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STAFF COLLEGE & RMA SANDHURST DRAG
SUNDAY 3 MARCH 2002
by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall - http://www.equestriancornwall.co.uk)
The journey from Ottery was uneventful really, only a little
Fred: Can I borrow a few quid for tomorrow?
Life is just one big bowl of cherries!
Later that evening as we dined, me on mackerel patė with red
onion marmalade followed by stilton stuffed mushroom in filo pastry and
Ruth had her normal amount of Australian Shiraz (large glass) with smoked
duck followed by wild boar sausages followed up by delicious sweets,
wonderful coffee and then to find the two ladies on our table were also P
2 P/Horse enthusiast – well what more could one ask for! A truly lovely
evening and off to our Bed and Breakfast to an address we found in our
copy of Stay on a Farm.
This was also a big hit with us. Church Farm at Steeple Ashton is the home of the Cottle’s
and they provided us with excellent accommodation, lovely food for our
breakfast, friendly people and we will definitely go back when we need to
stay in that area. Mrs Cottle
had put an extra log on the lounge fire so that we could come back from
our evening meal and relax but unfortunately after such good food at The
Lamb on The Strand Inn we were ready for bed.
This was our first visit to Larkhill so the ‘walk the
course’ took a little longer than usual as after all, we have it on good
authority, that it is the biggest and widest course in the British Isles
– yes Exeter is quite a walk round but this is bigger. Lovely weather and the sound of the larks made the distance
I was on the lookout here, it being a military meeting, for
the owner of BARRYSCOURT LAD who ran at Wadebridge and has been knocking
at the post at this course and Sandown and who will be running in the
Military Gold Cup this Friday. We
have exchanged emails, the details of which you no doubt have read on my
pages, but never met. Imagine
my surprise when I found her – this charming young lady, whose title is
Major J F Holmes RAVC MRCVS, was one of the duty vets for this day.
Lovely smile and full of enthusiasm about winning on Friday.
Good luck Jo!
The going was ‘Good’ – ‘Good to Soft in Places’
when four went to post for the Hunt Members race.
With my borrowed money I was keen to invest but the price of the
favourite, P York’s AMBER LIFE, dampened my spirits. Not to worry, he unseated his rider last time so I will rely
on the family horse-CHASING DAISY to recoup some of yesterday’s
mistakes. For the first
circuit the lead changed between AMBER LIFE and CHASING DAISY with the
other two runners, Dr G Kerr’s LIVE WIRE and Claire Llewellin on her
TOUCHING DOWN. With four fences remaining the field was beginning to string
out with AMBER LIGHT leading CHASING DAISY being several lengths clear of
the other two. Rounding the
turn and running for home CHAISING DAISY was not giving up but barring
mishaps, AMBER LIFE had it sewn up – now the last –Whoooppsee!!- Out
of the saddle goes Mr P York and yes- CHASING DAISY goes on to win by some
30 lengths from LIVE WIRE and the lovely and excited Miss Claire Llewellin
bringing in TOUCHING DOWN into third place.
I immediately paid Ruth back what I had borrowed and put the kettle
The Confined Hunt Race was to be contested by seven runners
and I see the jockey change for horse number 6, Mr and Mrs P Morgan’s
ICKFORD OKEY is to be in favour of Ben King who replaces Emily Jones.
Now I know Emily was disappointed not to win on this horse when it
last ran as things happened when she looked in a very favourable position
but she is off ‘poorly’
at the moment with a collar bone not quite in the right place, so get well
soon Emily and see if Ben will give the ride up easily.
Young Mr King is just 18 years old and including this ride his
stats are 6 wins from 25 rides. A
young man to watch! ICKFORD
OKEY was an early leader but with 18 fences to jump, anything could
happen. As the field came
into view at the far end of the course on the last circuit, it was Mr
Underwood’s LEGAL STORM who had gone up to join ICKFORD OKEY, these two
being five or six lengths to the good of H Manners’s PONTABULA (A
Charles-Jones), Ruth’s choice. PREMIER
BAY (C Williams) continued to make ground from being held up back in the
field. Five from home ICKFORD
OKEY made a bad mistake and the commentator announced that it had probably
knocked the stuffing out of him and it was remarkable how Ben King
remained intact. No one told this horse about ‘stuffing’.
From flag fall to finish, Ben King had kept ICKFORD OKEY up to his
work and made every bit of the running and he crossed the line a well
deserved five lengths winner over PONTABULA in a time of 6m 23 secs, with
a fast finishing STRONG TEA (J Maxse) in third place.
The Larkhill National Mixed Open Race over 4 miles followed
and now I am sure I have the winner all picked out. I wander around the paddock with the look of knowledge that
those who ‘know a thing or two’ wear and wait for the clever bookies
to try and beat me this time. Dig
out the wallet, watch the prices closely, prepare to rush for the best
price – this is the strongest link!
As soon as the prices went up so did I and placed my total
investment on a sure winner! Have
you heard it all before but to my surprise my charge went around this
course like a true professional, four miles and twenty two fences and not
one mistake until the last fence and then……… but early on J
Studd’s MINERS DANCE (C Studd) led the way going twenty lengths in front
and possibly more at some stage. This
is a little frightening as my investment is ‘being held up at the
rear’ – whew! Am I glad its four miles! The favourite, J Boulter & Miss F Wilkins’s STARPATH (M
Miller) was in midfield and going well and so were quite a few others with
a circuit to go. MINERS DANCE
still leading by a clear advantage – 12 lengths.
Going down the hill for the final time I heard that my charge had
gone up to dispute third and to be truthful, it looked like second in my
shaking binoculars, now this is good news.
J & E Hannum’s COOLREE LORD (J Hannum) was third at the next
fence but MINERS DANCE is now showing signs of slowing, maybe a breather
is in order. At the first of
the remaining five fences to be jumped on the way home, it was MINERS
DANCE by about 3 lengths followed by my choice followed by the favourite,
STARPATH, who was going well. COOLREE LORD was slipping back through the
field now. Three fences from
home I was beginning to scream, my choice Mr D Pipe’s DARAYDAN ridden by
A Farrant was on his way and pulling away from the favourite STARPATH.
MINERS DANCE was overtaken by Mrs F Bishop’s LEON GARCIA (T
Bishop) for a while but my DARAYDAN was not going to be beaten and with
only one fence to jump I was confident the money was mine.
At the last – whooooppssee! whew! Any less jockey than Mr Farrant
would have been on the floor but this man made a remarkable recovery and
went on to win the National by 25 lengths with the extremely tough MINERS
DANCE in second place, LEON GARCIA, third and STARPATH, back in fourth.
It was lovely feeling as I made my way to the bookies but not
before ensuring that a certain Mr Farrant – WEIGHED-IN!
Celebrations in the paddock when K Roger’s RAIN DELAY (R
Rogers) won The Confined Maiden Race were a joy to behold.
It is lovely when the horse and jockey obtain their first win.
This one did it by a distance from P Maggs ROCKHOLM LAD (A
Charles-Jones) ahead of the third horse R Cook’s BAVARD PUSH (D
Alers-Hankey) by just a short head.
The Intermediate Race was a non-event.
Only two entrants, J Sheppard, W Rayner & Polly Curling’s
POSH AS YOU LIKE (C Heard) and M Rowe’s TRAVELLING JACK (N Harris).
The start was a complete fumble.
Neither jockey wished to take the lead and it was nothing more than
a hack round for both of them with eventually the two horses racing as in
five-furlong sprints. Not the
business of Pointers and I would expect both horses to be out again soon.
Ten went to post out of 33 entries for The Restricted Race
and I had been assured that this would be a competitive event.
I backed Miss Tabitha Cave to win on T Whitley’s SWINCOMBE
because although his wins have been in Members, the competition in those
Members has been more than a little above normal.
Run 5 won 3, not bad! On
it goes! Two were out of the
race early – one slipped and the other brought down.
The field became strung out with large distances between the leader
who was the favourite at the start, J Frampton and A Coombes’s
WHATASHOCK (E Tory) and SWINCOMBE followed further back by A Mason’s
LOVE AT DAWN (B King) and Mrs Tutte’s JOLIE ROSLIN (Mrs M Roberts).
The field was decimated! On
rounding the turn and lined up to take the last was WHATASHOCK a distance
ahead of SWINCOMBE and JOLIE ROSLIN a further distance back in third.
Well my money is gone again as there is only one obstacle to clear
with no pressure whatsoever and Miss Tory has the race at her mercy and
WHATASHOCK will make this three wins in a row this year – last fence –
whoops! Met it all wrong, hit the top and he’s gone over – look! Guess
what! Here come SWINCOME a distance in front of any challenger and putting
Fred in the money again. Not
yet, wait until Tabitha gets over the last – yep, no problem.
Not a bad day after all. Someone
remarked that SWINCOMBE won by ‘default’, what ever that is.
I disagree! The Restricted Race was over three miles with 18
fences; if you only jump 17 fences then you don’t win!
Hard I know but it is the case.
I was told to shut up which I willingly did and went to pick up my
Next week it’s the turn of the Seavington Hunt at Little
Windsor and Black Forest Lodge for the South Devon Foxhounds P to P – be
there! Oh! Didn’t Fanfaron
do well at Taunton? Fred