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East Sussex & Romney Marsh
Catsfield
Sunday 10th April 2011
by Simon McInnes

This is an example of how pleasant an afternoon it is at Catsfield, as long as you go not expecting to see any future stars in action. There are six races, you have three bets, all of which come second. In addition, you identify a horse which has a cracking chance of being second to the odds-on favourite in a five runner race, and do not back it without the favourite, at 11/4, so it duly comes second to the favourite. And a jolly splendid local pie does a grand job for lunch. So a lovely afternoon is had by all. That is how nice Catsfield really is.

Going: Firm, Good to Firm places. The number of runners suggested that people were happy enough with it, and the thick covering of grass surely helped.

Race 1: Friar House Antique Jewellry Members
1: Tirol Livit 2: Delgany Gale 3: Soldershire
Winner owned: Yoni Sharp, trained: Philip Sharp, ridden: Oliver Wedmore
Tirol Livit: One of the unconsidered outsiders, he has not really achieved anything of note pointing, and had found the fences too confusing in both runs this year. His rider, posting a first ever win, hung in contention and proved quite effective in the finish, when he needed to be. Delgany Gale: Below par in two earlier runs this season, proved to be so again, as this race should have been landed with ease once the favourite fell, but he was completely outdone by the winner without any excuses. Soldershire: Gets ever more batty with age (especially at this course), and dropped from first and apparently having good fun to fourth and struggling as a consequence of trying to dodge out into the horsebox park after fence eleven. Ridden by the twin brother of winning jockey, he is not really the ideal mount for a pilot making his debut - although Wedmore Q did seem to be getting louder support than his twin from the young ladies in the crowd... The Hardy Bishop: Making his seasonal debut, he had not offered much in a handful of Irish and British runs, but was posting a big show, until he ran out of steam at the fifteenth, from which point he dropped out so quickly that we are left wondering that we may have seen all that he has to offer, which is not enough. Sam Whiskey: Has proven he can run a bit, and also that the fences are an issue, as he has form this season of UU2. Today he seemed to be ill at ease on the ground and was fifth and not going especially well when he fell at the fourteenth.

Race 2: Lady Devenport Memorial South East Hunts Club Members, Novice and Veteran Riders
1: Flowersoftherarest 2: Reflex Blue 3: Ouragan Lagrange
Winner owned: Huntin Shootin Fishin Partnership, trained: David Phelan, ridden: Freddie Mitchell
Flowersoftherarest: This was an easier task than his recent convincing Godstone win, and only the ground could really be posed as a reason to be against him. It did not set a problem, and he won extremely comfortably. Reflex Blue: A wily fourteen year old who knows what a win is, and all the best ways to avoid it, his own self preservation instinct makes him a safe carriage, and it was not a surprise that he managed to wriggle is way into being a distant best of the rest, just as the winner crossed the line, far, far ahead. Ouragan Lagrange: Won a hurdle for Gary Moore, and threatened to repeat that a couple of times, his switch to pointing has been outstandingly unsuccessful, with two pulled ups and a refusal - his jumping under rules was decidedly dodgy as well. Completing here was a sign of progress, but not one you can trust him to repeat. Mr Moneymatters: Got especially sweaty in the paddock, but still won best turned out. He led for most of the first couple of miles, but had no more to give when the winner passed him, and faded enough for the other pair of finishers to reel him in. Strath Gallant: Carrying a debut rider, he unseated at the eighth. The Unseating Of The Debut Jockey has been a rite of passage rarely ignored in the south-east this season, and Soldershire had made a strong effort to do the same in race one.

Race 3: NFU Mutual, Flimwell Mixed Open
1: Master T 2: Aughlea Bridge 3: Captain Crackers
Winner owned: Mr & Mrs P Bull, trained: Suzy Bull, ridden: Peter Bull
Master T: Never a horse to have complete faith in, he was able to accommodate odds-on backers today due to the paucity of opposition, a skill which he manages to utilise at least once a season. His ability to go on fast ground helps a lot, and if it stays dry he will get one or two more 'hard to throw away' chances before the end of term. Aughlea Bridge: Ran very promisingly on debut at Detling in the depths of dreary January, but his failure to pick up a win is becoming worrying. He got outpaced early on the fast ground today, and it does not appear that this going is the answer. Anyone have an idea what might be? Captain Crackers: Although his only win was a seller, he managed to get rated 106 over hurdles, and stayed fairly well, so it was disappointing that after a clear round (he fell on his pointing debut), he could not get a bit more competitive with the first two than was the case here - he handled fast ground under rules. Orfeo Conti: Has either pulled up or finished fourth this season, and he got round to be fourth again, but could just as easily have pulled up, as he was thoroughly tailed off.

Race 4: Oliver Beswick Hand Made Jumps South East Hunts Club Members Conditions
1: Vote For Doodle 2: Ilikehimmac 3: Mr Tee Pee
Winner owned: Mrs Victoria Phelan, trained: David Phelan, ridden: Tom Cannon
Vote For Doodle: Hung on by a neck in the closest finish of the day, and all season he seems to have inspired the horses against him to run to the peak of their ability. Perhaps the others just do not like the look of him, but for humans, he has posted a very honourable season of three wins and two seconds from just six races. Ilikehimmac: Makes the frame often, and posts the odd win, but also departs every now and then, and a series of blunders in the race kept rider Paul Blagg on his toes - although he was helping to set a frenetic pace. He went down fighting, but the mistakes cost him dear - again. Mr Tee Pee: In the vanguard and going well, he was awkward at the twelfth and lost his jumping direction for the rest of the race - sort of a Wigwam Bam! The first pair only really shook him off at the fourth last, but he was labouring to stay in touch up at the time, and currently he is a shadow of his prolific former self. Glenbower Woods: Like Mr Tee Pee, but more so. Two years ago, this would have been meat and drink to him, but he was unable to get himself in the race and eventually pulled up. He is only ten, so has time to turn it around, but it is now two straight seasons of miserable results. Balableu: Stayed in touch until the eleventh, but was then tailed off very quickly, and soon pulled up. New Lodge Express: Ran exactly the same as Balableu, pulling up at the same time.

Race 5: Nick Mills Memorial Restricted
1: Oscarsfriend 2: Timmies Gone 3: Arvakur
Winner owned: C Skilton & TH McMillan, trained: Chris Lawson, ridden: Jody Sole
Oscarsfriend: Had not run since winning an Irish maiden in Feb10, after coming second on debut the previous May. In the paddock he looked fittish, but perhaps 96.2% ready, rather than 100%. Due to the terrible opposition, the market was happy with that, and he was backed in from second favourite to be the clear jolly (at least on some boards). He led, cruising, at the thirteenth, and had his rider not phaffed around on the run in, presumably to give him as easy a race as possible, the margin would have been much greater than the official length and a half. He looks like a decent horse in the making. But not a prolific racer. Timmies Gone: Took ten attempts to win in Ireland, and only had one near miss along the way. He had run twice in Britain, not with great noteworthiness, and although Oscarsfriend outclassed him here, he can take credit for his persistence as the winning rider seemed determined to give him a chance. Arvakur: Was officially beaten only six lengths in third, which shows perhaps how weakly the first two finished, as he was tailed off at the third last. He has not achieved much this season, and not too much should be read into him making the frame. Some Story: A 15 year old veteran of many a distant placed run at a higher level, he looks to be past it now, even though he did not win his maiden until 2008. Gemini Jim: Won a shocking two and a half miler at Godstone, and was not a popular favourite in the betting here, presumably because some people in the crowd saw how little kudos his win carried. He was with the first two when he came under pressure at fence thirteen and was dropping off them when pulled up not long after.

Race 6: Grants Cherry Brandy Open Maiden
1: Inspired Forever 2: Mr Maybe 3: Saddlers Blaze
Winner owned: Mrs N Coe, trained: Chris Lawson, ridden: Jody Sole
Inspired Forever: Should be more accurately named Inspired Fornow, although he has put some iffy early jumping behind him to look like an improved performer in his last two races. Whether he entirely enjoyed the fast conditions was debatable, but he won a fairly poor maiden with a certain degree of authority. Mr Maybe: Sets the benchmark for this race low, as close to the off he was challenging to be favourite, despite the racecard form showing that he had only managed to complete in one of his last seven. Agreed he ran better last time, but it still ended in an unseated. With as clear a round as anyone is likely to get from him he was still not good enough. Saddlers Blaze: Poodled around with an admirable ignorance or denial of futility but never looked as if he was going to put in a threat to the winner, and made the frame based on staying power alone. He was placed in the 2m 5f maiden hunter chase at the Folkestone evening meeting last May, and given his fairly sound jumping and slow indomitability, you could not rule out a repeat of that achievement in 2011. Mortar: As late as the second last he looked the only danger to the winner, but that threat was fading with every stride, and in the end he tied up so badly that he failed to be placed. After a moderately encouraging first point, this was another backward step (after falling last time). Kanga Gold: Occasionally shows a glimpse of promise that raises the possibility of him doing something a bit better, but fifth here, even not beaten horribly far, is not one of those days, and he is becoming a bit too much of a perennial in maidens for comfort. He's Up The Road: Had been gradually finishing in better positions race by race, and was second, albeit not impressively, at Penshurst last time. He was totally off his game here (the ground, presumably), and was tailed off when pulling up at the fourteenth. Marge Ana: Failed to get beyond the first on debut, but did not shed her jockey until the tenth today. At that rate of progress, a completion could happen in the next two runs. Karrie Wong: There was a vague recollection of her having an eye-catching educational back in 2009, but she had not run since and did not complete a lap before pulling up, so even if that past memory has any basis in reality, it seems to have become irrelevant now.

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