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Old Surrey, Burstow & West Kent
Sunday 28th March 2010
by Simon McInnes

Presumably due to Easter, Penshurst opened it's season a little earlier than usual. That allowed for better racing ground than is often the case here, but the effect probably amounted to an average of one extra horse per race. And despite the changing of the clocks, the crowd was not bad, but much smaller the the occasional massive ones the course enjoys in late April. It looks as if the majority of south-east attendees would prefer the sun to be out and never mind the quality of racing.

Going: Soft officially, although they were not leaving a deep print, not going in particularly deep on the racing line, nor were fast ground horses apparently inconvenienced, so...

Race 1: Mr & Mrs Gervaise Burbidge - Villagate Properties Ltd & Mrs & Mrs Graham Addiscott Members
1: Spartan Place 2: Durante 3: George Stephenson
Winner owned & trained: Mr R Gurney, ridden: Philip York
Sponsors outnumbered runners for this race, but they were all outdone by a vast array of silverware that was on offer. At some point the presentation petered out because the recipients had run out of hands. Whilst appearing to be a good pointing candidate based on his best form under Rules, Spartan Place has been excellently, erm, placed to bring his tally to three out of three for the season. He did not have too hard a time to achieve it as Durante, himself unbeaten in two starts before today, did not jump with the fluency he has been demonstrating. By contrast, George Stephenson had one run, ending in a fall, to his name, so the completion will have done him some measure of good. Young Emma, who looked to be on the up in a modest way at the end of last season, was reluctant to be mounted, to go to post, to use the services of a jockey, to be involved in any real way. When she jumped off on terms, which was not looking to be a given, her fencing let her down.

Race 2: Warners Solicitors PPORA Club Members, Novice Riders
1: Lord Snow 2: Latalanta 3: Super Sensation
Winner owned: Simon Tindall, trained: Nick Pearce, ridden: Tom Garner
A race designed to confound, with the only rider to have a proliferation of wins picking up the duties on arguably the least reliable horse in the field. Super Sensation was the market jolly, based on being third in a similar race on his pointing debut. Sloppy jumping got him behind early, and the gap between him and the pack just got wider. Meanwhile, Lord Snow (one run in 2008, nothing since) was having quite a butting of heads with Latalanta at the front, with the initiative changing hands a few times. Eventually Lord Snow (the paddock pick, which is par for the course for his yard) just got the upper hand, showing he retains his ability and is well on course for his next appearance just before the Olympics. After going UPF so far this season, Latalanta showed that he can do something when he manages to untangle his feet. Veteran nutter Reflex Blue had going spells in this and some stopping ones, with the latter eventually getting the nod.

Race 3: Court Group of Cmpanies SEHC Members
1: Ambrosinni 2: Gold Heart 3: Cumbo Kid
Winner owned: Mrs KH York & JA Gillett, trained & ridden: Phil York
Only six runners, but like the previous race, it was exciting all the way to the end, and there was a hint of controversy. Having ridden especially patiently, some felt that Nick Pearce had left it too late on Gold Heart, who went off long odds-on. However, he did nose ahead approaching the last, only for Ambrosinni to jump better and stay better. So the horse was close enough if good enough, and the argument might be that he needed to have kicked a few lengths clear at that stage - but what is to say that Gold Heart would not then have idled in front? Having won bumpers and a hurdle for David Pipe, Ambrosinni is still a relative youngster to have switched to pointing, and he could well turn out to be at least as prolific winner as his victim already has been. Cumbo Kid, who got a bit sweaty beforehand - but not on the elite Spartan Place scale - was with the first two until the third from the finish, and after two pulled ups in 2010, showed signs of getting back near his best, which was only a restricted win anyway.

Race 4: John Coldman Men's Open
1: Master T 2: Theatre Knight 3: King Coal
Winner owned & ridden: Peter Bull, trained: Suzy Bull
Open race purists will throw up their hands in despair to find out that Master T, traditionally an economic disaster waiting to happen, is odds-on for an open, but that summed up the standard of opposition. For instance, King Coal's jockey was returning after a ten year riding sabbatical and Ressource, who only won one of forty races previously, was last seen attempting to correct that in June 2006. Two of the more likely non-declarers to have taken advantage of such a modest field are stable mates of Master T, so few tears will have been shed in that direction. And lo, Master T did manage to prevail, despite his best efforts to get rid of Peter Bull at the first, tenth and second last, by which stage he was in total control anyway. Despite being ideal for the cliché of being "a big stuffy old horse," the huge King Coal tended to go well fresh for Richard Rowe, so whilst his new connections may have left him deliberately a touch undercooked, there is reason to be wary of assuming he will come on for this.

Race 5: Savills Estate Agents Ladies Open
1: A Few Bob Back 2: Carryonharry 3: King Du Berlais
Winner owned & ridden: Camilla Ewart, trained: Alan Hill
In the last couple of years there was the suspicion that age might be catching up with Carryonharry, such as in his defeat in 2009, but countered by his ability to come out and win on debut this year. Obviously a rising youngster was the prime suspect to turn him over, but the 14 year old A Few Bob Back would not have made many peoples shortlist of possibles. There was no fluke about it, with the grey legend clearly struggling five out, but at least proving that his heart for a scrap is still intact, even in vain. After many efforts in the frame in open company, it was hardly undeserved for A Few Bob Back to finally win one again - it was just the choice of today that was a surprise.

Race 6: Nick Finegold Execution Ltd Open Maiden
1: Fealeside Lord 2: Search Me
Winner owned: HJ Hawksfield, C Latilla Campbell & A Knight, trained: Ian Cobb, ridden: Tom Cannon
I had a word with the sponsor, offering a list of people that he could deal with, such as Jamie Oliver, Harriet Harman, Rupert Murdoch, Silvio Berlusconi etc etc. Turns out it was not that type of execution. Shame. The race itself was eight strong, in the loosest sense of the word. Fealeside Lord, all over the winner when falling last time, was the favourite and delivered. He has one proper blemish on his record this season, a poor run at Godstone. Is that a right handed allergy or is Godstone simply not his track? Parisien made a race of it with him until three out, then was dropping away when knocking an almighty hole in the second last. Fortunately horse and rider emerged without major scathing, but the obstacle will be needing some drastic attention. That left Search Me to be a distant, tired second. Two of the pulled ups caught the eye, both seeming to be not over hassled before calling it a day. Hitsfromtheblitz went P2 in 2009, the second being in a weak race but at least a tight finish. Either he has regressed or is getting warmed up for faster ground. Newcomer Hiya Butt was not listed as such in the racecard, but ran in the Kevin Tork colours and unusually for the yard did not charge off in front. After tracking the leaders, we called time approaching fence twelve, i.e. by the unsaddling area (Hitsfromtheblitz did one more fence, for show). There seems a good chance of improvement on this start.

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