VALE OF AYLESBURY WITH GARTH & SOUTH BERKS
Easter Saturday 26th March 2005
by Geoff Handley
Point To Point Racing has taken place at Kimble deep in the heart of the Buckinghamshire countryside since 1912 but even before that date the Vale held races under rules in Long Meadow in Aylesbury and the National Hunt Chase now an integral part of the Cheltenham Chase was run here for one year, racing finished in 1929 bowing out with the Waddesdon Chase. The Vale Of Aylesbury Hunt itself is quite new dating from 1970 when three hunts merged, the Hertfordshire, Old Berkeley and South Oxfordshire Hunts and a couple of years ago it merged yet again with the Sandhurst Region Garth & South Berks who for many years had raced at Tweseldown.
The course itself is very picturesque with the rolling Chiltern Hills and their glorious beechwoods behind the paddock and offers fine views over the distant rural landscape.
The anticipated poor weather with a cold easterly wind failed to materialise and instead the sun was out on this Easter Saturday bringing out the crowds in their thousands most of whom appeared to cooking barbecues. Viewing of the course can be restricted due to the parked cars but excellent views of the racecourse can be obtained from the top of the slope next to the Stewards room.
The going was good (good to firm in places) and the course looked in good order.
Local Trainer, Lawney Hill had seven of the fourteen original entries for this opening race on the card with James Tudor down in the programme to ride them all, in the end they chose Mr Splodge the Kingston Blount specialist (winner five times) and the odds on shot won easily by a distance with the field appearing to be spread across the whole of Buckinghamshire. The only danger to Mr Splodge was a loose Alsatian as he approached two out. The combination won this race last year with Mr Snowman. Mister Pearly finished a well beaten second for George Walters, this horse had shown no ability under rules for John Mullins but purchased by Tim Underwood at the Ascot sales for £6,000he won a three runner modest maiden at Larkhill. Tim Underwood is still grounded by the collarbone he broke when the horse fell at Charing. Third was the second favourite Brownies Tale for Ben King/Karen Lawther, looked well in the paddock but a mistake at the water jump on the second circuit soon had him in trouble, finally fourth and final position went to Kingfisher Star, Jessie Lodge/Phiippa Lodge (led to 10th until weakened)
Only three turned out for the Intermediate but it saw the best finish of the day with the outsider Doli Cygnus (6/1 was readily available) ridden by Fred Hutsby just beating the odds on favourite Bolide Du Aunay and foiling a quick double for Tudor/Hill. The race was run at a hack canter with the favourite setting the pace but with Doli Cygnet hard held putting in some impressive jumps, Bolide Du Aunay still had the lead at the last but Fred Hutsby came with a storming run after the last to win on the line, I though from my deceptive angle it might have been beaten but the judge announced a half length victory for Doli Cygnus. An impressive start to Pointing for this seven-year-old grey mare, she had eight runs under rules being placed in a Hereford bumper. Romany Pearl was always struggling for Nick Docker, this thirteen year old didn't make his debut until the age of ten but has won four points including the Oakley Members the last two years at Brafield-On-The-Green
Victory went to King /Lawther on Tanager, this workmanlike gelding has earned the dreaded Timeform squiggle but I think that is somewhat unjustified. A winner of this season's classic Lord Ashton of Hyde's Challenge Cup at Dunthrop, he then ran at Huntingdon finishing seventh after being dropped out of contention but looking to have plenty of running in him at the finish, it then stayed on to be seventh again at Sandown over an inadequate trip before winning at Newbury, getting up close home to be the Paul Nichols trained Silence Reigns, starting a very generous 16/1, (backed him on the Tote at 20's). Finally his last run was in the Foxhunters where after a mistake, Ben King pulled him up. Would have probably won two hunter chases last season but for unseating his rider at Cheltenham and Towcester.
The race itself saw the lead change many times between Tanager, Bering Gifts for Tudor/King and Razer Blade for Rowan Mahon, however Tanager pulled clear on the final circuit to win under hands and heels by twelve lengths, Even money was available in the ring. Runner up was Bering Gifts with the fourteen year old Down in third for Sam Waley-Cohen who was held up in rear with a mistake two out doing him no favours. Razer Blade pulled up before jumping the last. Four Ran
Seven runners lined up in the Ladies but with two dominating the betting market, Stromness was slightly odds for Heather Irving on following victories in two Mollington Ladies and Lava for Claire Hart and Banbury trainer Julie Marles. Lava was chalked up at 9/4 by the bookies but this was soon knocked down to 7/4 following sustained support in the ring, looked fit in the paddock and was led round by two handlers.
Stromness got rather excited in the chute leading from the paddock to the racecourse proper.
Both the two market leaders were held up with Lava biding his time right out the back, Stromness took up the running on the final circuit but Lava making good headway joined the favourite approaching two out and a fine jump sealed issues with Lava going on to win by 10 lengths, well ridden by Claire Hart. This was his fourth win in points and will have one more run before connections decide whether to go for the Gerrard Ladies Championship Hunter Chase Final at Hereford on 10th May, wont be risked on anything firmer than today as apparently suffered from sore shins last season,
3rd Polo Pony (always with leaders until weakened three out)
4th Prince Of Saints (swtng, forced pace until weakened final circuit)
5th Pele Mele (lw, always mid division)
Ryans Star Pulled UP 10th
Mustang Molly Mistake 6th,soon Pulled Up,
Sherwood Rose wasted no time in winning this Restricted following his maiden win last Saturday at Siddington, for jockey Mick Harris. The same tactics were adopted again with Sherwood Rose making all to win going away by an impressive distance, putting in a particular fine leap two out, Trained by Norma Field just north of Stratford, apparently she has improved out of all recognition since going hunting with the Croome and West Warwickshire, loving the hills, Backed down from 5/2 into 2/1
2nd Jurist: Mathew Keen,7/4 Jt Fav ( mistakes 4th & 5th, ran on take poor second at pst)
3rd Rian Bo Padraig ( always chasing leader, lost runner up spot close home)
Serves You Right 7/4 Jt Fav ( tired when blundered and UR at last)
Moscow's Return ( pushed along in rear first circuit, PU 15th)
A well deserved win for Hornbill to give Ben King and Karen Lawther a double on the day, placed three times this season at Andoversford,Mollington and Kingston Blount, (beaten fav twice), drifted in the ring from 6/4 to 2's but jumped well here always up with pace he ran on strongly to beat the Jon Trice-Rolph ridden Arctic Summer who surely must win a maiden soon, now placed seven times, looked well in the paddock.
3rd Sir Harry Henbit
4th Freemantle Doctor
Fawsley Lake (mistake 6th, pulled up 10th)
Top Bombing (fav, held up in rear, mistake 16th and pulled up, disappointing)
La Ganadora ( always mid division, pulled up 16th)
Two P's (pulled up before two out)
Finally, an old chestnut discussed many times on the Forum is the cost of admission, an entrance fee of £20 was charged here with no discount for single occupancy of cars (despite asking) which is far too expensive to see thirty one runners in action, many other meetings have offered a dispensation and surely a charge of say £6 to £8 should be charged for individuals with a maximum charge of £20 for a full car. It is only £15 in Tatts for the forthcoming Foxhunters at Aintree and in order to attract more racegoers to Point To Pointing the local hunts have to come up with a consistent charging policy.