by Ian Protheroe

Overnight rain, combined with a good growth of grass left perfect jumping ground for the second meeting of the year at Redlands Farm. The crowd was only half of that for the Pentyrch Hunt meeting 3 weeks ago, which meant that there was a pleasant, unhurried atmosphere and no queue for the toilets! The meeting emphasised the return to form of local boy (?!) Evan Williams, whose treble meant that he had ridden 10 PTP winners in 7 days, in addition to a Hunter Chase winner at Chepstow in midweek. There was also a double for Tim Vaughan.

However, Evan was out of luck in the opening members race, when he had to pull up the favourite GLEN MIST with a circuit to go. The improving GLEN MIST appeared totally disinterested in racing, leaving the race between the remaining 2 runners, FLOCKMASTER and DEXTER GORDON, with the outsider of three FLOCKMASTER eventually going on to win easily under the ride of Nick Williams.

Six runners took part in the Intermediate race, which eventually provided Evan Williams with his first winner of the day on DETROIT DAVY, who won by a distance from STORM MAN. BOOKS WAY was backed into favouritism just before the off, but unshipped Dai Jones at the first fence. CHESNUT WOOD carried a penalty in this race rather than run in the confined, but was again disappointing, pulling up before taking the final fence. CHESNUT WOOD has yet to fulfil the promise shown with 3 wins last season (one on this course).

The confined saw the re-appearance of CREAM SUPREME after a 2 year absence from the racecourse. This small grey gelding, now 13 years old, had been a prolific winner for Evan Williams in the past, including 3 wins at this course, each time when brought with a late run. CREAM SUPREME was apparently backed in from 10/1 to 3/1, although the opening price didn’t last long, and was once again brought through to challenge after the second last fence, going on to win by 3 lengths from GOLD KRIEK and the odds on favourite NOAFF in third. The cheers rang out around the course for this popular win, although the bookmakers didn’t seem quite so pleased about it!

Evan Williams completed his hat-trick in the Mixed Open on the prolific winner SPARKLING SPRING, recording his third win of the season. Despite going off at 2/5 favourite, SPARKLING SPRING was made to work hard for the win by the front running course winner AKINA, who eventually finished third, just behind the fast finishing RED NECK, who must get into the winners enclosure soon. There was also a promising run in this race from the former Henrietta Knight trained CATFISH KEITH, who had slipped up on the flat here 3 weeks ago.

The restricted provided the biggest field of the day with 16 runners. Three recent maiden winners dominated the market, BEAUCHAMP OBSERVER and SHE’S MY BABY, who had both won their maidens here 3 weeks ago, and CARLING ELECT who had won at the Glamorgan a week earlier. Going on to the final circuit, it was the first two who began to dominate, with the impressive SHE’S MY BABY, ridden by Tim Vaughan, going on to win by 5 lengths from BEAUCHAMP OBSERVER with ALPINE FUGUE in third. I feel that the winner may yet have more scope for improvement, only being a 5 year old, with a winning time only 7 seconds slower than the winner of the Mixed Open. BEAUCHAMP OBSERVER did himself no favours by constantly trying to jump out to the left (as he did badly in his maiden win 3 weeks ago), and must have wasted a lot of energy fighting Evan Williams’ efforts to keep him straight. A left handed track must surely bring out the best in this horse.

Division 1 of the maiden was won by the debutante SILVER CASTLE, ridden by Lucy Rowsell. Despite looking a bit burly to me, many of SILVER CASTLE’s opponents managed to self-destruct during the race, notably the second favourite ARCTIUM, who deposited Geoff Barfoot-Saunt after coming under orders at the start, and bolted into the woods. The rest of the field subsequently departed, with ARCTIUM only returning from the woods 25 minutes later, having taken my money with her!

The second division also became something of a war of attrition, with the eventual winner DERRY BLUE giving Tim Vaughan a double on the day. Second was CATCH THE PRINTER, with KINGS KNIGHT in third. The second division of the maiden was 8 seconds faster than the first, although neither winner appeared to be particularly outstanding.

PS To all those PTP supporters in England! The third and final meeting at Bonvilston takes place on 1 June, organised by the Countryside Alliance. This course is only 10 minutes from junction 33 of the M4, so as the season will nearly be over by then, why not have a day trip to Wales?