South Midlands Area Club
Official Ground: Good to Soft
107 runners from 196 entries paid true testament to the impressive organisation and presentation of this meeting.
Jacalou provided Tom Weston with the first leg of his double for the day when taking the 4, 5, 6 and 7 year olds maiden. Unlucky to slip up last season on only her second start and refusing to start as a consequence on her first outing this season she followed up with an decisive 5 length win over Plettenburgh (later disqualified when Sam Drinkwater failed to weigh in) and Court Again (Tim Lane) a further 4 lengths back in third.
Over the Phone provided the second leg of Weston's double when taking the Intermediate in 6 minutes 30 to make this his third win on the bounce this season. Always handy the winner took up the running 2 fences from home from the long time leader Orient Legend (Tom Ellis) and the fast finishing Comrade Bob (Peter Mason).
The first division of the Restricted went to The Fast Frog who defied recent poor form to see off the challenge of the well-fancied Ashtown Boy (Sam Waley-Cohen) and Boddington Lad (Phil Nichols). Providing one of the closest finishes of the day the winner took over from long time leader Ringa Bay (Phil York) going towards the last and stayed on well under a strong drive from Richard Spencer.
Comealong Cornwall claimed the second division of the Restricted, the fastest by two seconds. Owned, trained and ridden by Mark Wall the Kayf Tara mare continued her good form this season to see off the strong challenge of Dusky Lory (Ian Bostock) by 1 1/4 lengths and the fast finishing Dermatologiste (Johnny Bailey).
The fastest time of the day came in the Men's Open from Nomadic Dancer under a strong ride from Liam Payter to defy Horsham Lad (Richard Burton). The well-backed winner came on from his first outing this season at Chaddesley to run out a comfortable 1 1/2 length winer in 6 minutes 24 seconds.
The Ladies equivalent, sponsored by AGA, went to Shernally (Jane Wiliams). The winner took up the lead 3 fences from home, was 8 lengths clear going to the last and stayed on strongly to see off her closest rival Mad Victor (Hannah Watson) 5 lengths back in second.
The first division of the Open Maiden race went to Doctor Kingsley (Will Telfer). Always close up the winner made good headway to lead four fences out and come home a convincing 10 length winner in front of Curries Brae (Mark Barber) and Roiofofthetigers a further three lengths back in third.
The second division of the Open Maiden race saw another 10 length winner when Gemini Ahhs (Sam Drinkwater) was left in front following Strong Silver's (Christopher Dawson) final fence run out. The 4/6 Favourite continued his consistent form ahead of Briery Star (Jamie Goss) back in second and Mrsilverlining (Jonny Flook) a distant 20 lengths back in third.
The final division of the Open Maiden, and the fastest of the three divisions by a convincing nine seconds, went to That's Ben who followed up on his two second's last season to see off the challenge of pointing debutant Timarello (Tom Ellis) by 1 1/2 lengths. The 5/4 Favourite travelled strongly throughout before taking the lead four fences from home under a confident ride from Richard Burton and will surely win again this season.
The eye catcher of the day for me was the second placed Tamarillo, stopped to almost a stand still when badly hampered by the early departure of Posh Trip she had influential ground to make up, was staying on strongly at the finish and should be in the winning enclosure soon.