Sunday 7th May 2000
by Dom Bradshaw

There was a bumper crowd and plenty of runners too for this year’s Atherstone Meeting at Clifton On Dunsmore, kicking off with the Members race which went to the 1999 winner Bare Fisted (Hannah Phizacklea) who had too many guns for Playlord (Nick Docker). This was the first sign of form by the winner this season, but he does seem a Spring horse and may be able to pick up another small contest before the season is over. The runner up, who has been on the deck twice since winning his maiden, jumped well here and should be able to take a Restricted.
Catchphrase (Richard Armson) was back in third with the favourite Burntwood Melody, a first time ride for Nicola Hadfield-Tilley, back in fourth. The ground was probably a lot quicker than he prefers but I’m sure that Nicola loved the experience.

There was a close finish in the Confined with Who Is Equiname (Stuart Morris) getting the better Black Serene (Adrian Wintle), the pair coming home clear of Just Like Madge (Jimmy Tarry), who was never in it. The first two seemed to prefer the faster ground here and should be capable of troubling the judge again this season.
The favourite Red Rebel (Ben Pollock) looked in need of the run, stopping quickly when out of contention.

Barna Boy (Stuart Morris) set a strong pace in the Mens Open and was still in contention with Shanavogh (Richard Hunnisett) when coming down five out. This left the race at the mercy of Shanavogh who came home well clear of the remainder headed by Mister Smudge (Andy Martin) and Fawsley Manor (Jimmy Tarry). The winner looks a good type and is more than an able deputy to his illustrious stable mate Copper Thistle. Barna Boy is an exciting type, but just seems to get one of two of his fences wrong, making him not one to rely on.

The Ladies Open was a corking race and saw the prolific Don’t Tell The Wife open his account for the season under a patient ride from regular partner Gemma Hutchinson, with Fern Leader (Joanna Hughes), Pongo Waring (Tash McKim) and Rainbow Walk (Anna Burton) filling the minor positions. The winner really does come to his home at this time of year and still looks as good as ever at fourteen and I’m confident that he will score again before the end of the season.
The favourite, Lily The Lark (Heather Irving) was never going well and finished down the field. She seemed to hate this lively going and might just be over the top.

The first division of the Restricted produced another close finish with the verdict going to Fanion De Nourry (Lenny Hicks) over the well-backed Button Boy (Stuart Morris). The winner goes on all types of going and although he isn’t the fastest, he jumps and stays well, attributes that are essential in this game. The runner up, who was appearing for the first time since 1998, ran an absolute blinder and should be a good thing in a similar race.
Al Jawwal was back in third with the disappointing favourite Hessac (Ben Pollock) only fourth. He’ll improve for this.

The second division produced another close finish with the favourite Shoemaker getting the verdict over Gangster (Rowan Cope), completing a double for the Bill Warner\Stuart Morris combination. The winner was scoring in Restricted company at the first attempt and looks very smart, as does the runner up who will be scoring in this grade before too long. Third placed Blayney’s Privilege ran really well for a thirteen-year-old, especially as he looks to prefer more cut in the ground.

The Big Lad (G.J. Smith) got the better of a battle with Well I Never taking Division One of the Maiden in the fastest time of the day. Although the form looks moderate, the time was good so the first two should be watched closely next time. Fortune Hunter (Patrick Millington) was still in contention when blundering his chance away, eventually finishing a well-beaten third. This one would benefit from stronger handling and if gaining a new pilot, the tip should be taken. Fancy A Buck (Tim Lane) ran well for a long way and could be ok in time.

Division Two looked a weaker affair on paper and completed a treble for Stuart Morris aboard Steel My Song outstaying the diminutive Polly Live Wire (Patrick Millington) with Master Banker (John Pritchard) third and Light The Sky (James Turcan) fourth. The winner is well related, but appears to be fairly moderate and will have to step up if she is to be good enough for Restricteds. The runner up is a genuine little horse, but like her stablemate Fortune Hunter, she looks as though she would benefit from a quieter ride.

Julian Pritchard had only one ride, but made it a winner aboard favourite Mick Mackie, who took Division Three with the minimum of fuss, coming home clear of Mustang Molly, Moss Harvey and Out By Night.
The winner, an ex Irish pointer, looks a decent sort and should be capable of stepping up. The runner up and fourth both appear to be short runners but special attention should be paid to the third placed horse, debutante Moss Harvey, a five year old by Le Moss, who stayed on well at the finish. A reproduction of this form should see him take a maiden.

The final race, Division Four, went to Louise Allan on Round The Bend, outbattling the well backed Sparebit (Stuart Morris) with Ben Gilmore third and the disappointing favourite Proper Charlie only fourth.
The winner is a full brother to the useful Give It A Whirl and like him seems to appreciate quicker ground. He should take a Restricted in time.
Sparebit comes from the Bill Warner yard who are on fire at the moment. Like the winner she is well related, being a half sister to Oliver Himself and now that she seems to have got her act together, she should be scoring soon.
Proper Charlie seems to possess a fair modicum of ability and should eventually take a maiden.