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Archived Reviews


Monday 2nd May 2005
by Simon McInnes

This was my first visit to the course as it has generally had fixtures that clashed with Plumpton or rugby tour, and on the whole I was quite taken with it. The viewing, aided by a hillside overlooking the track is excellent, and conditions underfoot were not arid enough to deplete the fields badly (very sticky on the far side, a bit better on the home straight). Also the number board operators were extremely efficient at getting the runners and riders on display - something never to be underestimated. The downside is the age-old problem of having a fixed entry fee of £20 car, which makes it expensive if you have not been able to persuade a bunch of other nutters to join the expedition. The course has a pedestrian fee of £5 per head, but is so far from the nearest habitation - or even convenient parking spot - that the only people likely to take it up are Sir Rannulph Fiennes or any hardy asylum seeker that jumped off of a moving Eurostar as it slowed down approaching Ashford.

Giles Hopper Memorial Open Maiden
1: Blakes Road 2: Persian Beggar 3: Inis Eile
winner owned: HR Neaves, trained & ridden: Lisa Stock
The biggest field of the day made for quite a ding-dong finish between the first pair. Blakes Road has been pretty consistent in maidens in the area all year and deserved to get off the mark, having been towards the van most of the way. Newcomer Persian Beggar was the only danger in the home straight and to go down to one of the best maidens in the south-east by only a length or two on his first sight of a course is a very creditable effort and augurs well for 2006 - yes, we have reached that stage of the season so quickly. Inis Eile, who is becoming a little bit of an under achiever, was well behind them. Long distance visitor Starlight Striker had the potential to find the locals a bit below the standard of maiden he is used to, but could not handle the patchy bits on the lowest part of the course and weakened abruptly a mile out, eventually pulling up. He is probably better than this on his day.

Cluttons Confined
1: Stylish Dave 2: Lisnagar Hide
winner owned: Mrs J Plumptre, trained & ridden: Lisa Stock
A quick double for Lisa Stock, although this one proved rather easier than the last as the only two serious rivals both failed to get round. Stylish Dave had unseated at the first at Detling two days earlier, but remained revved up for this, and set a blistering pace for the conditions, far too strong for the only other finisher from a field of six. The rivals problems surely helped a great deal as Stylish Dave has tended to run too freely to get home in the past, and early on today looked likely to go to that usual script. Sliabh Foy whacked the first and Philip Hall did well to hang on, only for the horse to refuse to accept the response and hit the same fence even harder a lap later, which gave the pilot no chance of surviving. Balau was the last remaining danger, and four out it looked a big threat. He dropped away quickly and was beaten when hitting the third from home, falling at the last when very, very tired. As he had jumped better than at Catsfield up to this point, and handled very muddy conditions when a mere five-year-old at Detling, there is no obvious reason why he found this so much of a struggle. Having lain winded for a long time after the fall, it would not be a surprise to find in time that he was not 100% well in himself today.

Stylish Dave powers up the narrow run-in, basking in the glory and quite substantial encouragement from the crowd

Invicta Horseboxes Restricted
1: Honourable Spider 2: Mr Ambassador 3: Sword Fighter
winner owned: EMG Roberts, trained: Mrs S Bull, ridden: Peter Bull
After going on six from home it seemed that Honourable Spider was merely on a half-lap of honour(ability) from that point, to possibly complete a good first season for one of the stars for the future in the area. However, at the last five fences he jumped out to his right and the majestic cruise ended up looking a bit ugly, even though he still won by a distance. Despite the wobble, he remains a name to watch out for. Mr Ambassador made the running and dropped away on the far side, regaining second on the run in as Sword Fighter's stamina gave way. After looking useful when winning his maiden, Rockfield Clover has flopped badly in all other runs, and he was never travelling in this before pulling up.

Honourable Spider does not spare a single sympathetic glance for his toiling rivals. Make him your arachnid of choice in 2006

Redmire Stables Ladies Open
1: Millennium Way 2: Glory Trail 3: Royal Czarina
winner owned, trained & ridden: Caroline Taylor
However much money Caroline Taylor spent on Millennium Way after the 2004 season, she is probably reflecting that it was quite a successful purchase, as this was no less than his fifth win of the season. With only three rivals, and the Dufosee yard's raider again flopping, this was one of the easiest successes. Although Glory Trail plugged away stubbornly, he never really convinced that he could close the gap, as however much he found, Millennium Way matched it. Royal Czarina was on their heels six out but dropped away disappointingly quickly, and Rilly Goschen's sneaky dash east to nab a couple of wins in the battle for the Ladies' title had been foiled. Local perennial Glenmont seemed to be enjoying himself out in front for a lap, but decided that enough was enough at the eleventh, where he jumped very slowly. It did look as if Lisa Stock had lost an iron and could not jump the next, which comes up very, very quickly, but the horse had dropped a strong hint on what he thought was the best course of action, whatever the tack situation.

Poor zoom operation means that the Ladies Open is doomed to look like the Shetland Pony Grand National. Left to right, going over the first they are Millennium Way, Glory Trail, Royal Czarina and Glenmont

Russell Griggs Catering Mens Open
1: Tricky Trevor 2: Little Farmer 3: Scotch Bob
winner owned & trained: Mrs HJ Cobb, ridden: Philip York
The field of three was a but of a let down, and even at his occasional best Scotch Bob has never really been open class, but he got round and that was the object of the exercise. The race was uneventful on the whole, Tricky Trevor taking the lead six out and keeping on dourly despite the attentions of Little Farmer, who only faded between the last two obstacles.

Success is directly proportional to sustaining concentration even when the win is in the bag. Philip York & Tricky Trevor prove that particular pudding.

PPORA Club Members Novice Riders
1: Gladtoknowyou 2: Castle Prince 3: Dixon Varner
winner trained: Ms T Pitman, owned & ridden: David Maxwell
Just six lined up, but the novices served up the finish of the day, four horses in with every chance coming to the last fence. The animals took the run-in two by two, Gladtoknowyou outlasting Castle Prince, and Dixon Varner just heading Nicodemus for the minor spot. In fact, the places and distances at the last fence barely altered by the line. The winner had been consistent all year and has earned the win, whereas the runner-up has been winless for quite a while, although has made the frame in an Open this year. Age has got the better of Dixon Varner, and in his prime he would have skated this, but his enthusiasm at the front of affairs seems undiminished. Nicodemus was not especially fluent in his jumping (although never looking like he would fall) and possibly lost as much as he was beaten by as a result. He looks quite a slight horse, not the sort to easily shrug off jumping inconvenience.

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