by Simon McInnes

As mentioned previously, recent changes to the course layout and siting of such items as the bouncy castle inside it have greatly improved the viewing, and thus the overall experience at Penshurst.

So, with the gods not to be denied their mockery of mere humans, they summoned up a chilly northerly or easterly wind (I had no compass), to catch put those anticipating similar conditions to the warm Saturday but twenty-four hours previous.

Despite this, there did seem a very healthy crowd, even though many arrived late. The course looked to have been watered, or patrolled by especially incontinent sheep, which meant that the fields stood up very well considering the dry spell, although the easier top layer was not very deep. It was enough to slow down some horses a great deal, although the alternative theory is that they may not have been terribly fast in the first place.

Leicester Arms Conditions Race
Dual course winner White Smoke did not improve for his recent debut as much as seemed likely, never out of contention in a small field but rarely travelling well enough to threaten success. A cracking finish was fought out between a pair of highly one-paced horses whose owners must adore the frequency with which they turn out and run their race, occasionally stumbling on a good chance of victory such as they found here. Glory came the way of Oxendale, piloted by Peter Bull, who was less slow on the run-in than Legal Storm after they jumped the last together. On the runner-up, Tim Underwood had made an excellent recovery after thumping the fourth, so was doing well to be there at all. After leading for two miles, Night Thyne weakened badly, and was ultimately very disappointing in the worst race he has tackled. An alarming tendency to lower himself to just below the ability of the opposition has developed.

FPD Savills South East Hunts Club Members, Novice and Veteran Riders
Another close finish, but this time Peter Bull was just pipped, despite conjuring a much-improved performance from Lovely Lynsey. As she looked in tip-top condition before hand, it was not totally unforeseeable. The mare did not, however, have the zip of Lively Lord, who provided jockey Gemma Marshall with her first winner. The effort is not to be underestimated as Lively Lord often gives the impression that he does not have his mind totally on the job in hand, today sporting a tongue strap and cheekpieces. Tooth Pick ran a similar race to his success at Godstone with the critical difference being that the pair in front did not grind to a halt, so he managed only third place and had a hard race in doing so. Tooth Pick did overhaul Commasarris, who ran his best race this season, and would not have appreciated the watering. He is not exactly poised to gain his first win of the century, but a place in the near future is not a forlorn hope.

Erith Haulage Restricted
The favourite won this, with Jack Of Kilcash outstaying Shamron in the lasthalf mile. His recent two runs have both held up well, so Jack Of Kilcash was not an unworthy favourite, but Shamron's occasional and poor efforts since 2001, plus six years without a win, made him a less obvious choice. They skipped away from Call The Tune and Scotch Bob in the last mile. A nasty incident occurred at the twelfth, where Ishma ran out through the wing and inflicted a nasty injury on Darren Page. Surprisingly, the field was still tightly packed at this stage, and with hindsight I may have been doing Ishma a disservice, as he was on the inside and could simply have run out of room, as for all his quirks, random violence is usually beyond his remit.

Polebrook Men's Open
The start was delayed whilst the medics went to work after the last race, but the field contained some wily veterans unlikely to be phased by the disruption. Struggles Glory headed the market, from Seod Rioga. The out-of-form Pampered Gale lined up for the very-much-in-form Joe Turner yard. Yet again the race remained in the balance until the last few yards, as Chris Gordon threw the kitchen sink at Seod Rioga, ony for David Robinson to get just enough out of Struggles Glory to win, although a very slow jump two out cost the runner-up the race. Pampered Gale plugged on after being niggled from the twelfth, and made a token effort, which was enough to hold third from Kenny Davis.

Saunders' Caravans Ladies' Open
The Turner team took revenge on the south-east for their defeat in the Men's race as Spring Gale made slightly hard work of a relatively easy opening. This was partially due to Julie Wickens giving Darakshan an inspired ride to post by far his best performance in a point so far. The form may be slightly below par as sixteen-year-old Strong Medicine was third, not given the hardest of times, and Prime Course was always struggling after he tried to go through the last ditch and not over it. Gemma Marshall's reward for her earlier win was the ride on the unanchorable Acuteangle. This time, Acuteangle settled at the back, and if repeating the calmer approach, she could turn up trumps in a little race.

Chapple Chase Open Maiden
The market leaders, Storm Rising and Threes Company, both had fallen twice coming into this race, but Penshurst does not boast the most fearsome obstacles and if they were going to deliver, a better combination of manageable fences and feeble opponents would be hard to find. There was plenty of money for Pistol Knight (previously, and now clearly erroneously, given a good write up in a previous report), obviously fitter for his seasonal reappearance, but when the pace quickened slightly seven from home, he was dropped out of contention with rare rapidity - or rather a crucial lack of it. Sister Ali made most of the running, but came to the end of her tether three out and was overtaken by Storm Rising and then Bavadier, in fierce but vain chase. It was still the closest he has come to opening his account. That order was the one they finished in, with Age Of The Moon the only other one of the ten to complete.