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23rd January 2005
by Liam Hale

The ground on this very cold day was Good to Soft after lots of rain in the prevailing areas the following day. It was a bumper day with eight races and two competitive looking Ladies/Mens Open events.

The First race was the Hunt Members race which had five runners; three of these were within one point in the betting. SBS By Jove (Alex Charles Jones) trained by Linda Blackford had shown good form in 2002 and had finished second in his last race in 2004 and was just favourite on this evidence. The next two in the betting were Barton Rose (Ian Chanin), the evergreen fourteen year old looked well in the paddock and had won his last start and was bidding for a “home” win being ridden by one of the Huntmasters son (Mr R Chanin), Emali (W White) was next and was another to win his last appearance and looked well in the paddock.

Early on in the race Barton Rose was handy for the first circuit then dropped away leaving Raggy Jumper (C Dally), who had done a lot of jumping up and down in the paddock, in the lead where he stayed till five out where he fell when still going well. At this point SBS By Jove who had been on the inside throughout took up the running followed by Lucy Gardner on Mighty Mack. The fancied Emali was the first beaten and was shortly pulled up after this disappointing effort.
Coming to two out SBS By Jove had beaten off Mighty Mack but Barton Rose who was prominent and then faded was running on again and with a better jump at the last would’ve finished closer than the three lengths that split them at the line. This was a welcome winner for Linda Blackford and this improved form could bide well for supporters in the future.

The Second race was the restricted race for novice riders. Bessie Bunter (T.O’Brien) was sent off a warm favourite after its course and distance success last term and was best turned out to boot. Ryders Hill (Miss V Shaw) was second favourite and this well build gelding had one its only previous outing to date and was a probable improver at the age of six.
Musical Sleuth (Joshua Harris) was handy throughout and was only headed two out before sticking on well for fourth. Bessie Bunter was challenging at the ditch five out when she fell leaving the chasing All Eyez On Me (Mrs Z Hammond) and Slip The Net (M Green) who jumped the second last in the lead and was closely pursued by Forest Fortress (Jack O’Rourke) who was cutting down the lead and was narrowly ahead jumping the last and looked to have won the race but swerved left under Jack O’Rourke’s strong drive and lost out to the battling back Slip the Net who got back up by a head. It looked as though Forest Fortress had hung on and the second placed jockey did place an objection to the result but the Judges (L Morrish) had the final word and placed Slip The Net first, who had shown his first real form. Forest Fortress should be able to gain compensation in the coming weeks as the gelding prone to jumping errors jumped well on the whole and ran on well. It will be interesting to see how the Tory’s Slip The Net runs this season after showing little on the flat and in maidens before this.

The Ladies Open looked a competitive race on paper with the first five in the betting being priced at no more than six to one. Wahiba Sands (Lucy Bridges) was favourite and had already finished third behind Chasing The Bride this season for the Bridges family. The ex-Martin Pipe graded chase winner of over £250,000 was a warm order. There were some West Country favourites, who were all prominent in the betting, in the field including Hasten Bak (Lucy Gardner), the game chestnut Wink and Whisper (Emma Tory) and Phoenix Phyler (Charlotte Stucley) who had been transferred to the Scudamore family for this season and is a multiple winner round this course and distance and is normally ridden handily.
Another Interesting contender was that of Kali Des Obeaux (Emily Jones) a this former Martin Pipe charge was a welsh raider trained by the capable R Wilcox in Llangeinor.
From the off Phoenix Phyler took his customary position at the head of affairs pulling around five lengths clear but this closest pursuer was Wahiba Sands who wouldn’t let the front running gelding slip clear by too many lengths. After one circuit the field was well strung out and five out Wahiba Sands jumped to the front followed by Phoenix Phyler and the improving Kali Des Obeaux moving into third followed by Wink and Whisper. Four out and three out there were three in a line Kali Des Obeaux, the fighting back Phoenix Phyler, Wahiba Sands who were closely followed by the improving Wink and Whisper. Two out Kali Des Obeaux weakened along with the slightly unwilling Wahiba Sands which left Wink and Whisper and Phoenix Phyler together and Phoenix Phyler battled on well to win by half a length in a battling performance where the partnership looked beat early on the second circuit. This was a competitive race and many winners this season will come from this race. Kali Des Obeaux is a horse to note for Ladies races in Wales as after making up a lot of ground then weakening, but still showed enough ability on this occasion.

The start to the Mens Open was delayed by around half and hour due to the air ambulance being needed for a faller in the ladies race, lets hope all parties involved are ok.
This was another competitive looking Open with the West Country stalwart County Derry (Neil Harris), 3 rd in last seasons Cheltenham Foxhunters, going off favourite closely followed by Ollie Jackson’s Colquhoun (G Weatherly), whom the trainer had luckily won the ladies hunter chase at the Stratford Hunter chase meeting in 2004.
The race was run at a good clip with Mrs M Scudamore’s Greenwich (N Oliver) and Colquhoun pulling a few lengths away from the field leaving County Derry amongst the chasing group. The leaders seemed to go off to fast and five out County Derry had joined the leaders and went on to cruise to victory by eight lengths to Leon Garcia (T Bishop) who ran on well from out of the pack and a further five lengths back was Colquhoun. Leon Garcia ran well for his novice rider and this dual 2004 winner can win races this season but probably at a lower level than this. Colquhoun is still a capable performer and will win races this season when ridden differently. The winner, County Derry, is highly capable and it would be good to see him running well in the Foxhunters this season for his owner and trainer Guy Lever and Jeremy Scott.

The fifth race was the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate race and featured size runners, in the betting all runners had a feasible chance with the outsider being priced at around ten to one. Highway Oak (Michael Miller) was initially favourite but Toon Society (Neil Harris) was well supported and looked a picture in the paddock. Toon Society won his maiden last time out and seemed to be the improver in the field with age on his side. Bally Blue (Rilly Goschen) also looked well in the paddock and the steel grey has already ran this season when weakening three out at the Army at Larkhill. Hill Trail (Tigger Barnes) won the best-turned out prize and looked well. Hill Trail was handy alongside Highway Oak for most of the first two circuits with Bonny Rigg and Vicars Chalet seemingly struggling out the back. Hill Trail weakened around four out where coming to three out there was a line of three horses which were Highway Oak, Toon Society and the improving grey Bally Blue. Two out was the same as three jumped almost together but running down the hill Rilly Goschen and Bally Blue attempted to kick on stealing a couple of lengths turning the sharp bend before the last. Bally Blue jumped the last but Toon Society was fighting back under a determined Neil Harris and the distance at the line was half a length with another half back to Highway Oak, who also battled on well for pressure after being prominent throughout. This was a welcome winner for Rilly Goschen and she is currently second favourite behind Polly Gundry for the national ladies title. The fact Bally Blue had already ran this season probably gave him the edge in this contest but he won in determined style. Toon Society looks like a horse to be following in the next few weeks.

The First division of the Maiden contained eleven runners with Killy Beech (Alex Charles Jones, successful in the first race) being made favourite. He was closely followed in the betting by drifting Willoughby Flyer (Joe Price) who had shown good placed form in Welsh maidens finishing second on its last three runs. Other runners in this maiden were inexperienced and could improve on what they have previously shown.
Willoughby Flyer was handy throughout along with Warren Hill (D Turner) and when Price kicked on at the ditch, he went further clear of fewer rivals, as by this time there were only a few toiling rivals left. Harry Ace (T Vaughan), another Welsh raider, was improving and getting closer to Warren Hill who was only a few lengths off the leader. Coming to two out Willoughby Flyer kicked again and came home to beat Warren Hill by 15 lengths. Warren Hill was the only other finisher as Harrys Ace fell at the last when challenging his rival and was winded on the ground for a few minutes before being cheered by the crowd as he got back up.
Willoughby Flyer’s trainer R Butterworth must have been tired of seconditis with this horse and he really stamped his authority on this race. Harrys Ace showed ability in this race until coming down at the last and this horse, which has been placed in a bumper, and can win a race as long as he shows no ill affects of his fall.

The Second division of the Open maiden had eleven runners with ex rules horse Tsars Twist (Lucy Gardner) going off favourite. This horse that used to be trained by Lucy’s mum under rules showed enough ability to suggest that he can make a successful switch to the PTP field. Pink Lady (Rilly Goschen) trained by Mrs S Brown was bets turned out and was supported.
Tsars Twist made most of the running at a sedate pace followed by Barry Lydon (A Michael), Belles Last (T Vaughan) and Wendys Dynamo (M Munrowd). Lucy Gardener could never get away from her rivals and was swamped two out by Pink Lady and Belles Last. Going to the last Rilly Goschen and Pink lady kicked on two lengths and that was the final distance with another two lengths back to Tsars Twist. All the placed horses should be able to pickup maidens this year and Pink Lady gave Rilly Goschen a double for the day and helps her in her quest for the title.

The final race of the day, and by this time it was very cold, was the third division of the open maiden. Ten went to post with the well supported ex rules performed Minted (R Woollacott) being favourite. Minted always raced handily but had not shrugged off Minsgill Mans (T Vaughan) jumped two out although the rest were beaten leaving The Sycophant (Mrs S Brown) in third. Tim Vaughan rode a strong ride cutting up the inside of Minted to battle on bravely to win by a few lengths at the line, showing why he is one of the toughest jockeys on the Welsh circuit. This was the fastest maiden time of the day and provided a horse which is capable of mixing it at a higher level. This of been a good tonic for owner and trainer as Harrys Ace was running well when falling at the last in the previous race. This was a good performance from the horse who had been placed in a 3m Worcester hurdle and should be able to add to his tally this season.

A double for Rilly Goschen and the Welsh!!!

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