Racing at Hackwood Park on Sunday took a while to warm up, but when it did there were exciting finishes and notable performances.
The three runners in the opening Hattingley Valley Members Race failed to finish - race declared void!
Half an hour later, in front of a bumper crown, 19yo Page Fuller on the 15yo That's Rhythm ran out a comfortable odds-on winner of the Knight Frank Ladies Open. 'That was our 14th win together,' said a jubilant Fuller, 'for his age he is quite remarkable and there is a race or two more for him before the season ends.'
Later in the day, Fuller completed the double in the Aga Restricted on 8yo Carrigkerry, but had to pull out all stops to beat Tandori by a length.
Both That's Rhythm and Carrigkerry are trained by Page's mother Charlotte, who said, 'We paid a bargain basement £1,100 for him as an unraced 5yo. He cracked a hip bone last year, but since his maiden win in 2013 he's bee placed three times and now should have a bright future.'
Local leading rider and trainer Philip York was absent from the Hackwood changing room for the first time for many years, but you cannot keep a good man down, and York saddled Conna Cloud to win the Ward Thomas Removals Maiden by a length from Crockery.
'I had a tumble and was taken to hospital last week, so I couldn't ride him myself,' said York, 'James Tudor took over and gave Conna Cloud a cracking ride.'
Conna Cloud is owned by retired Bank of England director Ian Cobbold, whose prolific Dante's Storm won hard held in the Bonhams Mens Open. Once again Tudor was in the saddle but the horse is usually ridden by York who said, 'I used to train him, but I advised Mr Cobbold to send him to Alan Hill in the Chilterns where the gallops are much more suitable. Fortunately, I kept the ride - until today! But I'll be back on board next time with any luck!'
For 20yo Hugh Nugent this was a day he won't forget. Hugh rode his first winner on Fiasco in the Night Nannies two and a half mile Maiden - but had to sweat out three minutes before the judge called him a winner by a short head from Fair Lucky.
'We were locked together up the run-in,' said Hugh, 'and I wasn't at all sure I had won!' Nugent works on the stable staff of top NH trainer Charlie Longsdon but will be off to university next year to read history. Fortunately the judge had a movie camera on the finish line - the evidence silencing grumbling backers of Fair Lucky.
Only two turned out for the Quilter Cheviot Club Members, another 15yo, Mnason beating Sona Sasta by seven lengths.
Chairman Charlie Corbett was delighted with the attendance estimated to be well into the four figure mark. 'We benefitted from the sponsorship of NFU Mutual and hope to welcome them again next year.'
The second and final Hackwood Park fixture will be on Easter Monday 6 April.
Hattingley Valley Club Members - 3 ran - none finished - race void
Knight Frank Ladies Open
1. That's Rhythm (Page Fuller), 2. Break the Chain, 3. Trueflying colours
4, head - 4 ran - 6m33s
Bonhams Mens Open
1. Dante's Storm (James Tudor), 2. Chardonnay, 3. Woodlark Island
15, 4 - 3 ran - 6m17s
Quilter Cheviot Club Members
1 Mnason (Ben Brackenbury) 2 Sona Sasta
won by 7 lengths - 2 ran - 6m42sec.
Night Nannies Maiden (2 1/2 miles)
1. Fiasco (Hugh Nugent), 2. Fair Lucky, 3. Amber River
short head, 15 - 11 ran - 5m20s
1. Carrigkerry (Page Fuller), 2. Tandori, 3. Marlpit Oak
1, 6 - 7 ran - 6m32s
The Ward Thomas Removals Maiden
1. Conna Cloud (James Tudor), 2. Crockery, 3. Whispering Bob
1/2, 10 - 8 ran - 6m33s