APRIL 2004
by Geoff Handley

What a difference a week makes, from the cold, windy and monsoon conditions at Mollington last Sunday to the dry, bright, warm weather at Kingston Blount for the Thames Valley Combined Hunts Club.

With temperatures over seventy degrees, the going was officially good at this picturesque Oxfordshire venue with the tree lined Chiltern Hills & the ancient Ridgeway footpath providing a perfect backdrop for this delightful course. The Red Kite’s were soaring over the course in the clear blue sky. The course is undulating with a steep rise up the knoll and then a rapid descent. The opening race was slightly delayed as the ambulances had to be swapped.

1. Club Members
Four were declared in the opening members race, the odds on favourite Charlie’s Angel ridden by Philip York was a length down on the eventual winner Mr Splodge when taking a crashing fall two out, both horse and jockey were fine. The winner trained locally by Lawney Hill and ridden by James Tudor were always up with the pace despite making a mistake at the cross fence on the second circuit. The only other runner to finish was Scallybuck, a distance behind.

2. The Club Members For Novice Riders
They went a good pace in this novice riders event and it saw the first victory for Laura Ellis for brother Tim, on the second favourite Wibbley Wobbley. The winner took it up on the final circuit& sealed issues with a good jump at the last to be merely pushed out and to win by two lengths from La Colina who was trying to give trainer Lawney Hill a quick fire double. The favourite and bidding for a hat-trick was Lottie The Lotus ridden by Rosie Goodwin, however the mare was most disappointing always in the rear.

3. The Mens Open
Six went to post and Philip York wasted no time in gaining revenge for his first race fall with victory number 22 for the season on the unreliable Esprit De Cotte. A beaten favourite in his members last time at Penshurst, he is a course winner in 2002. He raced in the Grand National in 2000,falling at Bechers and unseating his rider in the 2001 event. The runner up and favourite was Mr Snowman for the Lawney/Tudor combination

4. The Ladies Open
A disappointing turnout of just two runners and even the bookies couldn’t split the pair in this match going 10/11 Killerine & Linlathen. Victory went to the Heather Irving trained & ridden Killerine winning his fourth Ladies race of the season following victories over course & distance, Brafield & Mollington. Killerine set a steady pace and although Linlathen & Gemma Hutchinson took up the running three out, Heather Irving got a good jump out of Killerine to win by a neck.

5. Restricted
Victory went to Miss Zarnni, well ridden by Sue Sharratt & trained by Roger Harvey. Riding a patient ride at the rear on the first circuit, she moved through the field running on strongly and beating Bell Rock by over two lengths for the Hill/Tudor combination again. Shortcut Shorty mentioned on the discussion forum this week was unplaced. The well backed favourite Rommel (flip flopping with the winner) was back in third.

6. The Maiden
The most runners of the day with eight going to post and with the closest finish. Caraiyna ridden by Jonathon Jowett just getting the verdict over Dreamie Battle by a fast diminishing head. The winner was only a moderate third last time at Lockinge. The one to take out of this race was the runner up who was having his first race for over three months when second at the Market Rasen PTP Course and trying to give Sue Sharratt a quick double. This six year old looks a surefire winner of her maiden. The favourite To The Top made many mistakes and was unplaced.

Overall it was a disappointing turnout of just 34 runners on perfect going, the admission charges were also expensive with an admission fee of £20 or £25, there was a cheaper entrance fee of £12 in the adjacent field alongside the horse boxes. The eyecatcher of the day was Dreamie Battle.