EXCITING RACING AT YSTRAD TAF FECHAN RACES DESPITE A WALK-OVER
The feature race at the Ystrad Taf Fechan Point-To-Point Club Steeplechases at Ystradowen on Saturday (April 7th) was the John Lovell Memorial Mens Open Race over three miles and six furlongs. However, to the disappointment of the scarce crowd only one horse - or in this case a mare - was declared to run and this was David Gibbs and Glen Fortt's Frelia which gave Bradley Gibbs a career second walkover. The first he said had been on Ben's Folly over the same course three or four seasons earlier. John Lovell, who died in a motoring accident ten years to the day of the races, was a great supporter of point-to-point racing and back in 1995 had started a betting revolution when introducing a computerised betting system to Britain's racecourses. Bradley, who is making a bold bid for National Riders' Championship, also took the opening Robert Evans Memorial Ystrad Taf Fechan Members Conditions Race which was a match between the ten-year-old Benemeade, partnered by Cowbridge's Byron Moorcroft, and Bradley father's seven-year-old bay gelding Captain Kennit who, after leading on the first circuit, was caught three fences from home. However, by the time the last fence had been reached, Captain Kennit was back on terms and both horses jumped it together. In an exciting dash to the winning line, Captain Kennit got there first with half-a-length to spare over the odds-on favourite.
Just four of the sixteen entries entries faced the starter for the Restricted and Pembrokeshire's Jodie Hughes, who is riding better than ever, on the five-year-old bay gelding Boethius beat the pace-making odds-on favourite Charlie Breekie (Bradley Gibbs) by one and three quarter lengths after they had jumped the last together. "He flew the last two fences" said a delighted Jodie who had won on the Sherree Lean trained ex-Tim Vaughan Boethius at the earlier Glamorgan fixture. On that occasion Boethius had won in a time some seventeen seconds faster!
Robert Jones's seven-year-old bay mare Ann Scott, given a cracking ride by Jodie Hughes, gave Pyle trainer Sherrie Lean her first double when landing the Intermediate race race by three lengths from the odds-on Nuevo Molino (Bradley Gibbs) after being two lengths down at the last. Mr Jones, who lives in Porthcawl, was full of praise for local horse chiropractor Rachel Shilliber who he said had worked wonders to ease the mare's back problem.
Llancarfan's Isabel Williams, aged 20, did well to survive a second last fence blunder on the odds-on Aerlite Supreme in the three horse ladies' open race. However, Anna Lewis on her ten-year-old chestnut gelding Tiger Rag took full advantage of Aerlite Supreme's mistake to lead going into the final obstacle only to take a tumble leaving Aerlite Supreme to finish alone. Aerlite Supreme, a winner at the earlier Glamorgan meeting in a much faster time, is owned by Isabel's father, leading Welsh trainer Evan Williams, who was heard to say after being asked by a racegoer, "Would Aerlite Supreme had won anyway?" diplomatically and kindly replied, "Well, the rider on Tiger Rag was unfortunate."
The most impressive winner of the day was Mr J.T. Phillips's six-year-old French-bred bay gelding Kovera who, partnered by Charlie Price, and who rides out for Tim Vaughan, made all to win the Young Horse Maiden by twelve lengths from Sweet Lady with the favourite PersistantPrincess a further six lengths back in third place. A former inmate of Tim Vaughan's yard, Kovera gave his 20 year-old rider his third winning point-to-point ride. Charlie has also ridden 16 Arab horse racing winners and several more winners in New Zealand. It is interesting to note that all seven entries went to post.
The ten-year-old chestnut gelding TheBoss On TheHill gave owner Steve Hughes and trainer Claire Heelay both from Pontypridd their first winner when landing the Open Maiden Race by three lengths from the favourite Free Scorpion (Byron Moorcroft) who looked like winning but for almost unseating her rider at the last fence. The winning rider Craig Dowson, aged 30, who works for Gwent trainer Robert Stephens was chalking-up his third point-to-point win and he has also partnered a winner under Rules.