Glamorgan at ST HILARY
Saturday 15th April 2000
by Ian Protheroe
It rained all morning at my Barry home, which did not fill me with confidence about the Glamorgan Hunt Point-to-Point taking place at St. Hilary just 10 miles away. At 1 oclock I was convinced that I would be eating my sandwiches in front of Channel 4 Racing! However, half way to the course the roads were dry and they obviously hadnt had any rain all morning, and so it was off to the races!
Until the racing started, it wasnt apparent just how soft the going was on the course. The spectator areas at this course are at the top of a hill, with the racing taking place in the valley below. The main problem was a field of spring corn on the back straight, where the going was very deep. After the second race (the confined), the two fences in this field were omitted for the rest of the afternoon, leaving a total of 15 fences in all.
The conditions were therefore very similar to those at the Monmouthshire meeting at Llanvapley 3 weeks ago, where a similar field of corn caused similar problems. The form at that meeting turned out to be an important pointer for the day's racing, with 5 horses that performed well at that meeting doing so again. (KINNEFAD KING, VIARDOT, SAFFRON MOSS, GYPSY HAZE and LILLIES BUTTLER).
The Hunt race to open the meeting was contested by just 3 runners, with AFRICAN WARRIOR providing Christian Williams with the first half of a double. The mare easily accounted for the only other finisher CREDON, despite being a much better horse on firmer ground.
The Confined produced perhaps the best race of the day. KINNEFAD KING, successful at Llanvapley went off the 4/6 odds on favourite, but was already beaten by FLUTTERBUD when unseating Christian Williams at the last. Flutterbud, although a soft ground specialist, is a particularly infuriating horse who has been let down by bad jumping in the past, and who now has form figures of 1FP-FUP1, which show that if you can get her to complete she is likely to win. Flutterbud gave Jamie Jukes the first half of a double, and won easily from THE RURAL DEAN, who seemed to handle the difficult conditions fairly well.
The Ladies Open was only contested by 4 runners, with VIARDOT giving a second winning ride for schoolgirl Gemma Roberts. This was a repeat of their victory at Llanvapley, but despite being odds on favourite was given a close run by STORM MAN ridden by Charlotte Williams, who was in contention until making a mistake at the second last fence. Gemma Roberts only weighs 6and1/2 stone, and the size of the saddle and weight cloth means that she has to get someone else to carry it for her to and from the weighing room!
The Mens Open was won by SAFFRON MOSS, another soft ground specialist, ridden by Jamie Jukes. Saffron Moss was second in the Mens Open at Llanvapley to NO FIDDLING, which subsequently won the Dunraven Windows Hunter Chase final at Chepstow last Wednesday, and so appears to be in good form at the moment. SILVERFORT LAD finished second, with 16 year old local favourite SUN OF CHANCE running on to snatch third, although a distance behind the first two.
Only 2 horses finished out of 11 starters in the restricted, which was probably a reflection of the way that the course was cutting up in some places. The favourite DUNSFOLD DAZZLER eventually won comfortably from GREAT HAYES POMMARD. By this stage, a soft patch had become apparent approaching the second last fence, and NOT FOR PROFIT was another horse which ran well until being pulled up there. JULIES JOY was another which was patiently ridden and pulled up when in a distant third place just before the last. Great Hayes Pommard has run well at a couple of meetings recently and will surely win a restricted somewhere soon.
Perhaps the most impressive winner of the day in the prevailing conditions was GYPSY HAZE in the 5,6 and 7 year old maiden. The 5 year old mare looked completely at home on the surface to account for LILLIES BUTTLER. It is perhaps important to note that both of these horses had completed their maidens at Llanvapley, when very few others managed to do so. The weight for age allowance meant that the winner was only carrying 11st 2lb, which must also have helped in the circumstances.
The 8 year old and over maiden was won by Christian Williams on BANNAGH BEG, who held off the fairly hot favourite MIKES DREAM. A further horse to note here was the third LOUGH NEAGH, who finished well in the difficult conditions.
Despite the unusual conditions, 5 favourites out of 7 won. It is to be hoped that circumstances stay in the punters favour next week at the Pentyrch meeting at Bonvilston. The highlight of this meeting is the Welsh Point-to point "Grand National" over 4 miles. It is my closest meeting, only 7 miles from my house in Barry. If you are coming from away, the course is on the A48, about 8 miles West of the centre of Cardiff.