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Club at TWESELDOWN
Sunday 7th January 2001
by Richard Mordan
A bright, sunny day, something of a pleasant contrast to the general weather of the past few months, drew a decent size crowd to the North Hampshire track for its final meeting of the 2001 season. They were rewarded with some reasonable fields and some close, exciting finishes.
The proceedings began at noon with the Members race in which the Nick Mitchell trained and ridden Gamay was sent off 4/9 favourite of the six runners. The well backed Lifes Work (4/1 into 5/2) made much of the running but when Gamay apparently eased past him two out, it looked like an easy win for the favourite, but Lifes Work refused to go down without a fight and in the first of several thrilling finishes, Marcus Gorman got the 8-year-old Lyphento gelding back in front where it mattered.
The Club Veterans & Novices race provided something of an action replay. The fifteen strong field was soon reduced by one when Thomas Crown fell at the first, but this time as long time leader Castle Arrow faded into an eventual fourth place, the Nick Mitchell trained and Richard Mitchell ridden favourite Yquem cruised past Sabre King approaching the home turn and managed to hold on to win by a head as the runner up fought back. I dont know much about fine wines but apparently the £80 prize wont buy connections too many bottles of Yquem. Highland Jack took the minor honours.
Highlight of the day was a strong looking Mens Open. Rectory Garden, successful at both Tweseldown meetings last season for father and son team Terry and Robert Biddlecombe, was sent off odds on favourite (4/5) in an eleven strong field containing former Whitbread Gold Cup winner Call it a Day and the useful ex-Irish runner Tell the Nipper. Favourite backers were not disappointed as Robert Biddlecombe gave Rectory Garden a patient ride to sweep past the front-running Nick Gifford trained Nasone on the home turn for a comfortable success. Nasone just held on for second ahead of the David Pipe trained Dr Jazz, running in the blue with yellow cross-belts of Peter Deal, took third place. Tell the Nipper seemed to run in snatches but stayed on for fifth place just behind Pro Bono. Call it a Day was badly hampered when Newby End slipped and fell at the turn after the water jump on the second circuit. The 8-year-old Phardante mare Sable View ran a blinder before falling at the last whilst disputing the minor placings.
According to the bookies, the Ladies Open only really concerned three of the six runners. The David Pipe trained M.C. Pipe owned Energie Sud opened up odds-on but drifted out and at the off was keenly contesting favouritism with Burntwood Melody and Mr Custard with some boards showing them as 7/4 co-favourites. In the event Mr Custard and Lucinda Sweeting, (or Lucid Sweating as my spell check would rather call her) were always at the rear of the field and never a factor, eventually trailing in a distant fourth. Energie Sud opened up an early lead in the fashion of so many Pipe Senior trained runners under rules but had run his race by three out and faded into third as outsider Persian Butterfly, fourth in the corresponding race last season readily held off the 11 year old grey Burntwood Melody. The winner, trained by C W Loggin and ridden by Tash McKim is owned by Tweseldown chairman Steven Astaire.
The biggest field of the day, sixteen, lined up for the Club Moderate race. Those brave enough to back at odds on in such a large field didnt have too many anxious moments as the Nick Gifford trained David Dunsdon ridden Strong Gale gelding Belvento (who had also won the best turned out award), justified favouritism with a smooth success over Dark Rhythm and Mr Mann. The early pace was set by Lisa Parrot on Spoofs My Game but they pulled up shortly before completing a circuit.
The final race on the card, an open Maiden, produced a field of eight and an interesting contender by the name of Indiana John. The French bred five-year-old is trained by David Pipe and owned by top national hunt owner David Johnson who was at the course to see him run. The horse, sent off 11/8 favourite was also providing champion rider Les Jefford with his first ride of the season. Five fences later, at the water jump on the first circuit, it provided him with his first fall of the season. The jump was omitted on the second circuit whilst Jefford received lengthy treatment from the paramedics. Let us hope that it turns out to be nothing serious and that the champion is back to maintain the defence of his title at the earliest opportunity. S. Hawes also took a nasty fall three out when his mount, High Sturt, whose jumping in the early stages had been far from fluent, ran out through the wing of the fence. The race was won by the 6-year-old Good Thyne gelding Beat the Bank trained by John Porter and ridden by David Crosse. Minor honours went to the other 5-year-old in the race, Amber Life, and Wink and Whisper.