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27th February 2005
by Liam Hale

It was a cold windy day in South Wales and with heavy overnight frost the meeting did well to take place. Two fences in the straight were omitted initially for the first two races then for the entire card due to frost.

Only two out of the five runners finished the hunt members race but it turned into a good battle down the straight between Alpine Fugue (Miss Sarah Lewis) and Blakeney Hill (Joe Price). Alpine Fugue kicked ahead on the final circuit until being given a breather in the straight before running on to collar Blakeney Hill (FAV) at the last. The 2002 scorer Alpine Fugue prevailed by three lengths at the line.

The restricted race attracted seventeen runners with many looking to have a chance on paper. Recent scorer To The Top (James Tudor) made gradual progress throughout the race and took it up two out from the front-runner, Oneofthemongoes (Tim Vaughan). Who’s Eddie (M Harris) under a driving ride joined To The Top at the last and ran on well to score. Oneofthemongoes ran well for a long way and showed his first worthwhile form and should be considered in a maiden. The first two look like they are progressing well and will be worth watching in the future.

The Mens Open saw the prominent throughout Lough Ennel (R Jenkins) take the scalp of Windy Spirit (James Tudor). Even though the jockey put up seven pounds overweight, the chestnut gelding ran on well to defy the well-backed Windy Spirit who had looked a big threat two out. The nine year old looked classy in his win and could be worth following know re-finding the winning thread. Wings of Hope (D Jones) ran well for a long way and this ex hurdler under rules will be winning a race this season, probably at a lower level.

The Ladies Open saw Knight of Passion (Charlotte Tizzard) go off favourite and was prominent throughout with Sip Of Brandy (Jodie Hughes) who pulled well clear of the spread out field. The pair were upsides two out where Knight Of Passion had not got rid of the persistent challenge of Sip Of Brandy when the Hughes’s gelding landed awkwardly unseating Jodie Hughes. This left Knight Of Passion to gallop onto victory from the ex Venetia Williams trained Hescondido (Lucie Batchelor) who ran on well from a long way back to finish second on his first point start. The winner isn’t getting any younger, fourteen, but should still continue to pay his way. Sip Of Brandy who won a Ludlow Hunterchase in 2003 should be able to gain compensation in the coming weeks where as Hescondido should score when ridden more prominently.

The Intermediate saw a potential star for the future in Cannon Bridge (Dai Jones). Dai Jones, his style likened to Paul Carberry by the commentator, couldn’t hold the already three times scorer so let him have his head early in the second circuit and he turned the race into a procession. The useful Beauchamp Oracle, had finished fifth in a recent Leicester Hunter Chase (S Lloyd), was left in second but had no answer to the impressive winner and could be interesting when switched to the Williams main yard and is the type to excel for Evan Williams over the summer months.

Division one of the maiden was split with Godfrey Maundrell and Theatre Call running on strongly to beat the first time out Room Enough (R Hodges) by fifteen lengths. The winner having ran this season had the upper edge but it will be worth following the second for the future as the gelding gave the impression he is capable of winning a race.

Division two of the first division involved controversy As What a Surprise (Lucy Rowsell) jumped the last ahead of Kicking Bear (James Tudor) and looked to hold of the challenge of the latter. The judge gave the verdict that Kicking Bear had got up by the minimum margin and the Rowsell camp made an objection but to no avail due to the Judges verdict being final.

What a Surprise ran well after three seasons on the sidelines and should be able to gain compensation for this possible misdemeanour.

The Second division of the open maiden saw some interesting runners with JP McManus running his Just Back ridden by Alan Berry and the Mathias’s, who had good success last year with Sohapara, running the Promising River Treasure (Marc Barber). Just Back was jumping well in the lead until unseating on the second circuit, which left What Up Jake (William Oakes) to take a very large lead heading into the home straight. His only pursuer was Nearly a Mildred (Rilly Goschen) who was closing but still around ten lengths down approaching the last. Whats Up Jake made a big mistake at the last, probably due to the sloping side of the fence, and William Oakes did very will to stay with his partner and from there sauntered home for second. Nearly A Mildred showed her first worthwhile form whereas Whats Up Jake can be seen as a very unlucky runner up and should be in the number one slot before long.

James Tudor, leading jockey at the meeting, was denied a double in the last race of the day when Belles Last took it up jumping the last but then was carried out by the loose horse leaving the front running Make It Easy and Tim Vaughan to run on well to score. Belles Last did manage to get back on the course to finish second ahead of Highway Robbery (D.S Jones) and looks a winner without a penalty for the future.

Unlucky Losers: Belles Last, Whats Up Jake, What a Surprise

Potential Future Star: Cannon Bridge

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