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Saturday 11th February 2006

by Arthur Shone

What a difference a fortnight made to the conditions at Weston Park! Two weeks ago, the course had to survive two inspections because of frost in the ground before going ahead. Yesterday there were no problems and we had some much needed rain, in fact it hardly stopped throughout the days sport. After the second race, the clerk of the course Martin Kemp changed the going to “Good” and it was clear from the times that the rain was getting into the ground, with testing conditions towards the end of the card for both horses and racegoers.

Hanley Swan trainer Andy Hobbs trained three winners in a day at Maisemore Park twice last season and he completed a hat trick of winners for the first time here at Weston Park. Two of those wins were for owner Clive Hitchings, who is his landlord.

Premium First provided the first leg in the Intermediate. The handsome son of Naheez made every yard from flag fall under Julian Pritchard to record a bloodless victory over Earl Of Buckingham by 25 lengths. Abbey Days would have been second had he not fallen at the last fence. Hitchings was delighted with his winner when I spoke to him afterwards, he said,” Heather ( Dalton) bought him for me at the Doncaster Sales and she trained him for me under rules, where he won a bumper. I decided that I would like to run him in point to points and his main target will be the Hiscox final on May 3 rd at Cheltenham now that he has qualified.”

The second leg came in the Mens’ Open with the impressive Saint Reverien who quickened up readily two from home under Adrian Wintle to beat the area champion horse Darnil with Richard Burton in the plate by 15 lengths, easing down. Hobbs said afterwards that his charge had now earned a crack at Lady Dudley Cup, the holy grail of pointing, at Chaddesley Corbett and on this evidence it is going to take a good horse to lower the Silver Rainbow gelding’s colours.

Hobbs went on to complete the treble with Rathcoole Dancer in the Restricted, who quickened up nicely from three out to beat Tengrand, under Richard Burton, by 20 lengths with Joe Lively a further 15 lengths back in third. The winner provided 19 year old Adam Brown with his first ever success as a rider. He missed most of last season with a broken leg and to round off a good day for the Brown family the horse is owned by his father Adrian.

After two seconds, the national and area champion rider Richard Burton found the winners enclosure with Rebel Lad in the first division of the Confined Maiden, who beat the only other finisher Hot Chocolat under Tom Houlbrook by 3 lengths. The winner was unlucky here a fortnight ago when falling at the last fence with the race in the bag. Winning trainer Caroline Robinson was pleased that her charge had put in a clear round this time and she now plans to give him a break before finding a Restricted race for him. The runner up from the Summerwood yard of Gordie Edwards should not be long in winning on this evidence. Rebel Lad is owned by a syndicate from Clitheroe consisting of Marian Renaghan, Simon Nightingale and Richard Lane.

Half an hour later trainer Gordie Edwards found himself in the winners enclosure following the very comfortable success of Badger under Ben Shaw who found a nice turn of foot from two out for a 5 length victory over Minigaff and Gary Hanmer. Blazing Saddles was a further 8 lengths back in third. Edwards yard was plagued by the dreaded virus last season and it was no wonder the first thing the trainer said when he greeted his winner was, “We needed that.” The horse is owned jointly by the trainer and his former next door neighbour from Walcot, Liz Bayley, who was venturing into racehorse ownership for the first time and yesterday was her first runner. The day before the race rider Ben Shaw had crashed into her car and written it off, he told her that he’d make it up to her at Weston Park and he was true to his word.

There was a cracking finish to the Ladies Open between the prolific winner Upton Adventure under Emma James and Titus Bramble with Claire Allen in the plate. After a prolonged battle, it was only on the run in that the latter prevailed by two lengths. Double Account was a further 12 lengths back in third. The winner is trained by one of the all time great trainers of pointers Dick Bainbridge and Allen, who was the national champion rider last season, will celebrate her 20 th birthday a day after this fixture.

The opening Members race was a non event because it was a walk over. The only horse to turn up was the Captain Jack, who is trained at Wolverhampton by Paul Jones ridden by Gary Hanmer for owner Michael Parr. The French bred gelding had won previously last month at Higham.


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