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GRAFTON
MOLLINGTON
20th March 2005
by Geoff Handley
photos by Phil Britt

A rather chilly Mollington but so different from last season when the destructive gales had blown down the marquees and horse boxes had to be used as changing rooms. The going was good with good to soft in places

Hunt Members
Five went to post for the opening race with victory going to Stuart Morris on board the favourite Teeton Glaive. Given a fine ride by Stuart, he made headway on the bit before taking it up on the final circuit to beat the well-backed Earl Of Buckingham (Paul Cowley). Private Pete was a close up third and Crested Manor with Jimmy Tarry on board was running on in fourth, having drifted in the market from 7/4 to 7/2 and making many mistakes, inculding a particularly bad one at the fourth which the jockey did well to stay on board.
The final runner Lord Lanky was having his first run since 1997 (where he was pulled up in two races at Kimble and at Mollington) and was tiring when taking a crashing fall at the final fence. The penultimate fence was not jumped as the guardrail had been damaged on the first circuit.


Private Pete and Jason Newbold take the last in the Members race


Teeton Glaive and Earl of Buckingham approach the final fence in the Members race


Teeton Glaive (Stuart Morris) wins the Members race

Confined 
This race was delayed for some ten minutes due to the stricken horse still down at the final fence. Victory went to Fami who Gemma Hutchinson gave a fine ride, getting up to beat Father Jim by a couple of lengths despite a bad mistake five out. The favourite (weak in the ring) was Paymaster making his seasonal debut. A winner of three points including the Lady Dudley Cup, he was held up at the back making headway before hitting the last hard and walked home by Julian Pritchard. He should be spot on next time


Gemma Hutchinson and Fami take the Confined Hunts race


Tim Lane after being unseated on the first circuit from Bullfinch in the Confined Hunts race


True Chimes with James Owen and Henry Kinchin on Crown and Cushion in the Confined Hunts race

Intermediate 
Only seven runners for the Intermediate but an exciting race with East Anglian raider Ideal De Lille getting the better of Urban Hunter in a close finish and made the long journey worthwhile for David Kemp. Last seen winning a maiden here at Mollington in 2003, this nine year old chestnut gelding can win again. Odds on favourite Teeton Fizz had every chance for Nick Pearce, starting to make headway when hitting the penultimate fence hard and can win next time.


Guard a Dream and Urban Hunter in the Intermediate race


Ideal De L'ile leads Urban Hunter over the last to win the Intermediate race


The field approach the second fence in the Intermediate race

Ladies Open 
Stromness, the odds on favourite prevailed in the Ladies Open, a muddling sort of race with the lead changing many times. The Heather Irving ridden winner jumped slow at both the second and third fences but his jumping came together on the second circuit with some good leaps down the back straight and won going away by fifteen lengths. An easy winner here last time, this combination will be hard to beat in Ladies events. There was a bunched finish for the minor honours with Miss Zarnni (Sarah Phizacklea) just getting up to beat Storm Castle (Julie Wickens).


Louisa Clother and Nafsika in the Ladies Open race


Miss Zarnni (Sarah Phizacklea), Nokimover (Gemma Hutchinson) and Storm Castle (Julie Wickens) in the Ladies Open race


Stromness and Heather Irving complete a facile victory in the Ladies Open race

Mens Open 
They went a decent clip in this race and it saw an exciting finish with favourite Mussel Buoy just holding off market rival by a neck. A winner here at the last meeting for Rowan Cope and Tom Illsey, they had also won the restricted here the previous season. A short distance hunter chase must be on the horizon for this improving eight year old. Runner up was Gill'Mar ridden by Dominic Alers-Hankey who travelled well throughout with some good jumps, he is one to watch next time. Grecian Star was third and Circus Maximus finished from out of the clouds for Rupert Smith to run on strongly up the hill. A 4/1 shot, he is also worth considering next time


Mr Smudge and Ben King in the Men's Open


Mussel Buoy and Rowan Cope take the last to win the Men's Open


Mussel Buoy leads Grecian Star and Gill'Mar to the last in the Men's Open

Restricted
The feature of this race was the weakness in the ring of Lah Di Dah Lad from odds of 4/5 to 13/8 and the strength of support for Murphy's Magic. In the end the money talked with Julian Pritchard giving Murphy's Magic a peach of a ride coming with a perfectly timed challenge to take up the running as they jumped the last fence from Jimmy Tarry on board the uneasy favourite. Jimmy has not had a winner since this meeting last year and he walked back to the unsaddling enclosure having dismounted after crossing the line. Outsider Take The Odds who made most of the running was third for James Owen.


Lah-Di-Dah Lad and Jimmy Tarry runners up in the Restricted race


James Owen and Take the Odds in the Restricted race


Julian Pritchard wins the Restricted race on Murphy's Magic

Confined Maiden 
Fourteen went to post in this concluding event and it saw a win for Eastern Apple (Ben King) narrowly beating Play The King. Favourite Pro Am looked well in the paddock and ran a reasonable race before tiring. Home By Midnight also ran promisingly and both these maidens will win soon.


Eastern Apple (Ben King) take the last 2 lengths up on runner up Play the King (Amanda West) in the Confined Maiden race


Four horses lead by winner Eastern Apple approach the last in the Confined Maiden race


Glamour Girl and Jason Newbold lead the field on the first circuit of the Confined Maiden race

Finally, I was impressed with commentator Mark Johnson, who was very informative on latest betting shows & market moves, statistics, state of the going and an excellent race commentary.

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