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Southdown & Eridge
Sunday 11th April 2010
by Simon McInnes

For this course and this time of the season the number of runners was just about par, but there seemed to be one or two late decisions in the races towards the end of the card, as a sneaky peek at the decs blackboard after race one saw things looking a little ominous.

Going: Not displayed - looked to be good or perhaps a bit faster

Race 1: Bewl Water Open Maiden
1: Behind The Scenes 2: Tabloid 3: Red In Bed
Winner owned: Ms C O'Byrne, trained: Christine McCarthy, ridden: Philip Hall
The race was won by a refugee from Rules making his debut in points, and the fact that Behind The Scenes is trained at the course cannot have done his prospects any harm either (with his snippets of promise having been on heavy in Ireland, the condition of his home ground was a different matter entirely). The winner deserves a three length head start per race for being well named: By Presenting, out of Run For Cover. From the fourth last it was shaping up to be an exciting race as Behind The Scenes and Rio Novo, who was the paddock pick, went head to head. Rio Novo fell at the second last, when likely to get the worst of the argument, but he clearly has more ability than form of PPF suggests. That departure left Behind The Scenes miles clear of Tabloid, who himself had been on a run of non-completions and thus can be considered to have taken a step forward simply by getting round. In contrast, Red In Bed keeps finishing but rarely in threatening manner.

Race 2: Batcheller Thacker Restricted
1: Orient Legend 2: Florence Mary 3: Mr Moneymatters
Winner owned: P Riddle & P Clayton, trained: Jenny Pidgeon, ridden: Philip York
The progressing Orient Legend (football fans will chuckle at the oxymoron) picked up his second win of the season, with slightly less ease than seemed likely. He tried to kick clear of Florence Mary four out, and when she made a mistake at the next, it appeared that the job had been done. But even if she is not the quickest thing on four legs, nobody can criticise Florence Mary's effort so far and Orient Legend just had to be kept up to his work to ensure that the edge was maintained. One of the possible dangers, Tommy Thunder, fell at the fourth, and after he hampered another possible threat, Young Emma, she was never really travelling with any degree of conviction and eventually pulled up. This left some of the lesser lights to battle out the minor honours, and Mr Moneymatters, who has just begun completing races after a run of pulled ups, lasted better than Just Jane, whose form is moving in the opposite direction. That is the trouble with the south-east - the pool of horses is quite small and some do the exact opposite of those they perceive to be their enemies just to be bloody-minded.

Race 3: Highfield Farm Ladies Open
1: Carryonharry 2: Leatherback
Winner owned: Mrs H Silk & RK Purkis, trained: Emma Leppard, ridden: Cynthia Haydon
Only two turned out, and Carryonharry, about whom all compliments that can be given ran out a couple of years ago, gained win number twenty. Just. The pair mostly travelled around head to to head, but having kicked on approaching three out, Carryonharry had that couple of lengths or so edge that is normally enough of a lead, but Leatherback rallied really well, and only went down by neck in the end. Whilst Godstone regulars will not have had a sense that the run-in would be long enough for Leatherback, there was a definite sense of apprehension amongst the crowd that the great grey show-off might be on the verge of a very rare second loss in a row.

Race 4: Tony Fountain & Nick Boyle Men's Open
1: Bee An Bee 2: Master T 3: Reflex Blue
Winner owned: David Robinson, trained & ridden: Stuart Robinson
You never know when a surprise is going to thrown at you, but this was the one for the day. Not the result, but that the money came for the unreliable Master T, whose biggest negative was that he won last time, and has some sort of allergy to being consistent. When Bee An Bee was beaten at this track last season, he was cleverly stalked and beaten for late pace. Master T usually sneaks his wins that way, but was so keen that he ended up leading at the fourth, and was reeled in and cast aside by Bee An Bee at the thirteenth, with the stinger gaining his eleventh pointing win. Master T, winner of this last year, maintained his supremacy over Reflex Blue, but he is a law unto himself, and those that sneaked in and took the evens on the winner will have a deserved sense of smugness about them.

Race 5: Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members, Novice Riders
1: Victree 2: Theatre Knight 3: Basic Fact
Winner owned & trained: Linda Cannon, ridden: Tom Cannon
Having won an open and then only been narrowly pipped in a hunter chase at Towcester, Victree was a warm favourite for this, and duly delivered the expected victory. Over the years he has not been a hugely prolific winner and there were spells in this race where he was not travelling as sweetly as might have been hoped for by those who were on at a short price, but the final margin was twelve lengths, and he will be hard to beat at this level. Basic Fact was the only one to make a race of it with Victree, but it found him out turning for home, and he was pipped for second on the line thanks to Tom Garner showing plenty of persistence on Theatre Knight when the horse did not seem as totally convinced as his youthful rider of the wisdom of what they were doing. Having run well when finally completing at Penshurst last time, Latalanta found this better opposition harder to keep tabs on.

Race 6: Robert Wilkins CA Club Members
1: Brigadier Du Bois 2: High Toby 3: Lillie Lou
Winner owned & trained: John M Bentley, ridden: Ben Bentley
Here we enjoyed the complete reversal of the Master T theory, as the equally reluctant hero Brigadier Du Bois did manage to win his second race in a row, but the betting had been more dismissive of him. He hit the front four from home, overtaking High Toby as that horse came under pressure. For many other horses, this would have been the cue for cruise home enjoying the accolades, but The Brigadier does not work that way, and he did not really extend his lead until High Toby made an error at the second last. Lillie Lou has not yet sparkled this year, having missed 2009, but ran a bit better today, and could be building up to going out on a high note. The progressive and suddenly handy looking Little Legend was still leading when pulled up and dismounted going up the hill to the thirteenth.

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