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Saturday 23rd April 2005
by Simon McInnes

There was a disappointing shortage of runners on the day but plenty of incident to consider and Jamie Owen made the journey from north of the Thames worthwhile as he waltzed off with a treble.

Savills Confined
1: Runningwiththemoon 2: Oxendale 3: Castle Prince
winner owned R Newby, trained M Burman, ridden Jamie Owen
Only five stood their ground from an original tally of fifteen, and four of the runners were actually visitors from East Anglia. Perhaps the locals were dismayed by the the not overly intimidating presence of Oxendale, who likes the tracks and has not had his annual win yet this season. He nearly did it today, as he kept on in pursuit of Runningwiththemoon all the way to the line, and when that hard to type rival was a touch awkward at the last, Oxendale might have won had he pinged it, rather than having an inopportune moment of copy the leader. At one stage Magic Lodge seemed a possible to take a hand in the finish, but he made a couple of errors when the pace hotted up a mile out and dropped out of it very quickly from that point, pulling up four from home.

Despite the fence after the course entrance looking a bit lacking in inches this year, the field manage to kick a big lump out it. They are (from right to left) Runningwiththemoon, Magic Lodge, Castle Prince and Pampered Gale. A sliver of Oxendale is visible in the middle

Hiscox Intermediate
1: Westfield John 2: Lordston
winner owned & trained JM Turner, ridden Jamie Owen
The bare result said that Westfield John got the best of a dour struggle between a pair of out of form horses - although his last run hinted that the winner was more a candidate from the would not rather than could not school of losing. After some rather laboured and apathetic jumps in the closing stages they both managed to get round. However, the third runner had a very controversial race Give Us A Chance had won an unexceptional maiden at Catsfield, at least showing some recent zest, and was in the lead and going clear under pressure from the saddle at the thirteenth. The other pair were also ridden along and still losing ground, when Give Us A Chance slowed dramatically approaching the next, clambered over, and was immediately pulled up. He was dismounted immediately, but I overhead on a fence steward's walkie-talkie that there was no need for the vet so presumably the injury was as run of the mill as can ever be the case, and horse and connections walked back looking rather fed up with things.

Weald Waste South-East Hunts Club Veteran & Novice Riders
1: Silver Lake
From an original entry of fifteen, this disappointingly cut up into a walkover. Given the general absence of decent opportunities for young riders in the area, this was an especially unfortunate race for this to transpire in.

Polebrook Ladies Open
1: Minino 2: Spring Gale
winner owned, trained & ridden Caroline Taylor
The numbers picked up with six runners, and despite the Owen hat-trick, the winning jockey made a claim for the riding plaudits on the day. The start was unfeasibly ragged for such a manageable field, and Minino managed to get left a good fifteen lengths behind the leader when they set off. Caroline Taylor retained her composure, slowly eating into the deficit. By the fifth, the pair had reached the back of the main bunch, at the seventh fence they were having a stab for second spot, and at the tenth, they took on the leader, going clear three from home, when Persian King fell. Veteran Spring Gale was always up with the pace, but working to do so from halfway, and this defeat by ten or so lengths with no excuse indicates how good he is these days, but he has an impressive tally of wins to take into retirement with him, even if he does not add to it.

Marco Weighing Systems Men's Open
1: Cedar Chief 2: The Grey Baron 3: Dunrig
winner owned & trained K Tork, ridden Gordon Gallgher
A mere eight entries was ominous, but half of them ran and it provided quite a decent spectacle for the crowd. Cedar Chief did not hit the front until halfway, and when he did, it seemed likely that he would scoot clear. However, The Grey Baron has recently been revitalised and he made a solid job of giving chase. He never quite convinced that the gap would be breached unless the leader made a mistake, but Cedar Chief had to keep up the work. Dunrig and Scotch Bob were soon left well behind but both at least completed. Dunrig actually led until the eleventh, but once Cedar Chief got in front of him, he dropped out of contention ominously quickly.

It remains a bit cat and mouse at this point of the point, for Scotch Bob (6), Dunrig (3) and Cedar Chief.

Grant's Cherry Brandy Open Maiden
1: Shannon Quest 2: Hills Of Rakaposhi 3: The Rollerskater
winner owned& trained JM Turner, ridden Jamie Owen
Perhaps it was a day for everyone in the south-east to have a lie-in, as after fielding just three runners in the first trio of races, the locals unearthed seven of the eight that lined up for the finale. However, the sole traveller from afar landed the spoils. Shannon Quest looked his usual excellent self in the preliminaries, but prior to today he had not been able to translate appearance into performance. With his rivals being very much known and modest quantities, he found that moment for a place in the sun was just after 5.00pm on 23/4/05. The runner-up had been seen off in a below par mares maiden, so she doe snot give the form a terribly solid look. As a mere five-year-old, The Rollerskater ought to be able to improve, and encouragingly she seemed none the worse for her fall last time and only really made a hash of one fence, late on when fatigue may have been a factor. A word about the outsiders. Viva Bingo had built up to this race with form of UUR, and yet he managed not to be the rank outsider. Celtic Bounty was the animal insulted with longer odds, and although he was making a belated seasonal debut, he looked well enough, but ran to the standard that the bookies were expecting!

The adverse bend on the far side sees the maidens give a fine impression of travelling ever so fast. Viva Bingo (grey & pink) has the edge on Cleverest (grey & red). Shannon Quest is more patient in blue and white at the back.

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