridden by Marcus Gorman
With only a Members win to his name since 2001, Tell The Nipper is not the force of old, but his rivals caught him in fine fettle for this, and he had the race in the bag a long way out. A moment of indecision at the last caused anxiety for his backers but the margin in the end was as wide as something quite wide indeed. No Reward was never going that well and got second due to perseverance rather than genius, and picked up sixty quid for second, which is really slight reward. Despite being placed last week, and catching the eye in the paddock today, Tubber Streams has not showed great talent on either occasion. The fourth placed horse, Gola Leader, was subject to a stewards enquiry, which accepted the explanation that he was outpaced in the back straight and ran on through beaten horses. In reality, Gola Leader conceded fifteen lengths before the first, made no attempt to close it and finished fresh as paint, whilst others wilted in front of him. It seemed more like a case of a very inexperienced jockey riding with a lack of confidence, and expect instant improvement if Gola Leader is turned out under one of the top pilots, as the horse has plenty of ability.

No Reward watches Tell The Nipper (right) scoot off to victory but decides Tubber Streams (maroon & red) is catchable

Grants Cherry Brandy Open Maiden
1: Give Us A Chance 2: Change The Plan 3: Selfcertified
winner owned by SP Tindall, trained by Mrs J Gordon, ridden by Chris Gordon
A huge field, by Catsfield standards, of thirteen contested this. Connections has heeded the plea in the winner's name, supplying a visor and a tongue tie, and also turning him out in good enough condition to win the best turned out. Having attended to his mental health, raised his sense of self worth and kept him sound for only his second run since 2003, they then saw Give Us A Chance rise to the occasion by readily seeing off the favourite, despite the mistake at the last that was obligatory on the day for horses clear of the field. Change The Plan did nothing wrong, just got beaten by a better horse. Youngster Selfcertified was making his seasonal debut after two pulled up runs last year and appears to be progressing. On his first run for two years, Rainy Day did very well, keeping tabs on the leaders until two out, at which point he was quickly pulled up. A very encouraging return. After an educational at Charing, Bella Flora jumped badly at the back, but has something to work on should the skill penny ever drop. Big Mossy, who is badly named as it should be Incredibly Vast Mossy, played up at the start and either refused or was withdrawn, and is one to be wary of.

The winner assumes command from Moss Campion, grey Divine Mist and cheekpieced Sugar Toi. The odd angle is because as I took the picture I saw a loose horse coming up very close to the rope rail, and felt my life expectancy would benfit from a quick stride backwards

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