Braes of Derwent at CORBRIDGE
Monday 24th April 2000
by John Bulman

A 9 race card was on offer at Corbridge on Easter Monday, with 4 divisions of the maiden.

On our arrival at the course we were treated to some of the heaviest rain I can remember in a long time. It stopped just in time for the members race where Little Brockwell cantered round under Pauline Robson to account for Sinch and John Stonehouse (unseated at the last but remounted). Only 2 runners was disappointing but Pauline Robson won’t mind as she chases the National Championship.

The second race was the Intermediate and provided the ride of the day in my opinion. Turning for home P. Atkinson on Keep a Secret was nearer last than first but knew what he had left as he cruised through to take it up approaching the last. Once asked to go about his business, Keep a Secret quickly put the result beyond doubt, easily defeating Minella Gold (Maxine Bremner) and Highland Monarch. (Clive Storey).

The Mens open only had 6 runners but provided an exciting finish. Clive Storey and Rainbow Times comfortably reversing earlier Kelso form with Jimmy Walton and Excise Man. Cool Yule was a disappointing favourite, never really travelling for Tom Oates.

The Ladies race saw Balisteros a 1/5 shot to record his 10th win of the season and his 4th in 9 days. He duly obliged but had to be driven out to beat Miss Portcello. That’s 8 Point to Points and 2 hunter chases this season, equalling the Northern area record of the legendary Flying Ace for the most wins in a season. Can Balisteros keep winning or will the tank run empty? Certainly he wasn’t particularly impressive here, but he never really is.

The restricted race gave us the biggest field of the day and Senso gained a deserved success for Caroline Cox and the Shirley-Bevan team. Senso has had some dreadful luck this season and has been the most consistent of the Shirley-Bevan horses this season. Well ridden by Caroline Cox, Senso held the late run of Go Nomadic who came from the back under P. Atkinson but looked to run out of petrol between the last 2 fences.

The Maiden races were divided into 4 divisions of 15 entries. As it turned out only 26 horses competed in the 4 divisions. Surely it would have made more sense to have 2 divisions of 30. This gives the option of splitting on the day in necessary and avoids 4 mediocre races at the end of the day.

As it turned out Benefit in Kind won the strongest division (1) under Tom Oates, seeing out the trip much better than The Dyke Louper (Barry Lusted). These 2 were a long way clear of Baltic Lake and Rye Rum who were the only 4 (of 10 starters) to finish. Indeed the rest barely made it past way in what had become very testing, holding ground.

Division 2 went to Harry Laws (Tom Scott) who had looked well beaten by Sharpaman (Pauline Robson) until that one went out like a light after the last allowing Thomas to rally Harry Laws to lead on the line. Sharpaman is only 5 and was making his debut for the Shirley-Bevan yard. He should easily be good enough to collect a maiden at least on better ground. Only 2 finished.

Tom Scott quickly made it a double on The Parlour Maid in the 5,6 + 7 year old maiden (div 1). Sitting at the rear as I say Dancer and Ballylesson made the pace, The Parlour Maid made up ground down the back straight and as Ballylesson tired up the straight, was pushed out to win comfortably. Ballylesson is a fine looking animal and jumped better as the race went on (having fallen on his 2 previous appearances), he ran too freely however and should win if settling on better ground.

The final race saw some nice types come up against each other. On Merit was in the lead when unseating Tom Oates at the fence in front of the crowd. Most of the rest were struggling in the ground however and in the end only Diane Waltons Just A Diamond finished. The winner got home quite well however so it may be foolish to dismiss the form of the race lightly. On Merit, Homo Dorney and Inglebrig Lad are all nice horses who should fare better on faster ground.