South East PtP Supporters Club
Saturday 15th January 2011
by Simon McInnes
The weather forecast told us it was going to be windy, and with the course being on top an exposed hilltop in an exposed part of Kent, fans of bluster were not disappointed. The only flag or banner on show was the "weighed in" one on the number board and there were a few moments when that looked like it might fly off in a north-easterly direction. Does the meeting insurance cover members of the public being struck by signal flags miles from the course? Admittedly it did stay dry, and the basic temperature was not actually that cold, but those positives were more than offset by the inability to do basic things like turn the page of a racecard, or drink the top inch of a cup of tea before it was swept from the cup. The crowd was small, but a slightly disappointing level of entries was offset by a high proportion of them turning out to run, and the smallest field on the day was seven - which is pretty good going for the south east region.
Going: Soft (strong headwind coming up the hill to the finish, especially in the earlier races)
Race 1: Giles Hopper Memorial Open Maiden
1: Ringa Bay 2: Moscow Tiger 3: Gentle Jim
Winner owned: Mr M Kehoe, trained & ridden: Phil York
There are those who were present when Ringa Bay won a probably stronger race at Cottenham only to be disqualified that deemed him to be the victim of an injustice that day, and the presence of an apparent fair and square winner in a maiden had obvious appeal in the betting. However, Moscow Tiger is no mug, having been placed in a couple of bumpers back in 2009, and although having the absence to overcome, fitness did not seem to be a problem. That pair had the race in hand from the third last, and whilst Ringa Bay had to work hard to stay out in front, he never quite looked like he was going to let Moscow Tiger worry him out of it. The runner-up should be able to go one better fairly soon. Gentle Jim's owners had another runner in the race, and he was the one who sported the alternative colours. Early on he poodled round at the back and only made an effort to improve when it was a bit too late to be catching the leaders. Definitely can do better than this effort. Despite pulling up before the last, the was some merit in the effort of Sum Say So, who was a bit disruptive in the preliminaries, but seemed happy enough being asked for a similarly belated effort as Gentle Jim. He had missed 2010 and could come on for this exercise a fair bit - although he showed nothing in two runs in Ireland. The only newcomer was Normansmistress, who looked fit, and quite well, in the paddock. She was a bit ponderous with her jumping, which meant that she struggled to stay in touch and eventually pulled up. Our Poppy Day has been placed in a pair of two and a half milers, and was not ridden today as if there was much faith of her lasting this trip in the testing conditions. Which proved to be right.
Race 2: Hobart Slater South-East Point-To-Point Supporters Club Members Conditions
1: Dante's Storm 2: Control Man 3: Mount Sandel
Winner owned: IM Cobbold, trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Phil York
This had the makings of a cracking race, but Dante's Storm rendered it a cakewalk, going to the front towards the end of the back straight and when the rising ground and wind could have taken a toll, he showed no ill effects from having missed last year. All in all, a very impressive return. Control Man was the one horse that tried to live with the winner, but he had been burned off by the third last and was overtaken for second by Mount Sandel. That horse was near the end of his tether, and by the last fence had dropped back into third spot. Control Man had missed two seasons, so to end up second, even in manner best described as 'determined but slow' was a fair performance. Mount Sandel won a couple of three runner novice chases despite his jumping (not because of it), and will at least be better for the exercise. Further back, Supa Tramp, who has only won as far as Restricted level, did end up well behind in fourth, but was taking on a bit more than he is up to in this company. Down the field was Bannister Lane, a horse for whom no mud can be too deep and no race distance can be too far. He dislodged his rider on the way to the start and did three-quarters of a lap loose (chased much of the way by the clerk of the course on a quad bike - was that really likely to help slow him down?). Cleared to take part, he had a midfield amble round and should be spot on for the next time, assuming it stays wet and he is better behaved.
Race 3: Classic Security (UK) Ltd Restricted
1: In The System 2: Zaffarani's Star 3: Blue Dark
Winner owned: The Sammy Fuller Partnership, trained: David Phelan, ridden: Tom Cannon
The betting was for a while very positive for In The System, who had won in Ireland, once in fifteen tries, but also not seemed the most sure footed of creatures to walk the earth, and occasionally dump his rider on it. He made his attack a long way out, stalked by Blue Dark, but proved to have by far the most stamina, going six clear three from the finish, and only beginning to tie up well into the run-in, when the race was in the bag. Whether it was ground or trip, maybe both, Blue Dark failed to see out the race, and lost second to Zaffarani's Star. That horse does not have the most encouraging of jumping records, but apart from a hesitant stab at the twelfth, which lost him the lead, he was not too bad in that department, and certainly did not give up once headed. The other one prominent in the betting market was Florence Mary, but she never got going today and was no threat to the placed horses.
Race 4: Aga Ladies' Open
1: Rash Move 2: Balladeer 3: Roaringwater
Winner owned: K Hutsby, trained: Fred Hutsby, ridden: Hannah Watson
This proved to be the race of the day, with the official distances a neck and another neck, with an unusually committed Balladeer and a revitalised (for now?) Roaringwater refusing to give Rash Move a moment of peace and quiet all the way up the straight. Rash Move was shaping up as a pretty decent type of weapon in 2010, so we have a choice of saying it was a slightly below par return which he got away with, or taking a more optimistic view of the placed horses. Well, Balladeer has been in fair form in modest rules races of late and Roaringwater has run to this level before, just not consistently, so we can polish up the rose tinted spectacles. Launde was tailed off in fourth, but three miles in soft ground is probably beyond him. Four time winner last season Gold Heart was very laboured in his jumping and consequently could not keep up with main contenders. Forest Miller, who got placed often (but only won once) in modest handicap chases, was a bit disappointing overall and might not really have the will power for open races,
Race 5: Pat Wilkins Men's Open
1: Noakarad De Verzee 2: Massimo 3: Soleil Fix
Winner owned & ridden: David Maxwell, trained: Kim Smyly
The men's race also produced a close finish, but with Noakarad De Verzee ploughing on heartily, Massimo never quite convinced in the last quarter of a mile that he was going to reel in the leader. After missing last season, Noakarad De Verzee had be reported as having a fairly genteel reintroduction, and it paid dividends here. Massimo, on the other hand, had been AWOL since 2008, but looked really well in himself, and fit enough to do himself justice. The going probably caught him out, but it was quite a hard race after the absence and he may need a little time to get over it. The pace had been forced by Aughlea Bridge, an Irish import who only won two out of nineteen points, but had been placed in a big field hunter chase. He went off of the rails from the third last and lost the minor place to Soleil Fix. For a horse whose jumping under rules had been a fiasco, one that had prevented him becoming at least a solid handicapper, errors were kept to minimum. A small amount of improvement from that and he could be winning. The great Honourable Spider returned looking like the race would do him good. The other two runners made a little bit of chaos and bemusement for the day. Orfeo Conti effectively refused to jump off, and only started when the rest were going over the first fence. And Keepthedreamalive had some sort of tack problem, which meant that with his rider lacking stirrups and steering, he went around the fifth and was gradually coaxed into a halt.
Race 6: Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members, Novice Riders
1: Jack's Present 2: Sole Agent 3: Top Ram
Winner owned: Simon Tindall, trained, Nick Pearce, ridden: Bridget Andrews
After their rout of the oppo at Cottenham, Stroom Bank and Freddie Mitchell were a warm order for this, but the horse was no match for the mud, and they never seemed in any danger of being involved in the finish. That left yet another absentee for 2010 to pop up and make an early impact on the 2011 honours board, as Jack's Present helped maintain his decent strike rate, assisted by a rider who it is slightly surprising to see still qualified for novice races. Sole Agent can be a bit of an old sulker, but was clearly on a good day here, and held Top Ram, not the most prolific of winners, at bay for second. Captain Knock had unseated in his last two, but jumped safely until managing to get rid of his jockey four out. However, in sixteen chases, points and rules, Britain and Ireland, he has know firmly established "unseated" as his favourite outcome, managing it five times.