Over 9mm of rain fell overnight and with the heavy rain not
relenting throughout the day at this North Oxfordshire venue, the going was
quickly changed to good with good to soft in places. Crowds are often huge
at this popular spring meeting however the poor weather kept many away, the
viewing is good although unfortunately the first fence was obscured by trees
next to the house.
1. Hunt Members
Only 3 runners were declared for the opening race with the Owen family
accounting for two of the runners with James riding True Chimes for Jenny
and father Herbie riding in his first point riding the 15 year old
Tellaporky for Emma. The remaining runner was the odds on favourite Shortcut
Shorty ridden by Charlie Wadland and bidding for his second members win at
the course this season.
Amazingly at the off the three runners virtually walked up
the Mollington hill (they went quicker to post) and the pace didnít
improve that much for the rest of the race. It turned out to be a sprint
from the final two fences with True Chimes just getting up to beat the fav
by half a length with Herbie just 5 lengths behind. The time was 8m 18 secs
which must be one of the slowest races at this track. However it proved a
memorable race for the Piddington team.
Another odds on favourite bit the dust here as the Caroline Bailey My Best
Buddy could only finish third of seven behind the Joan Tice trained &
market rival Teeton Priceless. Well ridden by Paul Cowley, he was always up
with the pace & held off the determined effort of Tim Underwood on
Mister Pepper. The favourite made a number of mistakes and jockey Nick
Pearce did well to keep the combination together. He had finished a length
up on the winner when second in the Pytchley members at Guilsborough. A
double bonus for connections was that the winner also won the best turned
out award. The time of the race was 6m 38 secs some 100 second quicker than
3. Mens Open
The combination of Caroline Bailey/Nick Pearce wasted no time
in gaining revenge for the previous defeat when the odds on favourite Choral
Dream battled gamely up the hill to defy challenges from Romany Pearl/James
Owen, Bullfinch/Paul Cowley & Paddies Boy/Jack Young.
Choral Dream, an easy winner of the Oakley confined & a
gallant second last time at High Easter, is improving and is one to follow.
The runner up Romany Pearl was also a winner at the Oakley. He was slightly
outpaced on the final circuit but finished to some effect. Bullfinch ran
well and was also entered in the Ladies Open and surely would have been a
cert there. A close fourth was the Jon Trice Rolph Paddies Boy, trained in
Ireland last season by Jim Lambe. He won hunter chases at Downpatrick &
Gowran Park and also finished fifth behind Lord Atterbury in the novice
Hunter Chase at Aintree on Grand National day. This was his first glimpse of
form in Britain and should not be long in winning.
4. Ladies Open
Only four went to post with the two market rivals dominating
proceedings. The odds on favourite was Kentford Busy B a promising course
second behind Freedom Fighter and brought down at the third last week (after
3 very slow jumps) in the action packed Towcester Hunter Chase and ridden by
Sarah Phizacklea, fresh from her success the previous day in a Bangor On Dee
Hunter Chase. The favourite &
market rival Ryans Star (Jo Parris) jumped the last together but a slight
mistake by Kentford proved costly as he she went down by half a length. Ten
lengths back in third & the only other to finish was Ela Agapi Mou
ridden by Dawn Ball. The fourth runner Handley Park (no connection!) crashed
out on the final circuit. The winner could well win another Ladies Open
particularly given decent ground as this 11 year old gelding didnít seem
to relish the underfoot conditions.
With the rain still falling and conditions deteriorating, two
fences were omitted due to water lying on top of the ground. Six runners
went to post with the odds on favourite Teeton Fizz trying to give trainer
Joan Tice a double on the day. However she had to settle for the runners up
spot with victory going to the Jimmy Tarry trained Crested Manor well ridden
by Andrew Sansome. Fifth in the Grafton members over course & distance,
this 12 year old gelding amazingly didnít make his debut until last season
when the same combination pulled off a 33-1 shock at Dingley. Jimmy Tarry
opted to ride stalemate Lah Di Dah Lad but could only run on at one pace to
With the rain still pouring down, only the brave or foolhardy
were left & only a handful of bookies braved the elements to the end.
Ten went to post in the Maiden and this time three fences were missed out.
There was a sixth successive odds on shot in Simply The One trained by Jenny
Pidgeon at Helmdon in Northants and ridden by Harry Fowler. The favourite
duly obliged (heavily backed despite the shortage of bookies). This came on
the back of his promising second behind Agua Ardente at Twseldown. The one
to note here was the newcomer Sovereign Dove ridden & trained by Fred
Hutsby. He made eye-catching headway to finish second just under 3 lengths
behind the winner. The only other finisher to complete was Teeton Diamond.
Rockford was up with the leaders when he slipped up before the third last
giving Charlie Wadland a nasty spill. Conditions were rapidly getting worse
and it is extremely doubtful that any more racing could have taken place.
Credit goes to the course executive for managing to complete
the day under very testing conditions.