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Mid Surrey Farmers Drag
Sunday 29th March 2009
by Simon McInnes

This proved to be quite an odd meeting. It began with a couple of very uneventful, winning favourite races, continued with a couple of poorly supported opens, and concluded with a very eventful restricted, and a nearly as chaotic maiden. A classic case of lulling people into a false sense of security and then shock them at the conclusion.

Going: Good to Soft
Race 1: Goring Hotel Members
1: Say Grace 2: Native Performance 3: Exodous
Winner owned: Simon Tindall, trained & ridden: Nick Pearce
Combining this race with the Southdown & Eridge still only produced four runners and the odds-on Say Grace obliged with some comfort. She had won but a lowly mares' maiden, so the ease of her success indicates that the enigmatic Exodous did not run up to the standards that he intermittently shows in not winning opens, losing many lengths jumping left six from home and being nursed home from there. Native Performance did not jump well enough, although when the commentator observed that he may have learnt from a couple of early errors, it did overlook the fact that at the age of fourteen, Native Performance is probably not learning many new things at all.

Race 2: Countryside Alliance Club Members
1: Letterman 2: A Little Bit Of Hush 3: Bucket Awl
Winner owned: Simon Tindall, trained & ridden: Nick Pearce
A brief interpretation of the betting said that Letterman wins, Bucket Awl is clear second and the other quartet are something of an irrelevance. The only way that the race worked out differently was an above par effort from A Little Bit Of Hush. He was upside Letterman at the last, where his jockey lost his whip, but the manner in which Letterman sped clear after the fence rendered the loss of kit irrelevant. Bucket Awl was done for toe from the second last, but for his first run of the season it was a sound effort.

Race 3: Global Food Technologies Men's Open
1: Noakarad De Verzee 2: Bee An Bee
Winner owned & ridden: David Maxwell, trained: Kim Smyly
To nobody's surprise, the presence of Bee An Bee, pursuing his triple hat trick, scared off all but one rival (there were only seven entries). The local hero was around about a 1/7 chance, and had already seen off Noakarad De Verzee a couple of times. However, David Maxwell got the tactics just right, tracking Bee An Bee two lengths down until the second last, laying down a challenge and having a better turn of foot on the run-in. Hopefully this first sign of vulnerability in a long while will encourage a few more people to take on Bee An Bee in future. One thought was that Bee An Bee could have set a stronger pace, but the time was joint fastest of the day, which suggests that the pair went adequately quickly.

Race 4: Highfields Farm Ladies' Open
1: Carryonharry 2: Reflex Blue
Winner owned: Mrs H Silk & Mr R Purkis, trained: Emma Leppard, ridden: Cynthia Haydon
The theory that one defeat begets tougher competition was rather torpedoed one race after it took root, as defeat for Carryonharry last time did not produce more than two rivals for this race. Reflex Blue weakened after two miles, and Brendar's probably vain chase ended with a fall five out. And thus Carryonharry does indeed carry on his reign of terror in Ladies' Opens. If an Italian prime minister retained power for this long, nobody would believe that it was all above board!

Race 5: Premiere UK Restricted
1: Captain's Legacy 2: Reymysterio 3: Its All About Luck
Winner owned: Chartwell Racing Club, trained: Emma Leppard, ridden: Peter Bull
The story of this race is neatly summarised in the name of the horse that trailed in a tailed off third. Coming around the tight final bend, Pingaro De La Vire was overtaking on the outside and travelling better than his rivals. Alas, the steering was clearly not as easy as it appeared, as the saddled slipped badly, decanting David Maxwell and ending up under the horse's belly. Not only did this cost him a win, but in a state of presumed confusion, he veered right across the course, first hampering Captain's Legacy and then Reymysterio. Not only did Captain's Legacy have the benefit of getting into the clear first, but it does not take too much inconvenience to persuade Reymysterio to throw in the towel, and that he did. Even allowing for the good fortune that came his way, the winner ran quite well, and the next step up in class may not be beyond him - although some postings on the area website forum suggest that the south-east as a drought of Intermediates, which would be the ideal next step.

Race 6: Ward-Thomas Removals Ltd Open Maiden
1: Star Gift 2: Trenley Lawn 3: Prince Rodney
Winner owned: Mrs C Hall, Mrs W Cooper, Mrs P Wilkins, trained & ridden: Philip Hall
A couple of significant incidents, from which there was no news of any serious harm being done, were key in forming the shape of the race. At the third fence Carmel Lyne made a dramatic blunder which catapulted Barry Bentley from the saddle in a style which produces award winning photography if any game snapper makes the walk to the furthest part of the course. And not long after, with a couple of laps remaining, the loose horse dived across the course, breaking through the safety netting into the horsebox park, and unfortunately taking Carvilla and Golding Hop with her. Meanwhile second favourite Feeling Friday (brought down on debut, but significantly piloted by Ben Pollock today) was labouring along in rear - he jumped fairly soundly, if cautiously, but could not really run very fast. This left Star Gift (second twice so far this season) to get the better of Trenley Lawn at the finish, with the latter confirming the improvement shown last time, which Say Grace had endorsed earlier. Prince Rodney was left third when Crooked Brook refused at the second last.

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