Easter Monday 24th March 2008
by Simon McInnes
Aldington is a very pleasant venue and there were plenty of people there, and the meeting organisers had ensured a decent selection of refreshment outlets, plus multiple entertainment for the small percentage of kids not satisfied with rolling around in the mud - the betting ring being the most slippery area to make a dive to the ground look accidental. Apart from one short snow shower, the weather was friendly. So where were the horses? Only 22 ran all day, and the Grissell clan contributed a welcomely high proportion as owners or trainers or riders. Given that people had been bemoaning the lack of soft ground this winter, it was odd that when it was available, so few took advantage (entries were healthy, and there were not a huge number of runners two days earlier at Charing). The situation was on the cards, as on arrival there were ominously few horse boxes present, but on the upside, it is possible in the report to give every runner a mention! In fact, it would be churlish not to.
Going: Good to Soft (Soft places) - personal research suggested the far straight was quite wet.
Race 1: Hobbs Parker Open Maiden
1: Mr Ambassador 8: Golding Hop
Winner owned & ridden: Helen Gordon, trained: Charlotte Marshall
Mr Ambassador: Patiently ridden for the first circuit, he was always travelling in the comfort zone, he was ten lengths clear five from home and going away, eventually winning by a vast margin. Golding Hop: Set off quite fast, walloped the first and calmed down a bit, but was ridden to complete once the winner passed him. On the upside he jumped soundly when tired, considering his form in points so far was PF.
Frere Augusto: Took off as fast as the runner-up and blundered and unseated at the first fence he had jumped in public.
Marjeeb: Was never happy and was pulled up and dismounted before halfway, being led back by his rider.
Young Darnay: Jumped with a touch of hesitancy and was detached when pulled up at the 15th. Eurotinker: Another newcomer, he had two handlers in the paddock, and went round well enough for a lap and a bit, but was dropping away when he pulled up with Young Darnay.
Conclusion: A maiden won by a twelve year old, even one that has run the odd fair race, is not terribly encouraging, but Eurotinker might have some improvement in him on better going.
Race 2: Hallett & Co Confined
1: Valley Henry 2: Myson 3: Saddlers Cloth
Winner owned: R Gurney & M Tracey, trained: Ann Blaker, ridden: Phil York
Valley Henry: Hovered around a surprisingly long 4/6 in the betting, on his seasonal debut, but won without coming off of the bridle, despite lugging 12st 11lb round in the mud. An impressive effort in the circumstances.
Myson: Had been off for a year and a half, and after being nagged and harrassed by the third, he stuck at the task fairly well. He should make the grade as a pointer.
Saddlers Cloth: From a sedate pace, she got a bit tapped for toe four out, but forced Myson to work hard to repel her threats. But bear in mind her four runs this season were four more than her opponents had put together.
Heritage Castle: Has lost the completing habit, but hung in there until the sixth last, but quickly dropped out and was pulled up.
Conclusion: A belated start to the season but a good one for both Valley Henry and Myson, who should stay three miles unless a race is run at breakneck speed.
Race 3: Paddy Hughes Memorial SE Hunts Club Members Novice Riders
1: Indoux 2: Dr Mann 3: Gola Leader
Winner owned: Mrs JA Donegan, trained: Veronica Park, ridden: Claire Douglas
Indoux: What a funny horse he is. He has won in open company but this is just the sort of race he can choose to lose when in that sort of mood. Ironically, for such an awkward customer, he has smiled benignly on novice riders on occasions in the past, and today he accepted that if Claire Douglas would do things his way, he would provide her with a maiden victory.
Dr Mann: Was already beaten when he blundered at the last, but this was his most encouraging effort so far this season.
Gola Leader: Another who has won novice riders' races in the past, he was well beaten on his seasonal debut, on ground he usually appreciates.
Frontenac: Marginal favourite in the betting, he was never travelling with any ease, and tailed off fairly early, but at least completed. He is capable of better than this.
Kingsun: Was up with the leaders and under no particular pressure when he made a mistake and unseated at the 12th.
Conclusion: As Indoux appears to have take a shine to his pilot, further success in this level cannot be ruled out. Gola Leader might come on for the run.
Race 4: Hythe Bay Fish & Seafood Restaurant and Bar Men's Open
1: Danaeve 2: Honourable Spider
Winner owned & trained: Nigel Benstead, ridden: Phil York
Danaeve: Sprung an upset as Phil York refused to let the favourite open daylight between them. He nosed in front at the last, and Danaeve responded best to the effort from the saddle. This was his second open win of the season after a rocky first couple of races.
Honourable Spider: Opened as short as 1/10 in a place, but was mostly around 1/4 nearer the off. He gallops on deep ground, but in the past has not always jumped well from it. He went out to the right all the way round, and despite hampering Danaeve at the third last and second from home, could not summon any more on the run-in.
Our Samson: Dropped out quickly as they went out on the second lap and pulled up at the 11th. Conclusion: A fine effort from Danaeve, as the favourite has looked vulnerable in testing ground before, but this was the first horse to be able to exploit it.
Race 5: McCabe Ford Williams Ladies' Open
1: Nathos 2: Glory Trail
Winner owned: Mr & Mrs AC Kemp, trained & ridden: Heather Kemp
Nathos: Has looked a bit dodgy at times in the past, but he handled this cat and mouse game without any emergency arising, even though his rival, after conceding an early lead, was snapping at his heels mid race. The eventual margin opened out towards the end and success came fairly easily.
Glory Trail: Well into the veteran stage, he is not beyond winning a weird race here and there, but Nathos did not let things go his way this time.
Conclusion: A race slightly ripe for an upset that did not occur.
Race 6: Regency Marquees Intermediate
1: Glenbower Woods 2: Little Saltee
Winner owned: Dr C Hargreaves, trained: Di Grissell, ridden: Philip Hall
Glenbower Woods: Had a bit of a stamina question mark having won a short maiden (easily, but against the defeatist Iphar), so a very sedate first two miles helped. He led with a good jump at the last, but after going a length or two up, he seemed to stop. The first thought was stamina, but when Little Saltee was back alongside, he responded again and just clung on.
Little Saltee: Fought back bravely once headed, and just came out worst of two tired horses. Until fatigue cut in, he jumped notably well.
Dans Blarney: Kept tabs for a couple of miles, but was quickly out of contention and pulled up when it got serious.
Conclusion: Having supplied five of the 22 runners on the day, the Grissell family deserved no less than one win to take away, but the way it unfolded on the run-in left a bit of a question mark about the winner.