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REVIEW
VALE OF CLETTWR
ERW LON

SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2002
by Alison Morris

A bit of a vague one this, for which I apologise, but you can't be everywhere at once! The lack of accurate results can be blamed on one John Jeffries, who despite being parked at the finish line (broken leg and all) in a Discovery with race card and TWO pens gave up after the second race and dipped into his wife's picnic instead. 

It all began at five o'clock for me, when I had to get a very disgruntled mare (come on, don't you know it's Saturday?) to her feet for her pre-race exercise.  It's a two-hour slog in the lorry to Erw Lon, but at least we had beautiful sunshine not the rain and wind that usually accompanies this first Welsh meeting. Last year we had arrived in a pea souper fog and torrential rain but this year we arrived to clear blue skies and horses being paraded without rugs due to the blazing sunshine. The ground was still a bit sticky but considering the rain that the area has had it was holding up very well.

Two "old timers" made a come back at Erw Lon, a human one in Steve "Knockout" Blackwell, returning to the saddle after prematurely retiring and an equine one in Touch and Pass, who at fourteen years old was making a comeback after a two-year absence with leg trouble. Steve managed to make the paddock on two occasions although not in the winnerís enclosure, and prompted the remark from Wales's brilliant commentator, affectionately known as Eddie Llancaiach, that Steve's main reason for returning was because he couldn't "make any money selling the Big Issue in Cardiff"!

The other veteran earned the title of a "grand old warrior" as he gave his owner's sixteen-year-old son Nicky Williams his second winner in the eventful mens open which saw one runner going the wrong way, and the leader losing a saddle on the final bend.  Nicky, who is with the Barber stable in Dorset sadly broke his jaw the following day but if he is anything like his older brother Christian, he will soon be back in the number one spot. Not to be outdone, Christian rode the winner of the final race the confined and made it a family double.  Evan Williams rode a double in his won right in a division of the maiden and one of the two restricteds with the front running Cherry Gold. Paul Sheldrake was also in double form and his well fancied maiden winner Sable View beat the now awake mare of yours truly by what Eddie kindly pronounced as three and a half distances!

Beth Williams took the Ladies on her motherís Market Springer; the beautiful if temperamental son of Roselier had not won since Brecon in 1999 but put up an enthusiastic performance to win the race; an achievement marred somewhat by the silly hat his young jockey insisted on wearing to the bar afterwards!

Tim Vaughan, a notable gymkhana rider in his day, showed off his Pony Club skills again by winning Div 2 of the restricted without stirrups; his mount was the John Moore trained Power and Glory, and Tim had done exactly the same thing on the same horse, at the same course last year. Perhaps history does repeat itself!

It was wonderful to be back amongst the familiar faces, and rubbed in just how much everyone had missed the sport last year.  One down, many more to go, and maybe next time J. Jeffries will do his job properly!

 

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