MAY 2003
by Alison Morris

The phenomenon that is Evan Williams was back in full cry this weekend, and he followed up his Ystradowen treble with a four timer at the Banwen Miners meeting. It is an awesome concept that he is now firmly in the fray for the Welsh title despite having missed so many rides due to a virus at his yard and his own injuries. If he continues his current rate of success he will be back in contention for the national title in a few weeks!

A slightly smaller than average crowd had assembled in the sunshine for the two-horse member’s race, a field quickly depleted to one. Tim Vaughan and Noaff had things very much their own way, until the loose horse; who had obviously spotted the finish line, raced them after the last and gave Tim momentary brake failure.

The Confined race saw the first of Evans victories on Bright Beacon chased home by that good mare Poachers Paddy and Dai Jones. Evan was also responsible for the third horse, ridden by Tim Vaughan, his mothers Lypharita's Wish.

The Four Mile Mixed Open saw, at long last, just rewards for the gallant General Custer, it would have been cruel for him to be denied a victory in these races that he has contested so well over the last two seasons. Waders and the talented but reluctant No Fiddling filled the minor placings.

The Restricted race saw Evan quickly returning to the number one spot with Parisian Storm, who had Sohapara always held. By this stage the bookies were running scared and making everything Evan sat on odds on chances. Johnny’s Gone took the Intermediate giving Tim Vaughan a double with De Chelly and Charlotte Owen back in second.

The two maiden races were both split, giving us four more chances to make our fortunes(!). Carew Lad (Dai Jones), Thomas the Doubter (Sam Hughes), Mr Hickman (Evan Williams) and Runaway Ralph (James Diment) were the victors. Notable from this bunch was the six year old Mr Hickman who had never been on a racecourse before and cruised around the track to an easy victory. Running green over the final few he was allowed to run about by his jockey to measure his fences, another tribute to the skill of his pilot. Thomas the Doubter finally lost his maiden tag but the effort resulted in him breaking down and it will be some time before he is back on a racetrack.

The day’s events were marred by the tragic fall of  Bel-de-Moor, who was having what was to have been her final run. James Tudor was taken to Morriston hospital with a broken collarbone and it was later discovered that he had also broken his wrist in the incident. The one thing I cannot understand is why it took so long for the horse to be removed from the track. When this was done it was not done in the subtlest manner, with the Huntsman galloping down the course calling for the knacker wagon. Anyone who has watched racing between the flags or under rules will have known instantly that the mare’s injuries were serious from the way she fell and her actions afterwards. An RSPCA inspector was at the meeting following an inquest into the treatment of Push On last year. I don’t know if his attendance had anything to do with the delay but it is quite frankly not good for the sport to have this kind of sight right in front of the crowd. Under rules injured horses are treated with quickly and efficiently, and assessed with the minimum of delay. Following the what I feel is appalling treatment of Brad’s Boy on Sunday I am beginning to wonder whether vet’s as well as Stewards should attend Jockey Club courses to better prepare them for the injuries they may face.

A final postscript to this meeting is that once again a group of local boys, having spent the afternoon in the Beer tent, attacked the elderly gentleman on the gate. This year it took Steve Blackwell’s intervention to bring this to a halt. This is the second year it has happened and I hope that someone from the Hunt reads this and makes steps to ensure that it does not happen again. It should not be for a jockey with two suspected broken fingers to have to be involved in a brawl at the end of his day.