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Grove & Rufford at NOTTINGHAM
Sunday 11th February 2001
by Dom Bradshaw

The Midlands Area belatedly got underway on Sunday with the Grove and Rufford meeting, staged for the first time at Nottingham racecourse.

The Mens Open saw the reappearance of the high class Lord Harry, who was unbeaten in 2000, but on this occasion he had to give second best to Minella Silver, a winner at Mollington the weekend before. Richard Burton took the steel grey son of Roselier to the front early and was never headed, staying on gamely from the fast finishing Lord Harry (Alistair Crow) with Maitre De Musique (Michael Tate) a distant third. The winner is now qualified for the Cheltenham Foxhunters and connections must surely be thinking of having a crack. The runner up, who looked slightly burly in the paddock, was given a lot to do by Crow but made up significant ground in the latter stages. However, lack of fitness took its toll and he had to give second best on this occasion. Whether the result will be the same if the pair meet again (at Cheltenham?) is a different matter altogether.

Lord Harry’s owner, Mike Parr, made amends in the next race with his Vain Minstrel (Sue Sharratt) taking the Ladies Open in good style. The winner who like Lord Harry, looked big in the paddock, led the field a merry dance and the result was never in any danger. He should have little trouble scoring again.
Shallow River (Sarah Phizacklea), having his first run since 1999, was fifteen lengths back in second and may be capable of taking a small race. Misti Hunter (Carrie Ford) was a further fifteen lengths behind in third.

Banteer Bet (W. Hill), who showed useful form in her only run last season, outstayed her rivals to take the Restricted with Mollington maiden winner Banny Hill Lad (Adrian Wintle) a fast finishing second. Third place went to Square One (Joe Docker) who was the only other finisher.
The winner appears to be at her best when stamina is at a premium and should be capable of a bold show in better class when conditions are in her favour. The same could be said of the runner up, who led for a long way before dropping out and running on again at the death. Whilst in this form, he could take a Restricted of this standard. Square One also ran a game race in conditions that were apparently against her. She should be good enough to score to take a Restricted.
Orient Bay (Richard Tate) was well supported, but was never in it. He requires better ground.

The unraced Dalus Park, a 6yo by Mandalus, ran away with Division One of the Maiden under a fine ride by Joe Docker with The Nobel Rebel (Clive Mulhall) and Primitive Satin (Fiona Needham) second and third respectively. Although the form of the race looks slightly suspect, the winner did all he could and could be half-decent. This was the first real sign of form by the placed horses, but Primitive Satin should be noted as he’s from a good yard (Robin Tate) who rarely entertain bad horses.
Patrick Millington’s Jambo Bwana looked as though he might be in the shake up until weakening into fourth. This was his first completion in points and he could surprise in testing conditions with an established rider on board. The same comments echo for Kings Choir (Mrs C Boyes), who came from the clouds to finish fifth. This is not the first time the horse has done this and he is crying out for stronger handling.
The favourite, Fresh Brew (Richard Burton) was still in with a squeak when exiting on the second circuit. He should be noted when the money is down.
The 5yo debutante Tall Trees was given a very gentle introduction (some might even say a schooling session!) by James Tate. The horse was anchored in last place throughout and was pulled up when tailing off. Admittedly, the horse did run as green as grass and he’s one to note.

The Second Division went to the suspect stayer Redmire (A Pennock), who surprisingly outstayed the rest of his rivals! However, the one for the notebook is Go To War. Richard Burton dropped the unraced 5yo son of Karinga Bay out at the back and he jumped the first three fences slowly and novicey.
By the second circuit, he’d warmed to the task and was hacking with Burton. Coming to two out, Pennock had opened up a good looking advantage on Redmire, but Burton still appeared to have a good handful on Go To War and was closing all the time. With the lead diminishing, Redmire pulled out a bit more, going on to score by 1 lengths. This was an excellent introduction by Go To War, who wasn’t knocked about at any stage by Burton, who I think was a little surprised to see the horse as close to winning as he was! He will have no trouble taking a maiden and could be far better in time.
The winner has been knocking around in Maidens for a while and will have her work cut out to take a Restricted. Dozmary Pool (Adrian Wintle) was fifteen lengths back in third and if remaining problem free, has the potential to score in this grade.

Richard Burton went one better in the final division of the Maiden on the favourite Hot Toddy, collaring the long time leader The Other Man (R. Douro) on the run in. The winner, an expensive purchase, is only a 6yo and can go on to better things. The runner up, an 11yo jumped soundly throughout and looked as though he might have the legs of the rest jumping two out, only for the favourite to deny him. He appreciated the going and trip and is capable of another bold show if encountering these conditions again.
Strewth (Richard Armson) ran well for a long way but stopped quickly. He may have trouble staying three miles.

Earlier, Bucket Of Gold (Tim Denniff) took the Members race for the third year running, comprehensively outstaying the opposition. The only other finisher, Reel Handsome (Josh Apiafi) went out quickly at the 2m4f mark and looks a non-stayer.

The organisers of the meeting should be congratulated in getting the meeting on, as the weather has been atrocious. However, it seems counter productive to have a meeting on a "rules course" and not to use the facilities on offer. A number of people I spoke to were bitterly disappointed with the viewing, as the marquees and tents obscured most of the fences. The only decent viewing point was at the far side of the course, next to the open ditch. Unfortunately, from there, you couldn’t hear a word of the commentary, as there was no loudspeaker and the finishing line was also somewhat distant. Hopefully, the organisers will take heed and rectify the situation in time for the Blankney fixture in March.

Results

Members
1. Bucket Of Gold (Tim Denniff)
2. Reel Handsome
Only two finished 8 Ran
Dist: Dist

Restricted
1. Banteer Bet  (W. Hill)
2. Banny Hill Lad
3. Square One
16 Ran
Dist: 1/2l, 1l

Mens Open
1. Minella Silver (Richard Burton)
2. Lord Harry
3. Maitre De Musique
14 Ran
Dist: 4l, dist

Ladies Open
1. Vain Minstrel (Sue Sharratt)
2. Shallow River
3. Misti Hunter
9 Ran
Dist: 15l, 15l

Maiden (Div 1)
1. Dalus Park (Joe Docker)
2. The Nobel Rebel
3. Primitive Satin
11 Ran
Dist: 20l, hd

Maiden (Div 2)
1. Redmire (A. Pennock)
2. Go To War
3. Dozmary Pool
11 Ran
Dist: 1 1/2l, 15l

Maiden (Div 3)
1. Hot Toddy (Richard Burton)
2. The Other Man
3. Whatasucker
13 Ran
Dist: 1 1/2l, 2l

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