by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall -

There were nine races on the card for the afternoon and if the weather stayed as it was on our arrival then all would have been well.  It didn’t!  The course was in fine fettle with my prediction of Good with Good to Soft patches (I didn’t measure how long the patches were but probably a few yards or metres or ‘ere to about there - will do!).  The very heavy and frequent showers took the shine off the racing and at this course with not very good viewing one got out and got wet very quickly in an attempt to see the runners at the far end of the course but it was impossible some of the time.

I was in the ‘borrowing position’ at the start so prudence was the key word.  Five runners in ‘the Members’ and an obvious favourite in THINKING TWICE (M Sweetland) one only had to pick the second horse which was a little difficult with best turned out SHOTLEY AGAIN to be ridden by his owner, Mr M Holmes and Mrs J McCullough & Mr J Salter’s GAMI (Miss A Goschen) about even in the form book.  I fortunately went for the correct one and landed ‘the winner without the favourite’ and also the forecast on the tote.  THINKING TWICE was a distance to the good of SHOTLEY AGAIN and GAMI was back in third place.  Miss Goschen deserved a medal for the way she remained in the saddle when it looked as though the deck was due to be bounced upon.  Now I am out of ‘borrowing position’ and looking forward to a prosperous afternoon. 

Twelve went to post in the confined and Mr Batterham’s RESCATOR (K Rixon) went off favourite but several others were fancied as well.  I chose Mrs Bishop’s SCARLET EMPEROR (Tigger Barnes) to take my money around safely (and quickly!) but it was not to be.  Mr Sprake’s JACKSON HILL (A Charles-Jones) was never far away from the lead throughout the race except on the way to the home straight; my horse challenged JACKSON HILL and did get to lead at one stage but could not stick the pace.  The House Family’s MOORLAND HIGHFLYER (V Price) took up the challenge but could not get to the leader either and at the last JACKSON HILL was well clear with MOORLAND HIGHFLYER 25 lengths back in second place and my involvement, SCARLET EMPEROR five lengths back in third place. 

A quick count of all loose change in case I need it and off to view the runners in the paddock for the mixed open.  Eight runners going to post and as usual the Shaw’s LANKRIDGE (N Wilmington) looks a picture and was made odds-on favourite to win this race.  Mrs Tory’s WILLIE MAKEIT (A Charles-Jones) also took some money and a few thought Mr Foot’s FRANKLINS BEST (N Mitchell) was in with a chance and invested in this gelding, which has reasonable form.  Before making the turn back to the starting area we lost THOMAS CROWN who deposited Mrs Wilkinson not too gently on the grass.  It must be a very painful experience when someone else’s horse bucks you off but when your own decides to do it – in public as well – making a holster for the twelve bore might come to mind as ones next project!  On completing a circuit it was WILLIE MAKEIT who had been in the van throughout, still setting the pace with The May’s TICKERTY’S GIFT (A Goschen) joining up and LANKRIDGE being handy with Mr Tizzard’s FORBIDDEN WATERS (D Edwards) also close up.  Four horses almost in line disappeared behind the tents for the final time.  Going down the back straight it was SPRING MARATHON who took over the lead with LANKRIDGE in second place and FRANKLINS BEST in third.  At the final obstacle it was FRANLINS BEST who led with LANKRIDGE in second and WILLIE MAKEIT in third place and so it was to the line.  A very good ride by Nick Mitchell to win by ten lengths and there were four lengths between second and third.  I did not invest in that race because of the odds about LANKRIDGE and now I am a very pleased non-punter.

The K J Pike & Sons Wincanton Racecourse West Country Hunter Chase Series Intermediate Race saw eight go to post with the favourite being Mrs Popham’s PORLOCK HILL (M Woodward) who carried my investment and unfortunately did not live up to recent form and my returns were nil.  The followers of the five to two horse came off best as The Bateman Family’s ROSS COTTAGE (G Barfoot-Saunt) which was also the best turned out, came home by a distance from Susie Woodhouse’s BEST BITTER (A Charles-Jones) who was eight lengths to the good of Mrs Atyeo’s SUBA LIN (D Luff).  While I am at it, I agree with Susie that the toilet facilities were completely inadequate for both sexes and too much time was spent viewing little blue boxes whilst racing was on!

Mrs Hutchinson’s RIMPTON BOY (N Williams) is a very capable horse but the odds of 4 to 6 ON are certainly not inviting, as the last two runs by this horse have been disappointing.  For this running of The CA Novice Riders Race I will be punting on a different horse and know he will be doing his best and probably come home first out of the nine runners.  (This is what I always whisper to myself when things are getting a little sticky!)  On it all goes on a horse that impressed me at Barbury Castle and at Badbury Rings.  A real tryer – Mrs H Goody’s FRANK BYRNE (S Hayes) at ten to one.  Mr E Evans & Mrs P Wilkins JOLITAN was expected to do well as was Mr & Mrs Roger’s NODDADANTE (Miss N Rogers) but I remained happy with my choice and took up a position where I could shake with excitement or cry my eyes out with grief preferably without being seen.  They’re Off!!  Mr Rawlins’s GERRY’S PRIDE (Miss D Bashton) led for at least the first circuit but then weakened.  NODDADANTE was in with a chance but blundered and unseated his rider when three out.  RIMPTON BOY had caught up now and was definitely in with a chance.  GLADIATORIAL was one paced from two out and could not match the others BUT – one FRANK BYRNE was doing the right thing.  He led from two out and stayed on up the straight to win by eight lengths from RIMPTON BOY with GLADIATORIAL a further 15 lengths back in third place.  It blew, it rained, it blew again but what does it matter I am off to see my ‘financial advisor’ and ask for my money back plus BONUSES!

There were now two divisions of the restricted race and it was rewarding again to see Tabitha Cave bring home SEA SPIRIT for Miss Kelley; this is really making up for not getting the result at Umberleigh two years ago and to beat Christian Williams on R Barber’s SPUDDLERS DREAM is quite a feat, albeit by only half a length.  Mrs Dowson;s WILLIAM LIONHEART (G Galpin) took division two with Lady Earle’s BREEZY BETSY (R Woollacott) chasing him home.  This little 6yo mare is really getting the hang of things and I shall follow her all the way to Doncaster and hopefully beyond!!

The Ted Cuming Memorial Cup was awarded to Mrs Perry’s NEARLY EASTER (J Snowden) for the fastest time of the two divisions of maiden races and I was more than happy about that as for reasons not known to me now, I invested quite heavily on this winner and with a price of eight to one my B & B for next weekend, albeit three days, is now covered and my porridge will go down rather sweetly knowing that a bookie paid for it.  The last division was won by none other than Mr Snowden’s WITHYCOMBE who the form guide pointed out would be best watched on this occasion. Not quite true!  He was the only horse out of the thirteen who agreed with his jockey to jump the fences and run a little when there were no obstacles about and to cross the line irrespective of whatever the others do!  Mr Snowden was seen to look over his shoulders and then it could be heard that he was reciting that very old nursery rhyme – ALL FALL DOWN!  He went on to finish alone at a price of 20 to 1.  The tote paid out about 33 to 1 for a win.  I enquired as to what happens to the ‘Tote Forecast’ bets as there was no forecast and no one had WITHYCOMBE down for a forecast!  Where did the money go?  I would like someone to tell me!

Long weekend next weekend, full of good P to P’ing but before we close may I and I’m sure, on behalf of all supporters, wish those that have come unstuck recently, get repaired as soon as possible as we miss you – Ashley, Ben, Polly and any others that might be a bit stiff at the moment – in their joints!!  Flete Park/Holnicote, Barbury Castle and High Bickington here we come and see you all there.  Fred & Ruth