SUNDAY 13th APRIL 2003

by Simon McInnes

Further tinkering with the course layout has improved viewing further. Now only the paddock and bookies are inside the course, with all activity on the outside of the home straight. As a consequence, it is easily possible to find a point in the middle of the track where all fences are visible, and with a bit more walking all the low points of the undulations as well.
The official going was firm, despite watering, and that seemed to thin out
the healthy entries quite considerably, there were twenty-five runners in total on the day. However, the racing surface was green and even, and much worse conditions have been encountered.

Fynmores Hunt Race
Six went to post and they gradually split into pairs, of which only the
leading one finished. The prize was taken by Galeaway who predictably had too much toe for Commasarris over the last five fences. The pace was moderate, and Commasarris would have needed to force a much stronger one if his Achilles heel of searing lack of speed was going to be overcome. Jojo was making his seasonal reappearance, and decided as early as the third that he preferred the state of rest he had been enjoying.

Gaby Hardwicke Solictors Restricted Race
Only two runners, but having set off at a slow canter, they both were in
contention two out and Scotch Bob, with David Dunsdon on board, was quicker over the last couple of furlongs than Carlton Brae and Philip Hall. The runners-up look to have more stamina, and could easily turn the form around if in a bigger field. Connections of Carlton Brae must have realised that it was not their day when they lost the best turned out prize to a horse swathed in rugs. Even when the rugs came off were removed, Carlton Brae looked the obvious pick.
An interesting aside on the nature of bookmaking.
Most were offering winning margin and forecast bets to vary from the stagnant win market, but why bother (as one did) even bothering to price up the win at 1/2 and Evens? Especially as a more realistic 1/2 and 6/4 was available two boards away, and even 4/7 and 11/8 further down the line.

Calcutt Maclean Standen Men's Open
A comfortable success for Ballinure Boy, who looked a step ahead of his
three opponents on form, even allowing for the possible limitations of recent victims. He did not hit the front until three out, but was clear and in unflustered control by the next, giving Andrew Hickman a winning comeback from injury. In second place, Supreme Irony was no more than best of the rest, but he stuck to his task well considering that he was niggled on several occasions along the way. Pampered Gale was again lacklustre in third. Last was Brackenheath, who is experimenting with a new approach. Instead of thumping every fence along the way, he now prefers to jump soundly until about halfway but then give one (this time the twelfth) and earthshaking wallop. An interesting ride for Philip Hall to say the least.

Farm World Ladies' Open
With a small field and things allowed to go his way, outsider of three
Bitofamixup consented to put his best foot forward and ran away from Spring Gale in the latter stages. Storm Castle was not too far behind in third, but he was always jumping left and working to keep up with his rivals, and never gave supporters much cause for optimism. In a rare occurrence, Bitofamixup's win saw two full brothers triumph on the same card, following on from Galeaway's hunt race win. Backing up the point from the restricted, one bookmaker wasted his energy pricing up the race 1/2, evens and 5/1, when a typical show from other boards was 4/6, 6/4 and 6/1.

Powdermills Hotel and Orangery Restaurant Confined Race
This was a nightmare event from the betting point of view, as it was nigh on
impossible to have confidence in any of the six runners, any encouraging form figures have been acquired in races of dubious merit. It produced an exciting finish, as Gypsy Gerry, ridden by Zoe Lilly, kicked clear after three out and then held on in a desperate finish from rallying veteran Graphic Designer, whose mistake at the thirteenth may have made the difference in the result. The inconsistent Sean's Minstrel ran better than in his last race, but less zippily than in his earlier confined win, so who knows which Minstrel may turn up on any given occasion. Legal Storm repeated his effort of last week with a bad blunder that provoked an outstanding recovery from Tim Underwood. Unlike last week, there was no counter-attack from the horse, and they eventually pulled up. The bizarre incident of the day came when White Smoke unseated Richard Ross at the thirteenth in a manner that even forced the commentator to concede a chuckle. What appeared to happen was that the horse faltered as he approached the fence, rider tried to anticipate a refusal, horse then carried on, rider consequently fell off before the fence, which horse then jumped in exemplary fashion. White Smoke's recollection of events would be interesting.

Grants Cherry Brandy Open Maiden Race
The booking that caught the eye was Chris Gordon on serial non-completer
Going Primitive. At the age of twelve, he was not up for any improvement, so this must have a last throw of the dice, in that if the best jockey in the area cannot get him home in a very bad race, then he will never manage it. And the theory looked set to pay-off, as Going Primitive approached two out with a narrow lead but travelling better than anyone. Only for it all to go horribly wrong as he hit the deck with the race at his mercy. Tired and bruised, but no harm done. Advantage was taken by Eastern Point (refused last time), who has now joined the York team. Even if improving for the move, she will be hard pressed to win in restricted company. As a youngster that had shown some promise, Bob Nickel headed the market but had his limitations exposed in finishing third, just behind Forest Fortress, another youngster who seems to have some talent that is being sabotaged by extreme mental frailty.