For the first time this season, the sun was shining brightly
and short sleeves and ice cream were the order of the day for many of the
bumper crowd at the today’s Vale Of Lune meeting at Whittington.
The whole complexion of the members’ race changed at
the final fence where Strong King (Kevin Pearson) took a crashing fall
when looking dangerous, leaving the race at the mercy of Fenloe Rambler
(Karen Cookson) who came home a distance clear of Tidaro Fairy, with
Strong King remounting for third place.
The winner is a shade one paced these days, but does stay extra well.
Strong King is still a maiden but does most of his work at the end of his
races and should be capable of scoring on a testing track.
There was a shock in the Confined with Icelandic
Spring (Luke Morgan) denying fellow outsider Orton House (Stephen Kelly)
by a length, with Vicosa (David Sherlock) and JR-Kay (David Thomas) in
third and fourth.
This was the first sign of form that the winner has shown in a long time
and if connections are able to keep him straight then he may have a chance
under similar circumstances.
The runner up, a 15-year-old, obviously maintains some ability but has
never been the trustworthiest sort and this run shouldn’t be taken too
Vicosa ran as well as could be expected and JR-Kay, who looked big in the
paddock, appeared to blow up. Both will come on for the race.
The favourite, Merry Christmas, a winner of two weak races at Eaton Hall
this season, was disappointing, dropping quickly out of contention.
Lord Dorcet, a high quality two-mile chaser under rules a few
seasons ago, readily took the Ladies Open under a well-judged ride
from Pauline Robson. He looks a good ladies horse and it will be
interesting to see if Pauline will take on Balisteros before long.
Running Mute (Val Jackson) never looked like getting to the winner, but
stayed on nicely enough to suggest that this type of race isn’t beyond
Allow (Michelle Hugo), a good winner at Weston Park earlier in the season,
was never in contention, finishing a disappointing third. I was surprised
that his rider didn’t make more of him and he’ll do better under a
more enterprising ride.
The odds-on favourite, Blank Cheque (David Coates), took the Mens
Open, but didn’t have it all his own way, having to repel the aptly
named Cumbrian Challenge (Dale Jewett) who chased him all the way to the
line. The winner seems better when ridden handily, as he’s been on his
last two runs and should continue to prove hard to beat in points.
The second, like Lord Dorcet, was a formerly a useful two-miler under
rules and was given a terrific ride here by Dale Jewett, who gave the
horse every chance to get the trip. On this run, he should have little
problem getting the standard three miles trip in points and may be able to
add to his staggering twenty-two wins under rules.
Concerto Collonges (Robert Hartley) was unable to live with the injection
of pace by the first two on the final circuit and came home a long way
back in third.
The Intermediate saw Silver Sirocco (Stephen Kelly)
and Seven Four Seven (Keith Rosier) fighting out the finish, with the
latter just getting the upper hand.
The winner, an 11-year-old, doesn’t have too many miles on the clock and
if she can stay healthy, will continue to run well for her owner\rider.
The maiden Silver Sirocco was completing for the first time after pulling
up on his five previous attempts. If he’s able to replicate this run, he
should be more than capable of taking a maiden.
The one that caught the eye, but for all the wrong reasons was Scruton,
who was given a rather uninspiring ride from a gentleman named Walter
Puddifer. Looking unstable on more than one occasion (was up the horse’s
neck at the second fence and actually did quite well to get back in the
plate), Mr Puddifer never had the horse going or jumping well and it was
more than interesting to see the horse come home full of running, albeit
well after the main contenders. The horse has decent form prior to this
race and is worth noting with an established rider aboard.
Brush And Go (Luke Morgan) was made favourite for the maiden,
but weakened after the last, leaving the race at the mercy of the
11-year-old Greenfinch (Dale Jewett), who got the better of West Country
raider Nick’s Way (Charlie White). The winner did well to score here
(was given the dreaded MacKenzie & Selby “squiggle” a couple of
season’s ago) and he’ll have to improve if he’s going to step up in
The runner up made up for the disappointment of the stable’s earlier
runner, Bells Wood in the Mens Open, who lost Mr White at the second! He
has more than a modicum of ability and may be able to score in this grade.
Brush And Go weakened tamely for the second successive race and appears to
be crying out for a shorter track.
Active Venture (Pauline Robson) jumped sketchily and was beaten a long way
from home. He shouldn’t be written off on what is only his second
appearance on the track and should take a maiden.
This was my second visit to Whittington and I was impressed
not only by the viewing and standard of racing, but also by the effort
made by the hunt to lay on a number of trade stands, food stalls and
entertainment for the kids (bouncy slide, etc). Well done to the Vale Of