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Sunday 4th June 2006

by Simon McInnes

photos by Graham Fisher

This was my first visit to the course, and what a good venue it is. The course is set in a natural amphitheatre, meaning that the spectators staying at the top of the hill get an excellent view - although it must be eerily quiet for the riders when a large crowd is there but nowhere near the racing. The view at track level is not too bad either. It was a seven race card, that began with some excellent quality racing and when the quality dipped, there were big fields to ensure that it was at least competitive. The vast horde of West Country raiders gave the locals as good as they got, but from a parochial point of view, the oft-maligned South East managed a first and a second from just two runners.

Unsworth Sugden Advertising & Matt Hampson Trust Members
1: Fami 2: Motcomb Jam 3: Ungaretti
Winner owned: Mrs PJ Hutchinson, trained: Patrick Hutchinson, ridden: Gemma Hutchinson

The meeting got off to an inauspicious start as after a brave attempt to over turn the odds-on favourite, Motcomb Jam sadly collapsed and died as he was pulling up. He had come pretty close to going out in a blaze of glory, but Fami just held on after fiddling the last and losing a lot of momentum. The winner's fencing had been sketchy early on, giving his supporters one or two nervous moments, and he quickly surrendered a three length lead with the problem at the final fence. Ungaretti, a stable mate of the winner, was always just off the pace and in the final lap at least, travelling not quite well enough to get in contention. One thing I noticed in the race card is that any horses with famous relations were noted as half-bro, and the fifth horse in this was called Gangster. Surely he would have been named Gangsta if they are truly keepin' it real in Market Harborough. Peace.

Fami and Gemma Hutchinson clear the last to win the Club Members Race

Tilton ATV Restricted
1: Cashari 2: Lance Toi 3: Victor One
Winner owned: Judy Wilson, trained: Bill Warner, ridden: Stuart Morris

An extraordinary race in many respects. Firstly the twelve runners managed to spread themselves over four pages of race card, which is not workable for anyone making notes. Trainers need to organise themselves better! Then anyone looking for clues in the betting would be confused as the favourite could have been, for a long time, any of four horses, depending on which bookie was deemed to carry most gravity. And then the race itself. The patterns in Cashari's form suggested he was due to pull up today, but he was in a more positive frame of mind than that, taking the lead two out and quickly opening an unassailable lead. Those around him began to fade, and Lance Toi finished like a train to pinch second. Lance Toi had been slowly away, and soon was six lengths behind the back of the pack. His young rider showed no inclination to do anything about this until four from the finish, by which time it was too late. The stewards imposed a fine for riding an ill-judged race, which looked fair enough (although as a 2½ mile winner, the plan may have been to conserve Lance Toi's stamina), and hopefully he will have learnt from this expensive patch of life's rich tapestry. After the third last, Victor One, who sweated up a bit and was ridden patiently but more realistically positioned than Lance Toi, seemed like he may go with the winner, but did not find an awful lot under pressure. He is only six, but it must be presumed that had he much in the way of pace, John Wade would be running him under Rules, like most of his stable mates. Of those near the head of the market, Velvet Skye was the one to run a comprehensively poor race.

Cashari and Stuart Morris take the Restricted

Budworth Brown/Westleigh Developments Ladies' Open
1: Father Tom 2: Quarter Masters 3: Trooper
Winner owned: R Sharpe & R Liddington, trained: Dick Baimbridge, ridden: Claire Allen

The title holder in this event returned to hold the crown for another year, showing plenty of zest for a twelve year old to repel the persistent challenge of Quarter Masters, a mere strippling of seven. The winner is a known quantity as a good horse and on this showing the future looks quite bright for Quarter Masters, as he refused to give in after Father Tom overtook him turning for home. Having been outpaced early on, Trooper finished with some purpose and might even have nabbed second with a competent jump at the last. He is overly imbued with stamina, and velociticiously challenged, but there must be races to be found for him somewhere as he makes the frame with admirable regularity. Militaire was up with the leaders when unseating after a bad blunder four out, but from the distant viewpoint near the weighing room, he appeared to be coming under a bit more pressure than his rivals.

Father Tom and Claire Allen follow up last year’s success in the Ladies Open

City Index Men's Open
1: Derrintogher Yank 2: Cape Stormer 3: Good Vintage
Winner owned & trained: Miss RS Reynolds, ridden: Dave Mansell

The decisive factor in this was a cracking ride from the front by Dave Mansell. With Derrintogher Yank often looking better in hunter chases at around two and a half miles, and Tourniquet taking him on for the lead, there was a real possibility of the early pace preventing the Yank from getting home. However, when Cape Stormer came with a serious challenge leaving the back straight, the winner refused to be blown away and clung on in a tight finish. This left Cape Stormer tied for the lead in the winning most horse table, a pretty good return for a horse that under Rules always looked on the verge of a massive sense of humour failure. Good Vintage lost his pitch a little on the far side but came home with some purpose to only just miss out on second. Be My Dream was set to make the frame but faded out of it once Good Vintage had gone by. The inconsistent Dare (form this season P11P), had an off day but took great exception to having the tongue strap fitted and he seems the sort who is unwilling to put these issues behind him when the starter sends them on their way.

Dave Mansell returns on Mens Open winner Derrintogher Yank followed in by runner up Cape Stormer

Gaskell Associates Intermediate
1: Les The Lizard 2: Lisnagar Hide 3: Teeton Prince
Winner owned Mr GB & Miss FM Tarry, trained: Jimmy Tarry, ridden: Lenny Hicks

This was not the most inspiring bunch ever assembled for an intermediate, and the one that initially caught the eye in the paddock, Lisnagar Hide - with the not insignificant benefit of Chris Gordon on board - blotted his copybook by getting quite sweaty in the paddock. When he approached the last having made every yard of the running, I was really rather upset at letting the lather dissuade me on a muggy day, but Lenny Hicks brought Les The Lizard to nose in front on landing and hang on in a good ding-dong finish of which I personally approved a great deal! Although having won his last two, Les The Lizard is a thirteen year old, which is a rather advanced age to be knocking about in this sort of company unless the horse has been unraceable or unwilling to take it seriously. On the subject of which, Teeton Mill did not deliver a lot under pressure, and given the limitations of the opposition, it would not have taken much for him to have been in the shake up. If not in the first two, Rakatia usually pulls up, so to be fourth is most uncharacteristic, and on a going day he had the form to win this.

A delighted Lenny Hicks returns after victory on Les The Lizard in the Intermediate

Living In The City Open Maiden, Div I
1: Milljaz 2: Miss Bobsleigh 3: Breathoffreshair
Winner owned: Miss P Cooper, trained: Dick Baimbridge, ridden: Geoff Barfoot-Saunt

Plenty of runners went to post, but for the most part they were the sort that are having a good day when they complete, and from a long way out the race was being fought ought between a couple of mares that have shown promise, with the rest also rans. Milljaz managed to assert her authority four from home, and had jumped too soundly for Miss Bobsleigh to expect the obstacles to slow her rival down. An impressive win, and no honour lost in defeat for the second. Breathoffreshair had not got round in his last five, and at least improved on that, but one or two runs when coming to grief hinted that he might have been more competitive with a clear round. It was a step forward at least. Pace setter Red Snow was very tired in the last furlong or so, but she tried to make a race of it, and deserved the minor accolade of fourth prize, had there have been one.

Milljaz (Geoff Barfoot-Saunt) has only the riderless Dromin for company when landing the Open Maiden 1

Living In The City Open Maiden, Div II
1: Tuareg 2: Thegeordieduchess 3: Foxton Brook
Winner owned: JB Robinson, trained: Di Grissell, ridden: Philip Hall

Something of an upset, as the ghostly presence of iron grey Tuareg emerged from Romney Marsh to sneak through the leading trio and poke his nose in front on the line. He always looks the part in the paddock, but had not really been progressing as would be expected, and maybe Tuareg is just shy and enjoyed not having lots of people right on the rails shouting encouragement at him. He might have had some luck, as Fulwell Hill was right in the shake up when going lame approaching the last, losing a certain spot somewhere in the frame. Thegeordieduchess has not shown very much talent before today but is only five, so could yet sustain this apparent improvement. Foxton Brook, who only appeared in the paddock as the others were preparing to leave it, was held up, made ground into serious proximity to the leaders and then found no more. Placed four times now in 2006 he is either amazingly one-paced and/or a very tricky customer. An eye catcher in the paddock was Fiery Dipper but he has not yet managed convert appearance into results, and did not take any sort of step forward today.

Tuareg and Philip Hall return after their victory in the Open Maiden Div 2


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