by Lee & Myles McNulty

The Dai Williams trained Primaticcio was the star of the show at Stratfordís Intrum Justitia sponsored meeting taking the feature £25,000 added-44th Running Of The Intrum Justitia Cup on a sun baked Saturday afternoon. The seven-year-old Priolo gelding trained by Sir Mark Prescott earlier in his career, had previously won two staying handicaps on the flat at three and finished a respectable fourth in a 2m1f novice hurdle. Pulled up in two point-to-points in 2001 for Viv Hughes & Lisa Llewellyn he blossomed for them this term resulting in hunter chase successes at Wincanton and Cheltenham prior to being purchased by a syndicate fronted by Lambournís Dai Williams. The gelding set out to repay some of his £30,000 price tag by winning his third hunter chase of the season at Folkestone for his new trainer and his Stratford success was his fourth victory on the bounce.

Christian Williams (no relation to the trainer) took up the running after the second fence and soon had the field stretched out with several of the fancied runners unable to go the pace and very few were seen with a chance. Last seasonís winner Look In The Mirror didnít jump well and deposited Jelly Nolan in front of the stands on the second circuit. Sulphur Springs, the well supported favourite was giving out distress signals a long way out and the Cheltenham Foxhunters winner Last Option who had chased the winner on the final circuit was treading water with three to jump. It was then that Jabiru and Richard Woollacott threw down a challenge and looked a big threat but Primaticcio responded well to his riderís urgings and saw out every inch of the 3m4f test to maintain a three-length verdict. Primaticcio was the subject of some handy bets as 10/1 was seen in places early on and his starting price was only 6/1. Unfortunately the stewards gave Christian a three-day whip ban.

Ozzie Jones piloted by Mrs Lucy Rowsell took The Mission Foods Ladies' Hunters' Chase (3m) later on the same card. The partnership got into a struggle with Noyan ridden by Captain Lucy Horner and was half-a-length down at the last but Ozzie Jones nosed ahead close home when Noyanís rider stopped riding for a stride or two to change her whip hand. This proved very costly as the stewards thought she should have done better and handed her a ten-day ban.

Montys Tag trained by Simon Andrews near Luton and ridden by the soon-to-turn-pro James Diment took the feature race the previous evening, The Weatherbys Champion Novices Hunters' Chase (for The John Corbet Cup) over 3m 4f.
The winner was left well clear when his nearest rivals Bucks View and Team Captain both departed at the penultimate fence but with no company the gelding began to run on the spot on the run-in. James was made to work hard to repel the renewed challenges of Little Brown Bear and the Irish raider Viaduct to hold on by a rapidly diminishing length.

The Marsh Private Clients/TBA Mares National Championship Hunters' Chase Final (3m) was also held earlier on the Friday evening and this went to the favourite Glacial Trial (better known as Gladys) trained in Shropshire by Paul Jones and ridden by Gary Hamner. Hamnerís job was made a little easier when Raise A Gale fell at the last fence when alongside and the pair coasted home to record a nine-length success.

Stratford Racecourse should be complemented for the excellent facilities they provided for cooling down the horses, some of which finished dehydrated due to the extreme temperatures. Several hose-pipes were made readily available in the unsaddling enclosures and a horse shower was made plenty use of near the pre-parade ring.