Sunday 13th February 2011
by Arthur Shone
Clerk of the course John Beddoes did an excellent job to get the racecourse fit for racing and the meeting went ahead with just one fence omitted in the back straight. It was therefore a tragedy to see the meeting abandoned after just three races for safety reasons. Welshpool trainer Phil Jones was officiating as a steward at the meeting; he explained the difficult decision that he and the other stewards had to make, he said, "The horse Court Appearance fell in the second race and sustained a serious injury which required specialist support with the horse taken away in the horse ambulance. We sought advice from the vets, who advised us that it would be unsafe to race without a horse ambulance in attendance, which sadly left us with no option but to abandon the meeting."
All thirteen horses were parading in the parade ring for the novice riders race, when the announcer David Brettell announced over the public address system that the meeting was being called off. This resulted in a queue of punters at the bookmakers to get their stakes back. I would imagine that it was not a good day for the bookies as the favourite had obliged in all three races that were run.
The opening Members race is one that Abberley trainer Joanne Priest seems to farm out, as she had won the race for the previous two seasons. Priest landed the race for the third concecutive year with Heavy Weather, who she also owns. Her charge took up the running at the second last under Richard Burton and despite idling in front ran out a two length winner from the long time leader Well Saved under Josh Hamer. Priest was delighted when I spoke to her afterwards, she said, "He has been a great servant for the yard, this is his seventh win and I would normally not have run him in this type of race, but he is thirteen now and he deserved to win a race like this." Heavy Weather still has plenty of ability despite reaching the veteran stage, which puts into perspective the good run from the runner up Well Saved, who is trained in Farndon by Nici Hugo for her partner Kevin Rowlands, on this evidence the runner up should be backed next time out.
Burton went on to complete a double aboard the Fred Hutsby trained Moscow Tiger in the second division of the Maiden which took place thirty five minutes later due to the horse ambulance putting the Jonathon Jarrett trained Court Appearance inside, who was badly injured in the first division of the Open Maiden. The Moscow Society gelding relished the testing conditions to beat the staying on Miss Tilly Oscar by a couple of lengths. Mystic Bay was a further distance back in third. Hutsby said afterwards that he was very relieved as he did not think his charge would handle the testing conditions.
There was an amazing finish to the first division of the Open Maiden. The Clive Johnson trained Palm Run with Ben Furnival in the plate looked to have the race in safe keeping when jumping the last with a lead of two lengths, but the Stuart Ross trained and ridden He's A Hawker who had ridden in the race in snatches landed over the last running and got up to win a thriller in the very last stride by a neck. The winner is owned by the trainers mother Irene, the trainer said afterwards the winner had a tendency to be a bit quirky.
Considering the rain lashed conditions yesterday, it was definitely one for the die hard point to point enthusiasts, many of which will have been disappointed that only three races out of the nine scheduled took place.