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Sunday 7th May 2006

by Ian Marshall

Fernie Gold Cup day is always a big occasion and there was a massive crowd in attendance to see some outstanding performers on show. Extensive watering, coupled with overnight rain, left the course in supreme condition and going that was officially Good, Good to Soft in Places allowed horses to make a healthy hoofprint. Nice, inviting fences, which need jumping nonetheless, are widely appreciated and trainers understandably have no concerns about introducing newcomers here. As befitting a meeting such as this, there was an excellent race commentator in Mark Johnson.

There were four runners in the Hunt race, three of which were owned and trained by Patrick Millington. However, it was the other participant, Fami, that came home in front at his leisure by 20 lengths in the hands of Gemma Hutchinson. Owned by her mother and trained by her father, Fami was winning this race for the second year in a row. Fami also had the misfortune to give Gemma a terrible fall at Garthorpe last year, but she has recovered from her serious injuries and returned as good as ever. Judge Reilly, partnered by his owner, was second and Mount Kimble (Rowan Cope) third. Donrico was fourth.

The Confined was an intriguing contest and there were four last time out winners among the 12-strong line-up. Teeton Glaive was one of these and she was hugely impressive in racking up a four-timer. She might be 11, but is still on a steady upward curve and made light of a six pound penalty to move on to eight wins in total in points. Victories in 2006 at Mollington, Garthorpe and now twice at this venue have given her an enviable reputation. Stuart Morris was the assured pilot and, once they took the lead having made stealthy headway on the final circuit, drew right away for a clear cut triumph. In second were Ungaretti and Sam Hutchinson. They were no match for the winner, but Ungaretti kept boxing on and the pair are a useful combination. Third-placed Moscow’s Return did most of the donkey work at the head of affairs under Nick Pearce and, whilst his win ratio is poor, he rarely puts in a tame effort. Fourth were The Stickler and Alex Merriam, who are admirably consistent. At the age of seven, there will be more to come from The Stickler. Parsonhumfrywebber lost interest quickly, having been prominent to halfway.

15 horses faced the starter for the Confined Maiden, which had a bunch finish. The Painkiller got off the mark for the Bealby team, with Matt Briggs doing the steering. The Painkiller’s initial outing at the Easter fixture had been full of encouragement and the five-year-old showed today that the experience had done him no harm. He has a bright future ahead of him and might next head to Doncaster Sales. Arctic Summer was guided into second yet again by Jon Trice-Rolph. This horse can’t be written off, although a record of 24 starts without a win tells its own story. The one to take out of the race could be Teeton Bollinger in third. He made a horlicks of the penultimate obstacle, which rider Dickie Barrett did well to survive. Teeton Bollinger had loomed up dangerously at the time, but the blunder cost him any chance of victory on his debut and owner Joan Tice looks to have another fine recruit on her hands. Miss Bobsleigh (Stuart Morris) in fourth is coming on. Dromin was putting in his best work at the death. Jockey Rowan Cope deserves a medal for perseverance as this fellow was driven along virtually from flagfall, yet was as close as three lengths or so to the winner at the line. Dromin’s usual blinkers had to be removed in the paddock as they hadn’t been declared at declaration time. French Bey was to the fore throughout, but could only run on at the one pace in the home straight. Blazing Saddles did OK, but Fusion Of Tunes failed to get competitive and the favourite Furze Hill didn’t reach a challenging position.

A bumper field of 20, bang on the safety limit, came under orders for the Fernie Gold Cup over four miles and the honours headed up to Yorkshire via the scintillating mare Duchess Account. She has guts and determination in abundance and picked off her rivals one by one on the last lap, jumping the final fence a length down before forging ahead on the run-in to register her eighth victory in points. Astutely handled by Emma Brader, Duchess Account stuck to the inside like a limpet, saving ground at every corner. She is a true family horse for the Braders as she is owned by Ralph, trained by Charles, prepared by Gilda, led up by Charlotte and ridden by Emma. With no distance seeming too far for the home bred, bookmakers were taking no chances, yet Duchess Account still attracted support in to 5-4. El Lute made a bold bid for glory under a positive ride from Richard Collinson. He might have gone off at a fancy price, but this was no shock as stamina has often appeared to be his forte. El Lute remains eligible for restricteds and could find one on a long course. Trooper in third has been sweetened up by the change of surroundings to Tony Woodward. Trooper was called some names under Rules, but at least a confined must surely be on the horizon as he has been knocking on the door all year. Teeton Priceless (Sam Jones) was fourth and she can add to her tally of seven wins between the flags. Splash And Dash appeared to be a big danger coming down the hill, but he hit a wall and might not have got home. Wonder Weasel wasn’t disgraced and Cmewin stayed on past beaten horses.

14 runners went to post for the Restricted and there was a popular winner in King Freddy under Peter Bennett. This was a marked improvement on King Freddy’s previous outing at Clifton. Velvet Skye and man of the moment Sam Jones were second. It is difficult to quite know what to make of this race as the runner-up had also been below par earlier in the campaign. Third was Treble Trouble, with Patrick Millington in the saddle, who faded from the final turn, having taken closer order down the back stretch. Currow Kate (Oliver Marsh) was back in fourth. Teeton Swansong beat a hasty retreat from the top of the hill and appeared to be unsound afterwards. Maestro Please was never going and is better than this.

The Open Maiden featured 13 runners and could throw up a few useful types. Successful was Needs Time for Tim Lane. Lady Connell’s youngster might still be backward, but he certainly has an engine and was value for more than the winning distance of 15 lengths as he lost a lot of ground running wide at the last two bends. The grey is likely to be even better next year with another summer on his back. Southern raiders from Sally Alner’s stable filled second and third spots. Mrs O’Connell (Ian Canin) in second hit the last couple of fences or she would have been much nearer. She wasn’t given a hard time once Needs Time had flown and made a very encouraging debut. Mrs O’Connell caught the eye in the paddock as a decent sort as well. In third was Bondsley (Josh Guerriero), who received plenty of support in the ring on the back of his recent second at Littlewindsor. However, his jumping went to pieces and he could never get in a blow at the winner. Bold Jogger (James Owen) in fourth did all right. Ballynonty was close enough if good enough when he rooted four out and was nursed home from that point. A bad mistake knocked the stuffing out of Miss Trooper.


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