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Southdown & Eridge
Sunday 2nd May 2009
by Simon McInnes

A mere 22 runners lined up over seven races, including the incredible rarity of none being qualified with the hunt staging the meeting (although people connected with the Southdown & Eridge did field a runner or two qualified elsewhere). Firm ground did not help, along with people's shyness of trying the course with unproven runners, and the loss of the favourite in the opener probably tipped one or two waverers against declaring as well. It does mean that every runner can get a mention, but now it is later in the year the extra leaves on the avenue of trees left most of the south side of the course out of sight.

Going: Firm

Race 1: Batcheller Thacker Open Maiden
1: Golding Hop
Winner owned & trained: R Thomson, ridden: Chris Thomson
Golding Hop: Has had more than his fair share of bad luck, but has done nothing to get excited about when circumstance has not conspired against him. He had the favourite struggling six out, and was left to complete alone from four starters on the run to the third fence from home. Amaya Silver: Has shown no ability to complete and was presumably second favourite because something had to be and she did have Philip Hall riding. She fell at the tenth. Podium Pete: On offer at long odds-on, he broke down badly after the fourth last. Jack Knappy: A veteran maiden, he posted one of his less dismal efforts last time, but today was a different story, jumping slowly at the fourth, and afterwards getting further and further behind, until he pulled up at halfway.

Race 2: CB Richard Ellis Restricted
1: Prince Rodney 2: Reymysterio 3: Lovely Day
Winner owned: Richard Britten-Long, trained: David Phelan, ridden: Will Hickman
Prince Rodney: Triumphed in the biggest field of the day, five runners (all of which completed), and after his double at Easter, it is clear that he has an affinity for Bank Holiday weekends. Even allowing for the absurd opening over-rounds that were shown all days, his drift from 4/6 to 6/4 was dramatic, and clearly unwarranted. Reymysterio: Made the running and was with the winner two out, but was outjumped at the final two fences and his traditional lack of resolve ensured that Prince Rodney would prevail. Lovely Day: After a blunder at the fifth, his jumping was not without concern, but he got round and kept on fairly strongly in the home straight. Being the only runner not wearing cheekpieces did not appear to harm his morale one iota. Master Shuil: After finally managing to struggle home in a maiden, this predictably proved a tougher task, which he failed, even though he completed yet again. Home Chat: Was a bit slow to jump off, and never quite managed to get comfortably in touch with the other four, largely because every yard she made up on the level, she gave away again at the fences, where she is either sloppy or slow to get from one side to the other.

Race 3: Highfields Farm Ladies' Open
1: Carryonharry 2: King Du Berlais
Winner owned: Mrs H Silk and R Purkis, trained: Emma Leppard, ridden: Cynthia Haydon
Carryonharry: After a couple of reverses and a fortunate win at Penshurst, he was actually displaced as favourite, which may have been a unique experience, although he was unaware of it. A mistake at the eleventh caused a moment of concern, but it was business as usual afterwards, and at each of the last two fences he had a slight lead and outjumped the sole remaining rival for pointing win number 19. King Du Berlais: Receiving no weight but eight years of youth to Carryonharry, he stalked the grey legend, but surprisingly failed to match the old timer for speed over the last quarter of a mile. Mai Cure: Led, and put plenty of daylight between herself and the other pair, but a blunder at the ninth took the wind out of her sails, and she gradually dropped out of contention.

Race 4: Volkswagen Touareg Men's Open
1: Master T 2: Letterman 3: Reflex Blue
Winner owned & ridden: Peter Bull, trained: Suzy Bull
Master T: Although a tricky customer at the best of times, he got his own way out in front, and never really looked like he was going to give way, as the ground was probably least inconvenient for him, compared to his rivals. With three wins and a couple of places to his name, his first pointing season has been rather more productive than those who have watched him mostly sulk, and occasionally try, round Plumpton and other locations in the past might have anticipated. Letterman: The grapevine was that connections thought long and hard about running, and it was fair to say that he was looked after in the race, with success not the be all and end all. His winning run ended, but as far as an assessment of his abilities goes, this race can be completely discounted from consideration. Reflex Blue: Tagged along in third for a long way and then fell away on the final lap. As Letterman was as good as pulled up on the run-in, he was not actually that far behind at the line, but it was a flattering statistic.

Race 5: Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members, Novice Riders
1: Possextown 2: Thoutmosis 3: Brigadier Du Bois
Winner owned: C McKenzie, trained: Samantha Gibbons, ridden: Will Hickman
Possextown: Failed to build on a promising early Rules career, but looked in fine shape for his pointing debut, and goes well fresh. The final margin of success was not vast, but he was much more dominant than the margin, as he was heavily eased on the run-in after having surged clear about three furlongs from the finish. Thoutmosis: Did not look to be travelling especially well at any point in the race, but at least he plugged away with a fair degree of commitment, and that allowed him to nick an unlikely runner-up spot on the run-in: Brigadier Du Bois: Was upsides Possextown as late as the third from home, but winning has never been very high up his agenda, irrespective of who trains and rides him, and he gave up quite readily when it mattered, also managing to lose second place. River Bailiff: Won a novice riders race at the course in the past, even though his staying power has been questionable, but he ran no sort of race this time.

Race 6: Robert Wilkins Countryside Alliance Club Members
1: Dad Says Heazle
Winner owned: Mrs JA Donegan, trained: Veronica Park, ridden: Steve Spice
Dad Says Heazle: Walked over

Race 7: "Gone Away" Intermediate
1: Onyx D'Ace 2: Luke Lively
Winner owned: Mrs M Brightwell, Lady Quilter & Mr S Stiff, trained: Martin Ward, ridden: Rupert Stearn
Onyx D'Ace: Won an appropriately named race as after the walkover, and this being a match, many of the crowd and bookies, horses, trainers etc had gone away. He made all and comfortably won a race contested by two Granta Harriers' horses. Luke Lively: Even in this race, he had a tough task on his hands, and after poodling around about two lengths behind the other runner, he was outpaced in the straight.

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