SOUTHDOWN & ERIDGE
Sunday 19th March 2006
by Simon McInnes
photos by Adam Goodburn
There were some changes to the bends for this meeting, to ensure better ground, and the distance was righted by moving the start nearer to the first fence. However, several races were run at a pace which suggested that the riders believed that the net effect was to make the trip a sterner test. It was also one of those days where viewing was hampered because some people insist on parking their people carriers and four wheel drives as close to the fences as possible, but then never go anywhere near them for the duration of the meeting. The fences are obscured, but a regular car would not have the same effect. If anyone can explain the point of this, it would be nice to hear.
Wellingham Members, Subscribers & Farmers
1: Great Jubilee
Winner owned: David Robinson & Stuart Robinson, trained: Gina Weare, ridden: Stuart Robinson
A relative non-event, as the gradually sharpening up Great Jubilee (he missed last season, but is still only eight) was only opposed by a teenager on a long run of non-finishing and whose rider was having her first ride. Credit goes to Claire Preston for avoiding the adrenalin rush and trying to force Irish Sea into a completion that he was not capable of. Great Jubilee was not extended, the only criticism being that he was fiddly at a few too many fences - which might have been lack of company, but would hold him in back if repeated in a proper race.
Calcutt Maclean Standen Confined
1: Old Kilminchy 2: Magnus Veritas 3: Whites Touch
Winner owned & trained: Mrs C Gorman, ridden: Marcus Gorman
The field of five was a bit disappointing, but they were conveniently all on the same page of the race card and four were realistic contenders for winning at confined level. For two miles they went round in a bunch, keeping a wary eye upon each other - like a horseback version of Blink Murder. With a lap to go the pace was quickened, and senior member Kenny Davis cracked when presented with the steep climb to fence thirteen. The normally reliable No Reward, who looked in very nick in the paddock, was soon off the pace as well, and it was below par for him to be out of contention so early. After a creditable run in a hunter chase on Monday, Magnus Veritas did not show any ill-effects of a quick reappearance, staying on strongly after being outpaced five from the finish, and making Old Kilminchy pull out all the stops to win. A mistake at the second last, when set to take command, meant that Old Kilminchy condemned himself to another hard race. It is almost as if he detests doing things easily, or likes making his supporters' bowels wobble a little. Whites Touch had only shown her best in some really bad races, but this season she has now been in the shake-up twice versus stronger opposition. However, the way she faded from the second last implied that she needs an easy three miles and fast ground.
Highfields Farm Ladies Open
1: Millenium Way 2: Exodous 3: The Wiley Kalmuck
Winner owned, trained & ridden: Caroline Taylor
With only two taking him on, Millenium Way was a long odds-on shot to continue his return to winning ways. The ultra-sedate pace played to the advantage of Exodous, who is yet to convince 100% with his stamina. In the end, Millenium Way put his nose in front approaching the thirteenth, and gradually extended the advantage without looking unduly fussed in achieving it, although he lacked a bit of fluency over the last couple of fences. The Wiley Kalmuck is a pale shadow of the horse that won nine opens over 2003 and 2004.
Kent Commercials Mens Open
1: Cape Stormer 2: The Grey Baron 3: Grand Ambition
Winner owned & ridden: Marcus Gorman, trained: Carolyn Gorman
Yet another winning favourite, in an only marginally bigger field, and the fifth course winner for Marcus Gorman over two meetings. Cape Stormer's victory was just about certain, but made more comfortable, when Little Farmer unseated two out. One of the reasons for the Gorman team's flying start to the season is that their pair of winners today have been holding their form despite the racing being hard work - and not everyone would have pinpointed them as ideal raw material for that sort of regime. The Grey Baron had a tough race last week, and only plodded on in this without shaping like he would catch Cape Stormer. As far as Grand Ambition goes, he completed at a slow rate of knots, and his novice rider is certainly getting an energetic education.
Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members, Novice Riders
1: River Bailiff 2: Avalon Buck 3: Good Vintage
Winner owned: Mr S Garrott & Mr G Tobitt, trained: Stephen Garrott, ridden: Tim O'Callaghan
The anticipated oddball collection of horses took to the field, but they at least came in decent numbers. The race concerned only the first two after Nicodemus finally unshipped his rider at the fifteenth - there had been a couple of near misses along the way. River Bailiff enjoyed an excellent and essential patient ride from Tim O'Callaghan as he does not get home ridden more aggressively or in a more strongly run race. He took a slight lead at the last, at which point Avalon Buck made a bad error which his rider did well to survive. He actually began to erode the River Bailiff advantage again on the rise to the line, but not nearly fast enough. Good Vintage kept at it as others around him wilted and the reward was a finish in the frame without really being in the shake up as a danger. Infidel caught the eye in the paddock, but ran like a non-stayer and his form for the season is very uninspiring. Suspicions that The Bag Man's win came in a spoon race (a downgrade from an egg and spoon affair) were borne out with his inability to mount any sort of challenge in this.
CB Richard Ellis/Junction Restricted
1: Tellem Noting 2: Court Award 3: Butcher Bayes
Winner owned: Mrs & Mrs S Coldrick, trained: Charlotte Marshall, ridden: Philip Hall
Following a pair of unseateds and a couple of seconds, was this a prelude to a double success from Tellem Noting, who ran a brave race in front? He seemed to get in close to a few, but the placed horses were no more fluent and it did not cost the Tellem Noting when the pressure was on. In the long gap after the fourth last, Butcher Bayes hinted that he might pose a real threat, but three fences in quick succession slowed him down sufficiently that he could not worry last week's maiden winner Court Award out of second. With the form of his win having been tricky to evaluate, Court Award did a fairly good job on the day of endorsing it, and is up to adding to his tally.
Powell & Partner Open Maiden
1: Jazz Attack 2: Withington 3: Tuareg
Winner owned: The Junction Partnership, trained: Michaela Tomlinson, ridden: Paul Blagg
Only a small field lined up, and the race was run at a pace that could have safely had a red flag man leading them around on foot at no risk to his personal safety (timed at 7:09), but Jazz Attack had come on for his debut and showed plenty of guts to hold off Withington on the run-in, when things finally got serious. Withington veered badly left after jumping the last and it would have been mighty close had he managed to follow a vaguely direct line. Not being able to go the pace in this dawdle is an ominous sign for Tuareg, but he is only five and might have some improvement to come. The elusive Tindall string finally issued a runner, and Willy Boy was favourite. His second place last season was highly insignificant form, but he appeared to pull up lame on this occasion.