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Saturday 29th April 2006

by Simon McInnes

photos by Adam Goodburn

One of the prime characteristics of Parham as a track is as soon as the sun comes out, every last drop of moisture scurries for deep cover faster than a foreign criminal released by the Home Office. This means that a scenic, well laid out and spacious venue ends up with the curse of few runners, and that was again true, with just nineteen on the day. Due to problems finding convenient days to race for the multitude of landowners involved, 2007 seems set to be the last season here, so for those that have not been it is worth a visit - just do not expect too much from the racing if it is not raining.
After my gripes at Easter, the betting market was back to a much more realistic round of pricing, even my arch-nemesis Premier Racing. Examples being the three runner confined, where one book was a punter very friendly 4/11, 6/1, 6/1 and the two horse ladies' open for which 4/7 & 6/4 was typical.

Harwoods Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers
1: Aslapoftheeuro 2: Diamond Road
Winner owned& trained: Mr I Heaney, ridden: Philip York

This race also includes the Kent & Surrey Bloodhounds, none of whose entries took part, presumably exhausted after trekking over vast swathes of the home counties. Four did go to post, and the disappointing Aslapoftheuro was a short priced favourite. A mistake at the second got rid of Bound To Be Light when the saddle ended up under his belly, and the jockey was predictably unable to cling on, and Castle Arrow unseated when struggling a little at the twelfth. This left the favourite to battle Diamond Road, pulled up in all three runs to date. To be fair, Mick Sheridan did his best three out to make his last ride a competitive one, but Aslapoftheeuro responded to the drop in quality of his opponents and won tidily enough in the end.

Instone Air Services Confined
1: Ballystone 2: Chief Chippie 3: Altareek
Winner owned: Hammerstream Farm Partnership, trained & ridden: Sarah Ashby

Altareek was the odds-on shot this time, but he had two regular completers to tackle, plus very different conditions underfoot as well. Also, his front running style means that he usually gives himself a hard race, and it sounded as if a fair number of people were willing to take a small risk on an upset. In fact, Altareek seemed to consider ducking out at the second, allowing Ballystone to lead, and he was eventually tailing off after a couple of miles. Chief Chippie did take it up four from home, but Sarah Ashby had been patient on Ballystone and he recovered between the final pair of fences to put daylight between himself and the runner-up.

Winterfields Farm Restricted
1: Warren Hill 2: Court Award 3: Phar Afield
Winner owned & trained: JH Young, ridden: David Turner

Another odds-on favourite was vanquished in Court Award, but he is clearly a vindictive beast as he won his maiden when Chris Gordon chose to spurn him for another horse in the same race, although Court Award did not dash his rider mercilessly to the ground this time around. In a slowly run race early on, none of them jumped impressively, although the favourite was more fluent when the pace picked up. He appeared to have Warren Hill's measure when going on two out, but like the last winner, well-backed Warren Hill reacted positively once headed and won a touch cosily in the end. David Turner stopped riding a couple of strides short of the line and still held on by a length, officially (in reality the margin was probably narrower). Phar Afield was soon left behind when the race quickened up but at least got round.

Jackson-Stops & Staff Ladies' Open
1: Lord Euro 2: Dick McCarthy
Winner owned: Mrs AWK Merriam, trained: Di Grissell, ridden: Hannah Grissell

With both runners being fairly safe conveyances and the spritely nine-year-old Lord Euro receiving weight from his teenaged rival, who can be inclined to look after himself a bit, the result was not really in much doubt, and those willing to back odds-on were probably happy with the prices available. Obviously several bookies were betting on the distance, and as it was clear a long way out that the race was in the bag and both runners would probably complete, the official distance was very significant. It was given as fifteen lengths, which looked very generous. We timed it at between two and two and a half seconds, and to the naked eye, about 8 lengths seemed fair. Either that or Lord Euro has a very serious turn of foot.

Mark Francis Ltd Men's Open
1: Cape Stormer
Winner owned & ridden: Marcus Gorman, trained: Carolyn Gorman

Sadly a walk-over, and if there were any bizarre incidents, they were not visible from the beer tent. There was an interesting note in the programme, that if a rider was wearing a white sash over their colours, they were eligible for the Naumann Cup. This meant that neither horse nor jockey had even been placed under Rules or in any points. When was the last time the Naumann Cup was won?

Charlton Hunt Club Open Maiden
1: Tates Avenue 2: Lady L'Orelei 3: Beacon White
Winner owned: SP Tindall, trained & ridden: Chris Gordon

Six went to post for this, but from the off they entered into the spirit of the day by splitting into two separate races of three each. The main event saw Tates Avenue clear the first by several metres but gradually warm to the jumping task as time went by. He had suffered a bit of a tantrum leaving the paddock and looks a highly strung sort of individual. Lady L'Orelei had not run since 2003 and she made a decent fist of challenging in the last mile, but Tates Avenue was too quick for her, and she was beaten when going left and stumbling on landing at the last. Beacon White cracked a mile out but did manage to finish. The alternative event at the rear petered out at a similar point several seconds after Beacon White began to fade. Frozen Assets and Bart Butler had seen enough by that stage, and this left Showbiz Floozie to win it, finishing hopelessly tailed off behind the other trio but hardly looking as if she had exerted herself in comparison to the very tired third.


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