Official Ground: Good
11 went to post for Division 1 of the 5 year olds and over Open Maiden Race and the 9/4 favourite Sky Hole (Richard Bandey) willingly obliged. The winning jockey, who had arrived at the course by helicopter, kicked 15 lengths clear 4 fences from home and came home a comfortable 12 lengths in front of the debutant Quand Je Reve De Toi (Will Telfer). Following up on 2 previous placings at Larkhill the mare was a convincing winner, “Her half brother won a point to point with us and has now gone under rules and we hope that this mare might have a future under rules as well,” Explained winning trainer Geoffrey Deacon.
Division II went to the consistent Uncle Albert and provided Tom Ellis with the first leg of his double, and his 2nd winner of the weekend. Following up on a 3rd to the promising Betavix last time out the winner was well suited to the good ground and took up the lead 3 fences from home from the long time leader Medic (Will Telfer) to come home 6 lengths in front. “He’s been knocking on the door for a while and has just learnt to settle better in his races.” Said the jockey, who was standing in for the injured Henry Kinchen.
The second leg of Tom Ellis’s double came aboard Point Proven in The Confined Hunts race. Ridden confidently and always travelling well, the winner made headway to take 3rd at the 11th fence, 2nd 4 fences from home and caught the long time leader Pennytino (Dickie Barrett) after the second last. A Doncaster Sales purchase, “Happy” as he is known at home, made amends after an early fall in a Hunter Chase last time out. “We’re really pleased for the horse, Tom held him up today which suited him better as well.” Explained winning owner Toby Hunt who is enjoying his 6th winner on the bounce with his horses, all of which are in training with Jimmy Tarry.
Another jockey enjoying their 2nd win of the weekend was Angela Rucker aboard her own Petit Lord. Taking up the lead a circuit from home he out-jumped the second placed Bobbies Ryde (Gina Andrews) and came home a comfortable 15 length winner. Always consistent, the winner was finally able to break their string of 2nd’s. “To have 4 second’s was just getting clumsy,” Joked winning owner, Angela’s husband, William, “We’ve been running in such hot races we think we might as well go for the Ladies race at Stratford in May,” added Angela.
John Russell took the Mens equivalent aboard his father’s Galaxia. Never in any danger the 11/10 favourite jumped into the lead at the 8th fence, was 4 lengths clear by the 9th and despite idling slightly in front came home a comfortable 2 lengths ahead of Pangbourne (Nick Kent) in the fastest time of the day (6 minutes 15). “We bought him from Kim Bailey’s yard- he was a horse that had lost his way under rules but is so different now he’s at Gerald Bailey’s,” said the jockey who added, “We’ll see how he does this season but if things go well we’d like to try a Hunter Chase next season.”
Gerald Bailey enjoyed a training double, the second leg coming in the Intermediate with the promising Three Chords (Dickie Barratt). Unbeaten in his only 2 starts the 1/5 Favourite travelled strongly throughout to go 8 lengths clear 5 fences from home and maintain this advantage to come home 6 lengths clear from Blue Speedwell (Pete Mann) and Zaffman (Amanda Soar) who enjoyed a third on her first ride. “He’s bucking and squealing back at the lorry,” Said winning trainer, “So we will probably run him once more this season.”
Another strong front running display came from Massini Man in the Novice Riders Race. Making all, the winner was 10 lengths clear 5 fences from home and despite idling slightly in front came home ¾ lengths in front of Scott’s Mill (Faye Conway) under a strong drive from Jack Watson. An Ascot Sales purchase his seasonal debut had been delayed because of an injury. “It really suited him being able to get his own way up front,” Explained winning jockey Jack Watson.
A huge crowd turned out to see the second South Midlands meeting of the weekend and it provided a great days racing. One for the notebook is the Pauline Harkin trained Quand Je Reve De Toi who showed promise on her first run to finish second and should improve on this next time out.
In other news Shane O’Keefe was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw and Matt Smith suffered a broken collar-bone in Division I of the Open Maiden race and Stuart Morris suffered a heavy fall from Alflora Dora in Division II.