Berks & Bucks Draghounds
Official Ground: Good (Jockeys reported ground riding on the fast side of good)
Blessed with an uncharacteristically sunny bank holiday Sunday the crowds turned out in their masses to see the last meeting of the season at Kingston Blount.
Racing opened with an eventful match in the Members. Duchamp (Emily MacMahon) had just asserted 5 fences from home before putting the breaks on and allowing Even Homer Nods (Sarah Gorman – having her first ride) to come sailing past. Favourite backers did not rip up their tickets just yet though as Duchamp quickly got going again and was within 15 lengths of the leader when Sarah Gorman pulled up to retrieve her stirrups after a mistake at the third last. Duchamp cantered home to a comfortable and eventually unchallenged 25 length win under 13 stone, “It’s the greatest weight carrying performance since Arkle!” Joked winning trainer Geoff Deacon in reference to the winner’s 10 lb penalty.
The 2m 5f maiden went to Cheney Manor (Nico de Boinville) who quickened convincingly 3 out to come home a comfortable 25 lengths in front of Showman (Pete Mann) and Solana (Henry Kinchen). “He’s a big 17hh baby really, he missed the start last time but Nico jumped him off handy today and the good ground helped him too.” Explained winning owner Ken Knox.
The locally trained Cristera took the Open Maiden under Hannah Watson. The homebred mare made amends after her unlucky run at Whitfield last time out when parting company three from home when looking the winner. Always handy the winner tracked the leaders at the 13th fence and quickened convincingly 3 fences from home to see off the challenge of Free From Magee (Johnny Bailey) and Mayo Rock (David Turner). “She’s lightly raced and has had her problems so it’s a well deserved win for her.” Explained owner Martin Redman.
The Restricted provided the first leg of an Alan Hill training double and took John Mathias one winner closer to Richard Woollacott in the chase for the National title. Bynack Mhor, wearing first time cheek pieces, kicked 6 lengths clear after the 14th and was an easy 25 lengths winner ahead of Oujamaflip (Pete Mann). “He’s travelled a lot better today with cheek pieces, I think I might lose him to Summer racing this year.” Said Alan Hill.
The second leg of the Hill trained double came in the Men’s Open from Bon Accord under a strong ride from James Tudor, Always in the first two Tudor quickened and slowed the pace before eventually kicking clear 5 fences from home into an unassailable lead from odds on favourite Whizzar (Richard Woollacott). “His blood was wrong after Warwick but he’s back to his best now!” Said Hill.
Polly Gundry took the Ladies Open on Dr Cerullo to seemingly secure her National title. In the fastest time of the day, and just 3 seconds off the course record, the even money favourite Fruitfull Citizen (Lucy Jones) set a fierce pace in an attempt to make all. The winner was produced under a well timed ride to catch the long time leader going to the last and get up on the line to win by a head in 6 minutes 6 seconds with Terramarique (Camilla Henderson) a further 8 lengths back in third. “We went to Bratton Down yesterday and he’d probably have had an easier race, but we thought he’d get better ground here today. I’m so pleased for the owners, they’ve been so patient with me – I’ve been clucking around him for ages at home!” Explained Polly Gundry.
A great day’s racing and the number of runners a true testament to the condition of the course. The ride of the day came from James Tudor aboard Bon Accord who dictated the race from flag fall and provided a great tactical display.