by Richard Mordan

The early spring sunshine that had warmed the early part of the bank holiday weekend had long since disappeared from West Wales by Monday morning but the threat of patchy rain did not dampen the spirits of the Easter racegoers keen to egg on their selections. 

The course at Lydstep is a rural delight. Punters can watch the horses parade around the paddock against a stunning background of Carmarthen Bay and Caldey Island before turning 180 degrees to watch them race beneath a backdrop of lush, rolling green countryside.

The forecast rain arrived shortly before the first race, the four runner members, ensuring testing going and plenty of work for the tractor drivers in the car parks later in the day. The small field were closely grouped on the first circuit but second time round it quickly developed into a duel between the two market leaders De Chelley and Longstone Boy, and it was the latter who was first past the post under Christian Williams to justify his odds-on price with Secret Can’t Say a well beaten third and Celtic Friend completing in his own time.

There was drama in the 2 ˝ mile open maiden when Bill Haze ran out 2 out on the home turn when holding what would have surely proved a winning lead. This enabled the grey Candlestone Castle, a 6 year old having his first run and partnered by Nick Williams, to come home 12l clear of Books Way in a time of 5min. 31sec. with the favourite Brombil Lady, another grey, collecting the minor honours.

In the Ladies’ Open, favourite backers quickly knew their fate when River Lossie unseated Miss A Meakins and muddied the yellow and purple silks of Chris Brasher in the early stages. In a rousing finish, Young Manny and Bridget Lewis prevailed by a length over Hurdante in a time of 6min. 46 sec. with A Sip of Brandy back in third.

There was a field of fifteen for the mares only open maiden, which quickly became fourteen when Spartans Dina and Charlotte Williams parted company at the first. As they turned for home another thrilling finish looked in prospect but at the second last a combination of Danny’s Roision’s jumping and the forces of gravity left Nick Williams on the ground and Poachers Paddy and Gareth Perkins with a commanding lead. They went on to clear the last fence safely and won comfortably from Daisy’s Choice and Paul Sheldrake. Pryvate Time added the third place prize money to his earlier best turned out award whilst fourth place went to the previously unraced Dai Brace 5 year old Second Tenor ridden by Christian Williams.

Eight went to post for the Mens Open in a race that developed in to a battle royal between the Williams’ brothers and it was Christian who prevailed on Never in Debt over Nick on the odds-on Touch ‘n’ Pass to complete a double on the day. The winning margin of 10 lengths was possibly a little flattering as they had raced neck and neck for much of the second circuit and Touch ‘n’ Pass was eased right down over the final few yards once his jockey had accepted the inevitability of second place. The winners’ time was 6min. 33 sec. and only the two finished.

The time, you will note, was 13 seconds quicker than in the Ladies Open. At a recent meeting I attended in the South East, the course commentator suggested that the Ladies Open would be the quickest time of the day as the horses were generally carrying a stone less than in the other races. There, as with here, that proved not to be the case. Does this mean that the horses in the ladies open are carrying the same weight as in the other races and it’s just that the ladies are saying it’s a stone less? Anyway, I digress.

The first division of the horses & geldings only maiden attracted a field of five and there was another odds-on favourite in the shape of the 6-year-old Nat Gold ridden by Dai Jones. Once again the money of those backing odds-on, (were they All Fools?), stayed in the bookies satchels as he pulled up before the end of the first circuit having never travelled well. This left the race at the mercy of the second favourite Grizzly Golfwear. Content to hack along behind early pacesetters Skimabit and Romany Baan for a lap and a half he quickly scooted clear when Mark Lewis pressed the accelerator and came home in 6min. 50sec. a distance clear of the only other finisher the Henbit progeny Skimabit. Being a local horse, Grizzly Golfwear proved a very popular winner and received a tumultuous reception into the winners’ enclosure.

The second division attracted a slightly larger field, 8, and was won by Alpine Fugue and Miss S Lewis. The minor placings went to Cracker Ticket (James Tudor) and Roman Governer (H.Evans).

The afternoons entertainment concluded with the eight race, the restricted which was won by Dai Jones on Torus Star, a bay gelding described in the race card as aged (I know how he feels) from James Tudor earning another minor placing on Mecca Prince and Black Dan.