THRILLS, SPILLS AND CONTROVERSY AT YSTRADOWEN
There were plenty of thrills, close finishes and controversy at the well attended Glamorgan Hunt Point-To-Point Steeplechases at Ystradowen in the Vale of Glamorgan last Saturday.
In the opening Glamorgan Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race,last year's winner ItchyMeI'mScratch(Tom David) failed by a neck to beat Miss Claire Sherriff's Fraction Man who had been backed from 5-1 to 7-4 favourite. However,the unlucky horse of the race was probably King Massini who was putting in a renewed challenge when unshipping Isabel Williams at the penultimate fence. Fraction Man, a seven-year-old chestnut gelding, is trained by Gibbs's father David who said, "He is a very naughty horse at home and only Bradley dare ride him."
The Seven-Year-Old And Over Open Maiden Race was divided on the day and after the first division the best turned out Padre Tito's rider Bobby Thomas rode into the place reserved for the winner and many racegoers thought that 22-year-old Bobby had chalked-up his first win. However, the judge had ruled that Edward Lean's well backed eight-year-old Essteepee had prevailed by a head. Essteepee's rider Charlie Price, who rides out for Tim Vaughan and who has made a name for himself in the world of Arabian horse racing, was not too sure that he had won either! "He kept trying to run out" said the promising nineteen-year-old who was chalking-up his first win between-the flags.
Ben Jones took the second division on the always prominent eight-year-old chesnut gelding Mount Prospex which won by two lengths from Classic Hit (Richard Patrick). The winner is owned by Karen Williams and Eddie McGuiness of Abergavenny.
Carl Price's eleven-year-old bay gelding Romeo Is Bleeding won the Glamorgan Hunt Club Mambers Conditions Race after Mary and Bill Evan's Superman De La Rue (James Bowen) had fallen at the last. "I think I had him beat" said Romeo Is Bleeding's rider, Conor Orr, aged 21, who works full time for Llancarfan National Hunt trainer Evan Williams. The 4-6 favourite for the race, Colorado Doc who had wandered off before the start, was ruled to have not come unders yet some racegoers were adamant that it had. However, one person down at the start told me, "Colorado Doc did not come under orders as he was no way near the start when the starter raised the flag."
The Timico Mixed Open Race saw another close and controversial finish with Ken Price's eight-year-old bay gelding War Path winning by a head from Roger Willcox's versatile PatrickTom Boru (Ben Jones) with the favourite Frelia (Bradley Gibbs) a further eight lengths away in third place. The connections of PatrickTom Boru thinking their horse had won posed for a 'winners photograph' but this was before it had been announced that War Path was the one that had caught the judge's eye. A delighted Lorna Brooke, who was having her first ride over the course, said, "I had him switched off throughout most of the race and he did it well." Lorna, aged 33, who has ridden eleven winners under rules and around 30 point-to-point winners, was full of praise for the "beautiful Ystradowen racecourse."
Nine of the 14 entries went to post for the Restricted Race and local rider Byron Moorcroft notched-up his 10th winner of the season on Keiron Price's seven-year-old brown gelding Ramble On. Handily placed throughout they finished five lengths ahead of Clive Banwell's Yeats Ace partned by Bradley Gibbs. Mr Price said that he will be looking for a right handed track for the horse's next appearance.
There was an exciting finish to the closing Four, Five And Six Year Olds Open Maiden Race over two-and-a-half miles in which the six-year-old old Ann Scott, under West Wales's Jodie Hughes, came from nowhere in the closing stages to score by half-a-length from the pacemaking January Don ridden by Richard Patrick. A further half-a-length away in third place was Milathlete (Wayne Maskill). Ann Scott is trained by hunt-racing stalwart Simon Jones who runs a pet cemetery near Bridgend. Jodie said, "I must have been about in fourth place jumping the last but she certainly ran on from then."
HISTORICAL NOTE: The Glamorgan Hunt held their first point-to-point on March 19 1890. There were two races one for maiden hunters,the property of subscribers to the Glamorgan and Lord Tredegar Hounds. The first was for horses not exceeding 15.2hh the minimum weight being 11st 7lb. In the second race the riders weighed out at 13st. The races were held on a Wednesday afternoon and the riders weighed out in the outbuildings of Mr Ralph Thurston Bassett's farm at Crossways near Cowbridge. Mr Bassett, who held the mastership of the Glamorgan Hounds, was a popular sportsman and was solely responsible for the existence of the Cowbridge Hunt Races that used to be held at Penllyn Castle. The course for the point-to-point races is said to have commenced at a point between Llandow and Stembridge. Crossing the Clemenston Brook, it took a direction northward, turning right and leaving Hilton Farm on the left, it was almost straight in line over the Pinklands, finishing at the Corrwgs. The course which was mostly grass, was a stiff one and the distance about four miles. Victory in the first race went to Herbert Sasfield Watson's Snitton who a month later landed a selling hunters' steeplechase at Cowbridge Races. There were twelve starters for the second race - there had been 14 in the first - which was won by Captain Morgan Lindsay's Brunette. Mr Herbert Sarsfield Watson, the son of Mr Jonas Watson, a well-known Cardiff businessman, was a popular rider at local meetings and on several occasions won the Glamorgan Hunt Cup at Cowbridge Steeplechases. The South Wales Daily News reporter did not seem entirely satisfield with the conditions of entry for these races. He wrote, "When the conditions of entry were framed, the limiting of the animals' height to 15.2 was done in order to give the smaller animals, of which there are so many in the hunt, a reasonable expectation of carrying off the trophy, but the intention failed, because weight was not allowed for inches, as it should have been." He went on to say, "The framing of these conditions did not allow a bona fide farmer to enter his horse in either races. Such a small courtesy would cost nothing and would cement many a friendship." Captain Morgan Lindsay, later as Colonel Lindsay, trained many winners from his mountainside training establishment at Ystrad Mynach and among those who rode for him were Fulke Walwyn, Evan Williams and Sir Harry Llewellyn.