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South East Hunts Club
Sunday 25th February 2007
by Simon McInnes

photos by Adam Goodburn

Nearly three months after the season began, the south-east finally lurched into action, although the area has had some travellers into other areas, even in search of Cheltenham qualification. This belated start meant that despite recent bad weather there were few runners struggling for fitness. The conditions, however, wet but very holding, did produce Charing's usual deceptively testing experience.

Gillian Jarvis Club Members Maiden (4-7yo), 2m 4f
1: Peppershot 2:Laguna Beach 3: Beatle's About
Winner owned: Mrs KH York, trained & ridden: Philip York

When the betting commenced, Beatle's About was favourite on the back of promise shown in Ireland, but he took a market wander in the wake of support for Peppershot , who had not been shown up too badly under Rules a year earlier. The market leaders went clear at the top of the hill, with Laguna Beach being the only rival hanging in with them. Beatle's About was the first to cave in, around the third last and he was soon beaten off. From then on Peppershot gradually exerted his authority, although Laguna Beach was not given an unduly hard time in the vain pursuit. After two pulled ups with hints of promise last year, Laguna Beach seems to be getting there, but both of the first pair have a bit to prove as far as three mile races are concerned.

South East Bookmakers Members Restricted
1: Theatre Call 2: Tates Avenue 3: Hatsnall
Winner owned, trained & ridden: Godfrey Maundrell

This shaped up as a fairly decent Restricted, and ended with Theatre Call running out an impressive winner. The race was still in the balance when he put the wind right up the oppo by really pinging the fourth last, putting clear air between himself and the challengers. Tates Avenue, who had been near the front most of the way but struggled when swamped, rallied gamely down A20 side of the track, and posted his best effort by far in points, without ever quite convincing that he would get upsides Theatre Call. Hatsnall had made most of the running, jumping well, but he stopped rapidly three from home and sort of clambered over the last fences. The paddock pick was Barrels Pal, who had made a good start in the UK this year. His challenge ended when he really struggled to make it up the hill on the last lap, but he did manage to plod on for fourth. There appeared a modicum of market support for Jilted Lover, but he was not at all happy from the start and eventually pulled up. Presumably his name implies discomfort when the ground is holding.

Hobbs Parker Men's Open
1: Control Man 2: The Grey Baron 3: No Reward
Winner owned & ridden: Stuart Robinson, trained: Gina Weare

Control Man, having won an Open already this season, was a long odds-on chance, and avoided any misadventures to run as the market suggested. He eased clear from five out, and there was little danger of defeat as The Grey Baron was ridden to ensure second, and he was in turn a long way ahead of the rest.

Penny Peate Ladies' Open
1: Find Me Another 2: Sheriff's Friend 3: Indoux
Winner owned: Mrs C Stennett, Mrs C Aldridge & Mrs E King, trained: Simon Andrews, ridden: Amy Stennett

The betting said that Sheriff's Friend would win this as easily as Control Man took the last race, but it proved much more eventful. Challenging the winner coming down the hill, he made a horrendous blunder four out, from which Jenny Gordon defied the laws of physics to stay on board. This seemed to have ended any prospects of a win, but after the second last Find Me Another started to look very tired. Avoiding a mistake at the last, Amy Stennett got to work on the short run-in and just held on. There was quite a gap back to Indoux, who did not seem in the mood today, but he outstayed Stylish Dave, and Supreme Vintage, who has only won a maiden and probably did not take much outstaying.

Princess Grace Hospital (London) Members Conditions
1: Valley Henry 2: Quickswood 3: Carpet Ride
Winner owned & trained: Richard Gurney, ridden: Philip York

Stripping fitter than for his debut at Tweseldown, Valley Henry eventually won this with a bit in hand, after looking as if he was going to be in for a bit of a battle four from home. At the age of twelve, he was more sprightly and quick than the fourteen year old Quickswood, who in turn held off five year old whippersnapper Carpet Ride for second. With the first two known quantities, Carpet Ride's was the most interesting performance, confirming that his third in a hunter chase might not have been the fluke it appeared at the time. After winning four on the spin last year, Alittlemoreaction got a little more action than he wanted by falling when still in contention at about the time that Valley Henry burst into life. Had he completed, it would have been a fair run. After a quiet couple of years Westfield John caught the eye in the paddock and did manage fourth, but he was always labouring to stay on the heels of the leaders. His next run will give a better indication of whether his new yard has freshened him up.

Grants Cherry Brandy Members Maiden
1: Spanish Point 2: Master Alf 3: Parzando
Winner owned & trained: Di Grissell, ridden: Hannah Grissell

The three that stood out in the paddock ended up 1-2-3, but it was still an extraordinary effort from Spanish Point to be the 1. In holding ground that had been chopped up by five races and then rained on, he defied being unraced since 2004, a blunder at the ninth that seemed to cause his rider to lose an iron when there was a very short run to the next and a worse mistake a lap later which had Hannah Grissell clinging on around his neck. Dropping from second to fourth, he was amazingly back with the leader after the next and kept on very stoutly. The form of Spanish Point under Rules was promising and if he can put in a foot perfect round, he should be up to winning at a higher level. Master Alf's effort was not too bad, but the winner did give him every chance and he still could not take advantage. Parzando huffed and puffed his way round for third, which is becoming a habit, and he held that position as Rockley Beach ran like a non-stayer after cruising into contention rounding the top of the course. There were a few fell by the wayside, such as Hurricane Dipper, who would without this blemish be of interest in maidens, and On The Deck whose original connections were tempting Fate in a way that he/she/it does not tolerate.

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