Going - Good

by John Bulman

The College Valley held a very successful meeting with large fields and very open, competitive racing. The going was good and the weather was mainly fine with a few drizzly showers.

A seven race card got under way at 12:00 midday with the Confined race. 10 horses went to post with last years four time winner Dun Victory made favourite. Former Nigel Twiston Davies trained Spring Double set off in front however and despite the efforts of the leading fancies, they never quite got to him and he stayed on resolutely under Toby Mounsey-Heysham to beat Dun Victory (Tom Oates) with Johnny’s Gone (Charlie Shirley-Bevan) back in third. Dream Of  My Life had been a winner here on the opening day of the season but found this a lot tougher. Boulta was one paced but ran respectably while Wensley Blue must be capable of better once he sorts his jumping out. Starbuck was once again well beaten but he was a different horse in the spring last season and connections will be hoping a bit of sunshine might have the same results again. Mozielaw stays all day but is one paced and will struggle to score in this grade unless the ground is very testing.

14 went to post for the PPORA members race and it was Dean Deifer (Ran Morgan) and Dun Rose (Tom Oates) who cut out the early pace. The rest were all left toiling and when Dean Deifer weakened turning to come up the hill into the home straight Dun Rose galloped on to beat Emperors Magic (Owner ridden) who stayed on strongly from 4 out. Emperors Magic looked to have every chance jumping the last as Dun Rose tired. Tom Oates was the difference though as he galvanised Dun Rose after the last to win a shade cosily. It might have been a different result with a stronger jockey on board the runner up. Noble Hymn was ridden right out the back by Clive Mulhall and he stayed on from another county to take a never nearer third. Briery Hill was fairly prominent under Tommy Morrison and stayed on again to take 4th – his best form for a long while.

Alittlebitopower (Clive Storey) was the 6/4 favourite for the Restricted and he set off at a good clip, jumping soundly from the front. He never quite shook off the main protagonists however and when he clouted 4 out, Dumadic and Nigel Tutty took up the running. Dumadic had won here last season on his pointing debut and he galloped on far too strongly for the opposition on this occasion. Hallrule, a winner here on the opening day of the Northern season, stayed on from midfield to take a never dangerous second, while Timberley and Alitllebitopower fought over third and fourth. Be A Better Boy was disappointing for the Walton stable (as was a later runner) but may be capable of better. Alittlebitopower just seems to do too much in front as he was caught close home last time as well. Different tactics might be needed for him to fulfill his undoubted potential.

The ladies race was a disappointing 4 runner affair with Dere Street made an odds on favourite. He was ridden off the pace but was unable to quicken to catch the front pair of Harden Glen (Jenny Riding) and Donnegale (Jo Foster). It was Harden Glen who prevailed to earn a well deserved win for his determined rider. Harden Glen seems to turn out week in week out and this is a reward for perseverance as much as anything else. After stating how I thought Rose Davidson was improving as a jockey last week I have to say that I wasn’t terribly impressed by her ride on Dere Street today, letting the leaders slip 5 lengths clear turning for home and failing to catch them on the run in.

The Men’s Open was more competitive and the winner was Just Barney Boy who had run with a lot of promise on his seasonal debut at Alnwick last time out. He was a winning first ride for his owner Mr A Waugh and he was basically a steering job as it turned out. Just Barney Boy was always prominent and was delivered with the assurance of a seasoned “professional” amateur to tackle Red Gauntlet (Kevin Anderson) over the last couple of fences. Just Barney Boy looks progressive and he could make the step up to Hunter Chases in time. Last seasons “Heart Of All England” winner Kilcaskin Gold stayed on from the rear under Alistair Findlay to take third but there was only ever two horses seriously involved in the race.

The first division of the maiden attracted 17 runners and they were taken along at a good pace by last weeks Witton Castle faller Kindle A Flame (6/4 favourite ridden by Guy Brewer) and Seasmith from the Shirley-Bevan yard. These two looked to have the rest in trouble but those on the market leaders had reckoned without Doreen Calder’s Flying Past who came with a well timed run under Ran Morgan to win eased down, going away. It may have been a case of the leaders stopping in front but Flying Past came from out of the clouds and made up a lot of ground very quickly in the style of a good horse. He was unraced until today and as an 8 year old may not have a lot of progression in him except for experience but he is very well bred (out of the useful mare Eye Valley – herself a half sister to the fantastic Flying Ace) and it could be a return to the good old days for the Calder family who were for many years a force to be reckoned with in the North.
Kindle A Flame was exhausted as was Sesmith when they fell independently at the last allowing Pure Steel (Clive Storey) to finish a promising second while Jackoffalltrades ran reasonably well to be a fortunate third and will be better for the experience. I’m Willies Girl was travelling well when coming down just after ˝ way while Posh Stick (Jimmy Walton – 4ow!) was given a very gentle introduction to point to pointing  and will be better when she gains more experience (probably by around the time of the Border point to point!)

The Second division of the maiden was an open looking contest with newcomer Comfortably Numb from the James Delahooke stable made a short priced favourite. Other main protagonists in the betting included Witton Castle runner up Iron Trooper, Little John – a runner up here last time out and Red Tyrant who has been slightly disappointing since dropping down to points after showing ability on the course.
Again the pace was good and the leaders were Comfortably Numb and Try Me And See who had run well in the Championship bumper at Cheltenham in a previous lifetime. Now a 10 year old he made the drop to points and was very warm in the paddock. Turning for home the pace seemed to take its toll on Comfortably Numb who dropped away. It takes a very good 5 year old to win round Alnwick this early in the season – the only one I can remember is Royal Corrouge (enough said). Many have tried, most have failed. Comfortably Numb will win races in time. This thought went to Andrew Richardson who brought Little John (yes, I backed him!) with (another) well timed run from off the pace to sit cruising in behind two out. He jumped the last well and the result was never in any doubt once Andrew asked him to go about his business and he won going away at a generous starting price of 5/1. Try Me And See ran a very good race in second and will be capable of winning in time. Iron Trooper stayed on from the rear when the leaders tired but can win when ridden more prominently.

All in all a great days racing with competitive fields and fairly open betting – not a favourite won if I recall correctly. The highlights for me were Just Barney Boy who could be very useful if he continues to progress, Flying Past – it rolled back the years to see the Calder colours rattling home in front. As well as the rides of Andrew Richardson and Ran Morgan in winning from well off the pace on Flying Past and Little John. 

The next meeting is back at Kelso next Sunday, first race is scheduled for 12:30.