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Saturday 24th March 2007
by Ian Marshall

A dull, dank and drizzly afternoon was enlivened by some quality racing involving a number of up and coming young horses and the Hiscox Intermediate in particular should throw up a few future winners.

The Hunt Members saw six horses come under orders and Niembro came on a bundle for his first start in points at Brocklesby Park last week to claim the honours under Miles Seston. Prominent throughout, Niembro dug deep to resist the challenge of Hi Up Brenkley on the run-in. Runner-up Hi Up Brenkley can never be discounted at this venue and kept responding to Richard Armson’s urging all the way to the line. Noel’s Pride (Nick Bell) in third was always playing catch up and lost ground at several fences. Jovian Pond and Martin Hilton completed in a tailed off fourth. Joves Shadow was disputing the lead when falling five from home, while Just Jove was becoming outpaced in third when unseating his rider at the third last.

There were 12 runners for a very interesting and informative Hiscox Intermediate. Richard Burton chalked up another victory on Whistling Straits. Quite a cosy three lengths was the winning margin as Whistling Straits quickened up nicely off a fast pace to put the disappointment of defeat at Bangor behind him. With Killarney Prince at the head of affairs, there was no hanging about and that one only gave best late on to be second. Peter Mann’s positive tactics soon had the field well strung out and he must take all the beating in a confined on good ground. True Legend was 18 lengths back in third, although Dickie Barrett eased him right down on the run-in once he was beaten. A less arduous event will see him in the winners enclosure again. These three had it to themselves for most of the journey. In fourth, Keenans Reserve (Gary Hanmer) was putting in his best work at the death. He should collect a restricted judged on today and the fact that he chased home the scopey Aaron’s Run at Eyton last time. Sunday Lunch was sixth and didn’t seem to be making any impression on the leaders when he came down. Tallow Bridge was pulled up with a circuit to go and something was clearly amiss. Rainbow Tree made too many mistakes, while Bulmer Bank was always towards the rear.

The Ladies Open brought together seven hopefuls. It was fast and furious and ex-chaser Sir Storm turned the tables on his conqueror from a fortnight ago here, Danaeve, in emphatic style. Sir Storm was well to the fore from flagfall and had plenty in reserve to draw right away from the penultimate obstacle. Jill Dawson’s charge has every possibility of following up provided the three miles is not too stiff a test. Danaeve seemed to run a bit in snatches for Sarah Phizacklea and was often not particularly fluent at his fences. He’s better than this. Free (Gemma Hutchinson) was driven along a fair way from home and was back in third. He ran a little flat. Move Over and Rachel Tutton were left behind in the final half mile, but did keep on for fourth. Sapega will strip a lot fitter next time. Azzemour got rid of Rachel Botterill before a circuit had been completed.

Just five horses faced the starter in the Mens Open, but a lack of quantity was more than made up for by the quality of the competitors, all of which had won in 2007. Court Adjourn scooted clear levelling up for the judge and a couple of sound leaps sealed a highly impressive success. After missing 2006, Court Adjourn was completing a hat-trick during the current campaign and it will be a good one that stops him making it four in a row. He would be a formidable opponent in a hunter chase and could take in one of pointing’s major prizes. Bedtime Boys, partnered by Joe Docker, had no answer to Court Adjourn from the home turn and had to settle for second. He should bounce back and enjoy an upturn in fortunes when he has sun and warmth on his back. Third-placed Harapour (Richard Hunnisett) was the only one of the quintet to be done for toe at the top of the hill, but won’t meet opponents of this calibre every week. He’d taken a Garthorpe confined earlier in the month. Torosay had made virtually every yard and still held a slight advantage when he capsized at the third last, bringing down Ask Bobby, who had yet to play his hand. Neither had been asked a serious question by their respective jockeys and it is impossible to predict how the race would have unfolded for the Holderness-qualified pair.

There was a big field of 17 for the Restricted, although it did contain some deadwood. The Accordion Man, making his debut for the Crow team, had too many guns for his rivals to triumph by three lengths. Richard Burton made it two out of two on the card and had The Accordion Man in the perfect position from the off and away from any trouble. We’ll no doubt be hearing a lot more of this good-looking young pointer in the future. The Accordion Man was bought privately having been led out unsold at 40,000gns at Cheltenham Sales in April of last year. Former trainer in Ireland Eamon Fehily felt that decent ground was necessary for The Accordion Man, which is why present connections have been patient with him. Teeton Bollinger, so impressive when landing a maiden on his last visit here, was a gallant second under Stuart Morris. This nice sort is bound to add to his tally in the near future. Ballyclement was a fast finishing third for Richard Armson. He isn’t easy to evaluate as he has appeared to have suspect stamina in the past. However, on both his appearances this month, Ballyclement has flown up the run-in to be placed and suggest that he can bag an event of this type. The fourth, Johnny Venture, made steady progress on the final lap under Simon Walker until having no more to give from the last. Having grabbed a maiden on a very different track to this at Dalton Park, he ought to be able to be found a less demanding heat. Bobbin was far from disgraced and there will be softer opportunities than this for him.

Division One of the 2m4f Maiden saw 11 horses go to post and there was a battle royal in the closing stages between two five-year-olds, Pharanto and Miles Seston and Bravery Scotch under Will Hill. Pharanto was stepping up from his promising debut at Welbeck and was courageous to come out on top in the head bob climax. There will be further improvement in Chris Bealby’s gelding. Pharanto was knocked down for 12,500gns at Doncaster Sales in May 2006. The win gave Miles a double on the day. Bravery Scotch lived up to his name, being brave in defeat to go down by the narrowest of margins. Compensation awaits. Walter’s Laddie in third, with Stuart Morris in the plate, couldn’t live with the front two when they quickened, but should get his head in front soon. Call Me A Lady had been given time to recover from a slog through a Horseheath bog and indicated that she was no lost cause. The Artful Fox never got competitive, whereas The Fast Frog departed at the 7th.

Nine horses lined up for Division Two the 2m4f Maiden and Alpha Lima drew away from the last to score under Simon Walker. Held up early, Alpha Lima made steady headway to take closer order coming down the hill. Staying on well, he should have no problems getting three miles in a restricted. Connections were astonished when this fellow ran out as an odds-on favourite last weekend as it was totally out of character. Alpha Lima was fulfilling the promise shown behind Young Claude at Charm Park and that one has since gone on to land a restricted as well. In second, Firion King took a strong grip in the hands of Mica Woods, but perhaps surprisingly still had a fair bit left in the tank in the home straight. He’ll be best suited by one of these short distance races if his Rules form is anything to go by and on this evidence ought to find a suitable opportunity soon. In third, Sovereign Quest again exhibited some ability for Richard Armson and this was a similar standard to his latest effort at Brocklesby Park. Smugglers’ Run (Dickie Barrett) in fourth didn’t do too badly, but probably needs more time. Essennbee again dropped away late on.

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