by Simon McInnes

My first visit to Tweseldown, inspired by the improved viewing and the fascination of the flooded tunnel. Well the tunnel was only moderately damp and the better site lines were negated by forgetting my binoculars. Although the migration of the masses around the top of the hill does make the racing seem more interactive. Sadly, no notice was taken of this strong indication of what sort of day it was going to be, and a tired refusal at the last in a maiden stopped me backing four runners-up on the day. One reason was the fewer than normal number of conspicuously unfit runners. Mild winters are not a good thing. As for the organisation of the day, only one quibble arose. After the Men’s Open, I  had a quick shufti at the runners for the Ladies race. Once done, I joined the coffee queue. When the Ladies race finished, I was still in the queue. One hot drinks outlet and forcing any thirsty racegoers to have to miss a race to get a coffee is not really good enough. There was a minor problem with missing number cloths for some of the low numbers, and several had to use numbers in the twenties and thirties instead. The passing of the adjustments to the number blackboard operator and those saddling the horses was unfeasibly efficient. 

Astaire & Partners 8 year olds and over Tweseldown Racing Club Members for  Veteran and Novice Riders & the City Of London Club Members Race
A challenge for all! Does any meeting stage a race with a longer name? It produced a cracking race to liven up racegoers, as four horses jumped the last in a group and were still barely two lengths apart at the post. Godfrey Maundrell won the race as a veteran rider on Quickswood, who looked very well in the paddock, but perhaps a smidgeon short of full fitness. The horse had won in Opens last season, but lacked a bit of consistency. In this he made the early the running and battled back into the van late on, not faltering when the trio of challengers were snapping at his heels. Tell The Nipper plodded on for second. This was odd, as the ground seemed not to be soft enough for him, but after being first of the main group off the bridle, he stuck at it readily enough. He does not win often, and suggests that Quickswood did not have to be at his most rapid to prevail. Right on the line Tell The Nipper stuck his nose ahead of Kustom Kit Grizzly (whose third place won him the City of London Members) and Tanager - a reformed miseryguts in the last year or so.

Astaire & Partners Mens Open
The easiest winner of the day, as Titus Bramble, with Julian Pritchard on board, continued his climb up the pointing ladder. He was stepping up in class and coped very well. Under Rules it often seemed as if Titus Bramble was a bit soft and sulky, but Dick Baimbridge has, predictably, found the key to unleashing the ability within. I wonder if Bobby Robson has sought advice from the great man on how to get the best from his namesake clod-hopping centre back? Find Me Another was second, and although he did not run badly, there was not much response when Titus Bramble went by, and when looking for open winners on a card, it will pay to follow the advice of the horse’s name. There was a quite a good tussle for third, a distance and more behind. In the stagger towards the line Travelling Jack just came out ahead of Good Boy and Picket Piece.

Titus Bramble (Julian Pritchard) goes clear of Find Me Another (Rowan Cope) at the last to win the Mens' Open
Photo by Graham Fisher

Friends of Tweseldown Ladies Open
Although long odds-on, Bitofamixup did not appear as fit as he does when at his best, and he does have a history of needing his first run of the season. Based on Robin Gray’s commentary, he set off in front but had nothing left when passed about four out by Tom Cobbler, who was never then headed. He looked very fit beforehand, but history said he won over further against awful opposition. In the last few yards, Bitofamixup lost the runner-up spot to Killerine, who was a fair handicap chaser and looks like he could do a job pointing.

A delighted Pippa Hall returns on Tom Cobbler after winning the Ladies' Open
Photo by Graham Fisher

Friends of Tweseldown, Tweseldown Racing Club Members Moderate
This one went more or less with the form book, as a horse that won twice last season and picked up a couple of modest places in hunter chases showed a better engine, and had the bonus of Evan Williams in the plate. Although it is possible to pick holes in Mensch’s form from 2003, he has only turned eight and could still be on the upgrade. The same could be said of Denvale, except he is barely a six year old. Stamina is not lacking as he closed on the winner all the way down the straight, although never quickly enough, and took second from Buckland Boy when that horse went to his left at the last.  Although she looked fit enough, Sheila Mckenzie weakened quickly from three out. At face value it was a promising run, but she has run out, and may have chosen to drop away rather than have it forced on her. With a lap to go Dragon Lord, who was a serial placer under Rules and has each-way possibilities wherever he goes, was travelling well on the heels of the leaders but disappeared Lucan-like somewhere on the second lap.

Mensch and Evan Wiliams fly the last en route to victory in the Members' Moderate Race
Photo by Graham Fisher

Richard Robinson Horse Transport Open Maiden (Div I)
Only one of the twelve managed to finish, and that confirms the impression that it was the weaker division. The winner was Lambrini Mist, Richard Burton up, who had shown zero as a bumper and hurdle horse. A bit older, and in a totally different discipline, he jumped well and kept up a relentless gallop that killed off any possible challengers. The race was in the bag when an exhausted Silver Baron was unable to jump the last. It will go down as refused, but the horse was too tired to take off even if he wanted to. With Silver Baron standing motionless by the fence, Be Bop Bentley wandered into the wings and then decided that he did not fancy it either, and stopped as well. Had he not blundered badly and unseated two out, Keegan Bearnais would most likely have been second, but the evidence suggested that negotiating the last was no cakewalk. The Caroline Bailey representative, Two Oceans, was in trouble at halfway, and even if green for his debut, has an awful lot of improving to do to match his yard’s usual standard. 

Richard Robinson Horse Transport Open Maiden (Div II)
The only hard luck story of the day came in this one. The super fit Rhythm King was well clear and not stopping when he hit five out and unseated Godfrey Maundrell. It was a long way out, but the way the survivors got home suggested that he would take a lot of beating. His Rules form suggested that the calamity was not unpredictable, but he did not show much of a rhythm in the galloping department there either, so things do not look good for those he had struggling. The race fell into the lap of Sharp Seal, who has had plenty of failures in his career, but shown bits of talent in some defeats. Winning rider F Bucket kept his excitement well contained (urghh) when he had Julian Pritchard breathing down his neck. Returning to a good receptacle from the crowd, I immediately decided not to water down the number of puns in the report. Best wind it up sharpish. Cho Polu was second, having taking a long time to respond to urgings from the saddle. Having fallen on his debut, and not reappeared, Just Jove had the benefit of a completion today,but well behind the first pair.