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REVIEW
PUCKERIDGE
HORSEHEATH
SATURDAY 29 MARCH 2003

by Richard Hall

It is difficult to find much to say. Nobody was at fault but the event, unlike the picturesque and undulating course, was decidedly flat.

The Facts;
Firm Ground.
A total of seventeen runners.
Four races and two walkovers.
Three favourites at unbackable prices.
Five winners out of five runners for the Turner’s.
Four wins from four rides for James Owen; he didn’t look quite so dejected today!

Hunt Members
Two runners; Ruperts Choice at 4/9, ridden by Andrew Braithwaite for the Sporborg family, and Ballad at 7/4, ridden by Caroline Featherstone, owned by her mother in law and trained by her husband.  
Ruperts Choice - led most of the way, although he had to be niggled along at times. Went 5 lengths clear at the 13th.  
Ballad - tracked leader, outpaced at 13th but ran on again to close gap. Joined leader at last, came clear on the run in. 

Intermediate
Without doubt, the race of the day. 
7/4 Bruan – winner of the Restricted on the same card last year but badly off form since. Given a considered ride when running his best race for sometime to be second to New Ross at Higham last week. 5/2 Society Lad – had run well at Horseheath in the past, notably when a close fourth to Sense of Adventure at the last meeting. 3/1 Gawngaddin – Nibby Bloom’s only ride at the meeting. No form since 1999. 5/1 Monsukh – pulled up in her three previous outings this year, but looked a picture in the paddock. Owner Caroline Eagle jocked herself off so that Alan Coe could give the mare stronger handling.   
Monsukh - needed some persuading early on, but when sent to the front she jumped better and seemed to enjoy herself. 
Gawngaddin - did not jump well and fell at the 15th. 
Society Lad - gained lengths in the air, and was going well in second when also falling at the 15th. 
Bruan - content to sit at the back of the field until the 14th when James Owen asked him to take closer order. Joined Monsukh on the run to the 16th and came home unextended. The experience will have done him nothing but good, and he will probably come on further for it. 
  
Ladies Open 
The Wiley Kalmuck (Zoe Turner) walked over. 
  
Mens Open 
Corston Joker (James Owen) walked over. 
  
Restricted 
Westfield John (1/3) – held up early, led 13th, joined 15th, kicked clear from 16th to win easily. The Burglar (6/1) – lively on way to post, jumped slowly throughout, joined leader 15th, could not go pace 16th, ridden out for second place. Lone Star (7/1) – prominent early, lost position 13th, ran on again from 16th. River Gala (20/1) – tailed off after first circuit.   

Maiden 
Fine And Dandy (4/11) – tracked leader, took it up 15th, won easily Crown Rule (5/1) – led until 15th, kept on one pace for second Midnight Dynamite (20/1) – tracked leading pair, not go pace second circuit, remote third Just Lute (7/1) – always behind Bright Torino (33/1) – chased leaders early faded second circuit.   

Biggest Cheer - From the Bet 365 Mobile Betting Shop when local horse Fair Exchange (a multiple winner at Horseheath) won the Hunter Chase at Market Rasen 
  
Most Noise – From the competing funfair attractions. Sometimes it was difficult to hear the commentator above the strains of Feargal Sharkeys “A Good Heart” remixed (undigitally) with Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual”.   

Biggest Controversy – Ruperts Choice winning the best turned out award in the Hunt Race. He was Mr Jogging to Keep Fit, compared with Ballad’s Mr Finely Tuned Athlete. One suspects a little bit of crawling!   

Winners – the Turner’s (as well as the prize money, now five bottles of bubbly and five decanters better off), and stallholders (who did a roaring trade as people passed time queuing while the walkover pantomimes were acted out).   

Wished They’d Have Stayed At Home – the bookies (trade was painfully slow), punters (little to bet on), and Mulluck Wells, sponsors of both the Ladies and Men’s Opens.   

Overheard Conversations; 
Well dressed lady - of the girl leading the Turner’s Westfield John in the Parade Ring – “At least she’s smiling, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Zoe smile”.   

Punter – as they chalked up the odds for the last - “I don’t think I’ll ever go to a worse meeting than this.”   

Paddock Watcher – of the local reporter, still stuck in the bar – “It was the first time he’d known the result of the next two races before they were run. He didn’t have to do anything; I even got the SP’s for him”

 

this way to Jumping For Fun