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Cambridge University Draghounds
Cottenham
Sunday 9th December 2007
by Simon McInnes

Having driven northwards in various types of rain, from blanket to heavy, it was very encouraging to find the last ten miles or so to be rain free. Of course, by the time I had walked from the car to the parade ring, the weather had caught up, and kept wet all afternoon. A couple of times it nearly stopped, but on each occasion the commentator made an optimistic comment, with inevitable results. The upside was a golden opportunity to see the multifarious ways in which the great British public interpret the need to be waterproof. Clothing aside, you might expect more to have adopted the 'in the bar with a mulled wine and jacket spud' approach. Then again, it was not the biggest crowd that the course has entertained, so perhaps the percentage was high?

Going: Good (Good to Firm places), changed to Good to Soft for race 7

Race 1: Dick White Referrals Intermediate
1: Brightwell 2: Anshanjack 3: Lightningconductor
Winner owned: Under The Hammer Partnership, trained: Penny Lownds, ridden: Mark Holdforth
It looked as if Lightningconductor had a fitness edge on his three rivals, but he was not able to run as explosively as he looked, and was left for dead by the first two. With two fences left, it seemed a bit of a set too was on the cards, which proved to be a false impression. Entering the straight, Anshanjack came to the end of his tether, leaving things relatively simple for Brightwell. Despite being beaten when unseating five out, long time leader Firion King did not pull as hard as has been reported in the past, and if this is a permanent infusion of common sense it could help improve him.

Race 2: James Craven & Sons Ltd Mens' Open
1: Tom's Prize 2: Moscow Court 3: Royal Atalza
Winner owned: Mrs P Joynes, trained: Scott Joynes, ridden: Adrian Wintle
Twelve of the sixteen entries turned out to race, five of them being new to pointing. The field was well spread out as early as the fifth, and Tom's Prize was amongst the pace setters all the way. Three from home, he only had Turnstile as a danger, but when that rival tied up rapidly, the race was won. The oft placed Moscow Court kept on well enough for second, but bear in mind his strike rate (now 2 from 14) is not quite tsar or star quality. Before some time off, Royal Atalza won chasing, hurdling and on the flat, and this sort of track should suit his pace - if it remains - in future. Farlington, an open winner last season and a visitor from Scotland, was struggling before he had gone a mile, and was too bad to be true or have obvious reason.

Race 3: Baileys Horse Feeds Ladies' Open
1: Fullards 2: Abbey Days 3: High Rank
Winner owned and trained: Mrs PM Sly, ridden: Lousie Allan
Another good numerical turnout, and with some more prolific winners than in the Men's race. The race was also a touch more competitive at the business end, where five were still in with a chance three from the finish. Fullards had been a decent staying hurdler under Rules only to never get to grips with fences. The pace appeared quick, and there were several lead changes along the way, but when they turned for home, Fullards was the most spritely one still up with the leaders, proving a bit of a revelation. Abbey Days, who has a decent winning record, was just hanging on for second from Christy Beamish when that horse fell at the last.

Race 4: Equip Restricted
1: Mr Tee Pee 2: Ballybough Billy 3: Merry Vic
Winner owned: The Teepee Club, trained: Alan Hill, ridden: James Tudor
With this being a typical restricted, chock full of letters in the runners' form, interspersed with the odd 1 and 2, and a few more 3 and 4s. It also confused the bookies, who priced up very late and mostly opened with 250% margins, without even including serious contender Merry Vic. Predictably, activity in the ring was limited for all but a few minutes. The winner, Mr Tee Pee, sweetly laid down the Wigwam Bam in the straight, winning with a bit up his sleeve. He had gone pointing after appearing to give away a couple of novice handicap chases, but there was no sign of misbehaviour here. The rain was probably against Ballybough Billy, just not enough to prevent him outstaying Merry Vic for second. This trio were well clear of greater than expected number of other finishers.

Willow Grange 8 year olds an up Open Maiden
1: Irishtown Leader 2: Another Gale 3: Alexander Musical
Winner owned & trained: Mrs M Barr, ridden: Fraser Barr
Only five runners, and between them there was little history to produce enthusiasm for even such a weak race. The lightly raced ones would at least have cause to claim that there was room to improve, but Irishtown Leader was at the opposite end of the scale, boasting seventeen previous futile adventures. It has to be assumed that the rider's delight was based on achieving what must have seemed the impossible dream rather than thoughts of Cheltenham or Aintree glory.

Race 6: John Bull & Co Ltd 4-7 year olds Open Maiden, Div I (2m 4f)
1: Silver Dollars 2: Always Right 3: Stroom Bank
Winner owned: Mr AR Parrish, trained & ridden: Philip York
This could have been an OK maiden, but I missed the official time due to wringing the rain out of my hat. Silver Dollars had shown bits and bobs of talent over hurdles, as had Stroom Bank, to a lesser degree, and the newcomer from John Wade's yard in second, Always Right, looked a nice sort of horse. In fact, he did threaten to win, having come from way off of the pace to challenge at the last. At this point Silver Dollars pulled out a bit extra and Always Right flattened out. Encouragingly, they gave the other thirteen a real drubbing

Race 7: John Bull & Co Ltd 4-7 year olds Open Maiden, Div II (2m 4f)
1: Sir Harry Cool 2: Ryhope Chief 3: Parkbridge Lad
Winner owned: Ian Moss, trained: Kate Buckett, ridden: Richard Bandey
Despite this being, on face value at least, the lesser division, there was something fairly taking about the manner in which Sir Harry Cool landed this. He had a couple of adequate bumper runs to his name, and he was getting seven pounds allowance for being a four year old, but there was plenty of enthusiasm about the way he forged clear late in the race. Ryhope Chief is also at the bottom of the age range, but his experience under Rules, despite some seconds, was in the bottom drawer and had begun to tail off as well. He did at least repel three runners that were breathing down his neck, including Parkbridge Lad (third in Ireland on his only run), Pertinax (placed in two from three) and For Your Benefit (rather less impressive numbers by her name, but quite prominent in the betting).

Plus Points
Anshanjack (race 1): Readily seen off in the end, but he ought to come on for the race.
Fauntleroy (race 3): Won four out of five last season, and ought to pick up the thread soon, having blown away the cobwebs with an untaxing midfield poodle round.
Esplendidos (race 4): If any runner emerges from the gloom of distant defeat in restricted, he at least shaped as if there could be better to come.
Always Right (race 6): A pretty decent debut Maglinn River (race 6): Had a fourth and a fifth in Ireland, and was granted a gentle sighter of UK pointing today.
Sir Harry Cool (race 7): Ordinary opponents but a nice style about his win

Down Arrows
Turnstile (race 2): A two and a half miler under Rules, he looked fit enough but short of stamina today.
New Entic (race 2): Ambled round at the back and ran on when it was all too late. He looked like a non-trier, but could just as easily have not been in the mood - he has a history of inconsistency and is also not a certain stayer.
Christy Beamish (race 3): He had only run twice since being second in the Aintree Foxhunters, completing neither time. On this occasion he was so far back that it looked as if a gentle warm up was on the cards. Having made rapid ground to get in the frame, he would have been second at best when falling. Beware a short price next time, especially if similar riding tactics are employed.
Merry Vic (race 4): Looked plenty fit enough in the preliminaries, so his late fade has discouraging stamina hints.

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