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Southdown & Eridge
Sunday 2nd March 2008
by Simon McInnes
photos by Adam Goodburn

Another pleasant spring day at Godstone, although this one really was spring, and despite an absence of much rain, the course looked to be in decent nick, resulting in another improved turnout of runners.

Going: Good

Race1: Churston Heard Open Maiden (4-7 year olds, 2m 4f)
1: Glenbower Woods 2: Iphar 3: The Local Prince
Winner owned: Dr C Hargreaves, trained: Di Grissell, ridden: Philip Hall
Apart from Iphar, who his doing a fine job of pursuing his number one objective - retaining his maiden status, there were only bare smatterings of interesting events in the runners varied histories, but on his UK debut, Glenbower Woods found an easier opportunity than the sort he had been tackling in Ireland, and ran out a ready enough winner. Lillie Lou’s chances of replicating the effort at Charing last week ended at the first. The Local Prince was going well in contention as they dipped out of view but was very hesitant at the open ditch four from home and quickly lost plenty of ground. He did appear to run on at the end, but the two in front were not being given a hard time and the rise to the winning line can cause an eased horse to stop sharply.

Race 2: Mitchell & Cooper Confined
1: Nathos 2: Splash And Dash 3: Old Kilminchy
Winner owned: Mrs & Mrs AC Kemp, trained & ridden: Heather Kemp
The first of several eventful finishes to the day, as Lord Atterbury had the race at his mercy when he fell two from home. Jockey Stuart Robinson initially looked as if he may have done himself a mischief, but thoughts of later decent rides caused him to leap to his feet with the alacrity of a Portuguese footballer whose fouler has just been booked. The suspense was not over as Nathos had become very inclined to look after himself before he went pointing and Heather Kemp was keen to coax him home whilst avoiding any means that Nathos could interpret it as being forced. As a consequence, Splash And Dash got very close by the line, but never within a length. A younger and more demonstrative jockey might have turned the result around.

Race 3: Mercedes-Benz Ladies’ Open
1: Carryonharry 2: Scare Lotte 3: Persian King
Winner owned: Mrs H Silk & Mr RK Purkis, trained: Emma Leppard, ridden: Cynthia Haydon
Another race, another talking point in the finish. Frontenac took a heavy fall at the twelfth, which would be the final fence a lap later, and rider Michelle Woods was on the ground and not moving, so the fence was dolled off. The trouble was that when the leading pair turned into the straight, a series of circumstances conspired to affect the outcome. Firstly, the last two fences are quite close, so there is not much room to signal the omission to the riders. Secondly, Scare Lotte came round the turn unusually tight to the inner (momentum in a head to head finish usually causes runners, e.g. Carryonharry here, to swing a bit wide off the turn. Thirdly, the flagman was understandably disinclined to stand in the middle of the racing line, so was off to the riders’ right. Fourthly, the fence has to be bypassed on the left, so having attracted the attention to one direction, in a short gap the horses have to veer sharply in the other. Cynthia Haydon spotted it first and had a more direct route on the outer, but Clare Hobson on the runner-up either did not notice the situation as quickly or possibly started to go to the right of the fence. Alas, Scare Lotte ran on really well receiving a stone and six years from Carryonharry, being pipped on the line, probably by less than the distance conceded, to the dismay of her backers and no doubt her jockey as well.

Race 4: Highfields Farm Men's Open
1: Bee An Bee 2: Noakarad De Verzee 3: Kadount
Winner owned & trained: David Robinson, ridden: Stuart Robinson
After his aberration at Charing last week, this was pretty much plain sailing for Bee An Bee, seeing off a couple of useful opponents in the process. Maybe he was less nervous of running alongside the A25 than the A20? As he has no history of a right-handed bias, can there be any other explanation?

Race 5: Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Novice Riders
1: Moving Earth 2: Buckland Boy 3: New Lodge Express
Winner owned: Mrs Joyce Hulse, trained: Simon Andrews, ridden: Georgina Andrews
The occasionally stroppy Moving Earth must watch his diminutive rider approach and think to himself that ‘this is going to be a piece of cake.’ But with this second win, and a smattering of places to her name, Georgina Andrews has made a very decent start to her riding career, and impressed with her handling of the horse, whose excitability in the paddock was unseemly for a venerable gentleman like himself. Buckland Boy came from a little off the pace, but second was probably his best possible position. Dual open winner Heaven Is Above made no impact under his debutant rider, Indoux lapsed into a dreadful sulk after a lap and poor old Tregastel had the insult of his trainer and part owner opting to ride Militaire, who has been in dismal form. Have these people never heard of sports psychology?

Race 6: CBRE/Pantiles Restricted
1: Rockville 2: Clover Bay 3: Lord Philip
Winner owned & trained: Nigel Padfield, ridden: James Owen
Not for the first time this season, and surely not the last, the Restricted was populated by horses that owed their elimination from maiden company more to luck and opportunism than to skill and excellence. However, with the first four home having form this season of PP, P3PP, U and PP3 (and the total for the field being 18 runs, 4 completions), it seems the knack for being in the right place at the right time struck them again, with Rockville making the most of it.

Race 7: Wellingham Members
1: Little Farmer 2: Daretobedifferent
Winner owned: Mr C Hall, WA Cooper & Mrs P Wilkins, trained & ridden: Philip Hall
Little Farmer was not as fit as Daretobedifferent but form last season had an ability edge, and also edge in the saddle. After Our Samson gave Stuart Robinson another heavy fall with a lap to go, Little Farmer engaged in a game of cat and mouse, and had enough in reserve to hang on by a length or so, after the final obstacle was again bypassed. The bare form, given the way the race was run, is probably not to be interpreted literally in a bigger field.

Plus Points
Crosby (race 1)
Was readily seen off, but although fairly fit, looked less ready than much of the oppo and should improve for the race

Old Kilminchy (race 2)
Without shaping like he might win at any stage, Old Kilminchy did post his best performance of the season.

Persian King (race 3)
Another who put some disappointing early season form behind him.

Buckland Boy (race 5)
Is still young enough, and ran sufficiently well, to be a bit more than just a plodding schoolmaster for his novice rider

Down Arrows
Iphar (race 1)
Has done enough already this season to earn a permanent spot here, and about the only thing left to try is really fast ground.

The Local Prince (race 1)
Not a disastrous bare result, but it was achieved in an oddly discouraging fashion

Dead Mans Dante (race 3)
Did look like he needed the run, but dropped hopelessly out of contention much earlier than that justified.

Kadount (race 4)
Is not a certain stayer (although he did win a two and half mile hurdle at Hexham, which is hardly a stroll in the park), but his not really showing his good two milers pace either.

The field (race 6)
There was no evidence that this was anything other than a poor restricted and it will need a couple of improved efforts from participants to persuade otherwise.

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