Radnor & West Herefordshire
REWARDING CARD AND CROWD AT COLD HARBOUR
Despite the prevailing drought, Cold Harbour clerk of the course, Alan Rogers and team worked miracles to provide ground that was officially 'good, good-to-firm in places'. A very healthy crowd enjoyed some excellent racing, which started with two enthusiastically-applauded pony races, the first of which was won by 14 year-old Holly Doyle, with the Champion family's marvellous veteran, Balfour Hill Song. Accomplished raider, Alex French piloted Fields of Gold clear to take the 8 furlong pony event with great polish.
Members of The Wye Friends Partnership who own Lord Alfred were out in force to greet him after a decisive victory in the Member's race. Trained by Caroline Griffiths at Sellack, the gelding was recently tubed when it was found that a previous wind operation had come adrift.
Helen Taylor's Sahara's Dream asserted authority over Gunnadoit (Rob Hodges) in the smallest race of the day, the Confined Hunts to give Sarah-Jayne Davies and Jeremy Mahot the first leg of a trainer/rider double. For Jeremy, it was a real landmark, for though he is reigning area champion, Cold Harbour has been the only Welsh Border course where he had not ridden a winner.
The Crudwell Cup Men's Open was the area Classic race, worth £700 to the winner, saw a scintillating finish with the Tudor's 13 year-old Minsgill Mans getting the verdict by a head from the useful Tastes Like More (Gillan Crow). This was the third time Minsgill Mans has won this four-miler, having taken the Crudwell Cup home to Wales previously in 2007 and '08.
Virginia Preuill gave an awesome performance with 'Phine Banks to take the Ladies Race, the partnership's fourth victory of the season. "He was just BRILLIANT!" 'Phine exulted, " He really wanted to be here! And Granny (Pat Tollit) was here to see him win." Patrick Hanly's handsome Carbon Emission (Rachel Reynolds) ran into second ahead of Upton Legend (Sarah-Jayne Davies).
Shobdon trainer, Steve Flook is having a painful time on crutches after fracturing his femur schooling a couple of months ago, but proved that he is still a force to be reckoned with when Brian Mould's Miss Tilly Oscar took advantage of her 14 ilbs weight allowance as a five year old mare to turbo-charge clear from the last fence with Rob Jarrett.
It was a rare privilege to find Surrey-based trainer/rider Phil York in this area, and he gave a superlative front-running performance on Julia Oakey's grey debutante, Lucasland, who powered away with the two and a half mile maiden race. "He's got plenty of oomph!" smiled Phil, "but he was a bit scared of the fences at first." The eye-catching five year-old is definitely one for the notebooks.
There was a rousing reception for the Open Maiden winner, Mr. Meister, the second leg of the Sarah-Jayne Davies/Jeremy Mahot double. Local stalwart, Percy Priday, who always prepares the fences on the Cold Harbour course owns a half share with the trainer, and is a popular figure.
"The horse is so laid-back, it's unbelievable –he's been asleep in the trailer all afternoon!" said Sarah-Jayne, who was given great credit for her efforts with the seven year-old.