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Saturday 16th April 2005
by "Blondie"

As promised an excellent days racing with mainly high quality fields and according results. A colossal crowd turned out to watch this meeting, featuring the Lady Dudley Cup and they were not to be disappointed. The weather, although cold, stayed dry and the course was beautifully presented with perfect ground.

Hunt Members. 7 ran. Winners Time: 6.46
There was a romantic start to the day when Michael Keel proposed to his girlfriend, Charlotte Hurst, down at the start before the race (did she say yes…???).
The race itself was the only moderate affair of the day which was worsened by the 11 th fence departure of the favourite, Young Whack when he was brought down by Wondering Star’s fall. The remaining five pressed on at a average pace before Totland Bay and Tom Weston quickened clear after the ditch and despite Bordeline Breeze’s efforts to challenge before three out he remained second best and the eventual winner (Totland Bay) was soon twenty lengths clear and despite a mistake at the penultimate finished in blissful isolation. Mr Nabarro, generally inconsistent since his maiden and restricted win two seasons ago, finished a further twenty lengths behind Borderline Breeze and despite the seventeen pounds overweight put up by the fourth jockey- Optimistic Thinker finished in his own time to pick up fourth place. The novice Jack Watson, who partnered Borderline Breeze, later received the prize for the best placed Novice Rider of the day.

The Confined Race. 14 ran. Winners Time: 6.23
A fairly competitive event in which Sam Waley-Cohen continued his great form when completing another win. Unlucky when carried out at Guilsborough last week in the opening stages of the race, Irilut was always going well and despite his jockey dropping his stick before the last he held on well to deny Suaverof by one and a half lengths. The runner up ran a game race, flouting this seasons poor form to hold off Heavy Weather’s late challenge. The latter was unlucky to receive the start he did, when left fifteen lengths behind the rest of the field and it was Richard Burton’s skilful riding which got his mount there to challenge only to be denied by no more than three lengths. Paymaster, who showed so much promise in 2003 defied his insignificant come back run this season to finish a close fourth under Julian Pritchard. This race was marred by Harry Dowty’s fall from Catch The Bus, which caused him to be airlifted to hospital, but I’m glad to report that despite concussion and some stitches, he is fine.

The Lady Dudley Cup. 10 ran. Winners Time: 6.44
A relatively disappointing turn out in numbers but a high quality field of ten all the same. A delay of thirty minutes because of Harry Dowty’s injury meant the horses were in the paddock for a good forty minutes and this took its toll on Quality First who was reluctant to go to post and after a few messy attempts to start refused to cooperate completely and Richard Burton was left watching the rest of the field make their way to the first without him. Likewise, Little Ora suffered from the delays at post and he too was reluctant, jumping off fifteen lengths behind the field, he had to play catch up for the rest of the race and was never better than 10 lengths last. Despite the early departures the race proved gripping in its own way: Derringtogether Yank, set a decent pace up front under Dave Mansell with the remaining field tucked in three lengths behind him with most eyes fixed on the whipper in of this pack- Caught At Dawn. After Caught At Dawn’s imposing run at Aintree most were confident that he and his young jockey could win this meeting’s feature race for the second year running. However, this was not to be- his jumping was never fluent and despite some progress after the ditch on the second circuit, this came to nothing and he was well behind when he pulled up three from home. A disappointing performance after such an inspiring last run, yet the Aintree fences often do not leave a horse unchanged- for better or worse- and one must ask whether the previous weeks exertions inspired Caught At Dawn’s sub-standard run. Just Cliquot’s run however was anything but sub standard and the Gunner B mare was always travelling strongly. Tucked in behind the leaders she made stealthy headway on the outside to out-jump the then-leader Merry Path three out and despite a very game battle with the latter right up to the line, she found extra after the last and held on well under Gary Hanmer. The runner up ran a game race but simply had nothing else to give and remained twenty lengths clear of the long-time leader Derringtogether Yank and Galway.

Ladies Open. 9 ran. Winners Time: 6.50
Only nine went to post in this extended three miles event but there was already a strong battle on paper between Upton Adventure and Nick Shutt’s Golf Agent who have clashed in three previous races. The mare has come out on top twice, Golf Agent: once. By the fifth fence Henry Henbit and Welburn Boy were soon behind so the field was effectively down to seven . Upton Adventure disputed the lead at a more than moderate pace with Polo Pony under Reanna Lobley and the chasing pack could have been covered by the proverbial handkerchief. Always prominent, Golf Agent cruised through to threaten the long time leader Upton Adventure at the 16 th and the pair were soon twenty five lengths clear of their nearest rival. A length up before the penultimate Upton Adventure looked the winner, a length up going to the last would it be Golf Agent? The pair battled it out, neck and neck- in a most thrilling finish where neither deserved to lose until Golf Agent, under Rachel Reynolds, found extra- just twenty five yards from the line and the one and a half length distance separating them does not do last year’s leading mare justice. In their private battle on paper: Golf Agent- 2, Upton Adventure 2. Greenwich plugged on into third a few lengths ahead of Darien, under Hannah Watson who enjoyed her second ever winner just last weekend. Darien, running in only his second race over fences has undergone a wind operation since his less than threatening debut at Brokelsby Park on March 20, and despite finishing a toiling fourth in this company should not struggle to win at least a maiden if his sights are lowered in future.

The Restricted. 14 ran. Winners Time: 6.18
A decent event in which we saw the long time leader Tender Tangle’s sight of the winners enclosure snatched from him before the last by the fast finishing Springbrook Girl, under Adrian Wintle who defied a poor last run to hold off the runner up by one and a half lengths. The lightly raced Tender Tangle jumped well and should not struggle to win at least a restricted. Likewise Lance Toi, who finished third for the third time this season deserves to find a race after his relatively consistent efforts and if settling better shouldn’t fail to do so. The fourth placed New Lodge Express, under Tom Weston, should improve and could find a race in due course. The first two home, in a quick time, showed a decisive turn of foot and finishing in a convincing fashion should go on to win more races yet. Still only seven, the winner still has scope for such improvement.

Members Race for Mares Only. 10 ran. Winners Time: 6.14
Another decent contest which saw the winner Sherwood Rose receive compensation for coming up against the more than average, and highly thought of Classify last week. The grey, under Micky Harris, was always travelling strongly and stretched the field throughout the race before quickening clear three out to come home an impressive eight lengths clear without his jockey ever really moving. Suzie CreamCheese- another grey, ran a promising race back in second and it shouldn’t be long before this six year old finds another race. Likewise, Teeton Glaive ran encouragingly and continued her improved form this season to come home another twelve lengths behind the second placed horse. In a fast time, the winner has proved impressive at Siddington and Kimble and has followed up expectations in this event, but is yet to meet any real, proven opposition as of yet (other than Classify) and despite her winning in the right way her next few runs will prove important in telling her ability.

Open Maiden, Div 1. 15 ran. Winners Time: 6.28
A closely matched maiden with no obvious winner on paper. Shambob, who eventually came out on top was always prominent and ran on well- finding extra to defy the promising Strolling by half a length in a tight finish with Try to Wyn a further one and a half lengths back in third. Not an inspiring winning time but the first two home showed promising credentials and look to be going the right way. The close finish searched for a turn of foot and stamina and Shambob obliged despite his previous tendency to show a slight lack in gears. In the future, given his eye catching late headway Strolling should find a race of a similar standard to this.

Open Maiden Div 2. 16 ran. Winners Time: 6.18
The big field in this race ensured the fast pace with Crested Ollie and the well backed Four Opinions disputing early on. The five year old Royal Gunner, under William Hill, was always prominent and made good headway to improve on his first run by two placings with the favourite a battling length back in second. The latter jumped better on this run and if this continues he should find a race before much longer. Another eye catching performance was from Lord Hill, a five year old by Sir Harry Lewis, he was given a quiet but striking introduction under Richard Burton. Although behind early on, he was patiently ridden and jumped safely to make daunting headway after the 11 th before being pulled up four out. Another empathetic ride by Burton and Lord Hill should find a race soon. The winner, having come on from his debut run at the Oakley on March 12th, won in an impressively fast time for a maiden and given his inexperience there appears much scope for further improvement. A promising filled maiden with appropriate results.

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