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23rd January 2005
by Geoff Handley
photos by Graham Fisher

Racing was delayed for an hour at this bitterly cold North Oxfordshire venue. The course did not get an overnight frost which was surprising as the roads through the picturesque villages of Heythrop and Dunthrop were quite icy and snow was reported not too far from the track. The temperature only just hovered above freezing all day. Conditions were sticky with the going as good with good to soft in places. A large crowd took full advantage of the bright sunny day and even Dom had made the long journey down from Yorkshire.

1. Hunt Members
The first race started at 12.30 with eight runners going to post. Lambrini Gold looked fit in the paddock and it showed on the course as he won well for jockey Henry Kinchin and trainer Jason Maloney. Purchased at last years Doncaster sales, this 11-year-old gelding had pulled up on his last five outings when trained by Ginger McCain. Taking it up on the final circuit, his nearest challenger the favourite, Tom Putt, was just behind the leader when he slipped on the bend and unshipped Peter Mason. This left the winner a long way clear of the rest of the field. Landing Rights came down at the last when held in second, leaving Wilberforce to finish a remote second.
Moscows Return drifted in the betting and was always behind before pulling up.

Lambrini Gold and Henry Kinchin take the Members

2. Confined
Peter Mason wasted no time from his first race mishap to win for his father on Love At Dawn. Starting second favourite, he took up the running on the final circuit to win going away. Strongly handled by the jockey who was recording his sixth win, Love At Dawn won twice last season at Andoversford defeating the useful Camden Carrig (was to run later) and at Garnons. The favourite and one to note next time was the Polly Gundry ridden Charlie Strong for Ben Tulloch. Leading from the outset he was slightly outpaced on the final circuit but much to his credit he stayed on strongly.
Sheila Mackenzie with Tim Lane aboard finished third of the sixteen runners.
One to take out of the race was fourth placed Irilut, who would have finished a clear second had he not almost unseated Sam Waley-Cohen at the last (was left hanging onto the horses neck!).

Love At Dawn and Peter Mason are comfortable winners of the Confined...

...almost upstaged by Sam Waley-Cohen's rodeo act on Irilut at the last

3. Ladies Open
Ollie Bush made the long journey from her Cullompton yard worthwhile as the useful Mrs Be, well ridden by Polly Gundry, saw off her market rival, the Heather Irving trained/ridden You're Agoodun by an easy four lengths. Mrs Be is clearly talented having finished third in her final outing Stratford's John Corbet Cup for Novice Hunter Chasers although prior to this she was beaten at Barbury at 1/3 and at Ludlow at 8/11. The yard has some promising types at their Devon stables including Flash Point, What A Mover and Vinnie Boy. Owner John Burbridge also has the useful Bright Approach.
The fourteen-year-old Bitofamixup ran on well to finish third for Brea Donnelly. The race was run over an extended 3m5f with twelve going to post.

Ladies Open winner Mrs Be (Polly Gundry) is chased over the last by You're Agoodun (Heather Irving)

4. Mens Open for The Lord Ashton Of Hyde's Challenge Cup
Julian Pritchard had won four of the last five runnings of the prized Lord Ashton Of Hyde's Cup run over four miles including the last two years on John Burbridge's prolific Bright Approach, but sadly he was out of action having suffered a nasty collarbone injury at Tweseldown.
Three horses dominated the betting in this seven-runner field, the even money fav was Camden Carrig closely followed by Americanconnection and at 7/2 was Tanager.
The race was dominated by these three over this marathon trip, Camden Carrig, ridden by Nick Phillips, dominated in the early stages of the race but on the final circuit Americanconnection with James Diment took up the running and was three lengths clear when coming down on the back straight. This left Tanager clear, pulling away to win by fifteen lengths from the favourite who will come on for the run. Tanager also ran in the John Corbet Cup, a race that is working out well and should pay to follow (won by Cantarinho). A good win for Ben King & Karen Lawther.

Tanager and Ben King land the Lord Ashton of Hyde's Challenge Cup from Camden Carrig and Nick Phillips

5. Intermediate 
Astley Gold looked a picture in the paddock and duly obliged. 10/1 was available on this lovely looking chestnut. He has been rather unlucky in his last few runs, he was carried out on his seasonal debut at Tweseldown and was also brought down when favourite at Clifton-on- Dunsmore, but made no mistakes here. Always up with the pace, he took it up three out from Native Thunder to win by just over three lengths for the combination of jockey Tim Lane and Bedfordshire trainer Garth Whisker.

Tim Lane returns on Astley Gold following their win in the Intermediate

6. Open Maiden (Div 1) For six year olds or over
Victory went to the 10-year-old maiden Penlet Too, a full brother to Penlet, giving Barry Denvir a win on his very first ride. Available at 20/1 in the ring, Penlet Too stayed on strongly having only been fourth as they jumped the second last. Alston House had looked all over the winner for Guy Disney jumping the last in the lead but was outstayed by the eventual winner.
The one to note was Jewel Song who made eye-catching headway on the final circuit, jumping well before weakening into third for the promising Jonathan Jarrett. This is the second eye-catcher in a row for Oxfordshire trainer Matt Hazell with Finder Keeps running a promising race last Sunday at Barbury and this combination are worth keeping an eye on in future.

Penlet Too and Barry Denvir - winners of the Older Horses Maiden Div 1

7. Open Maiden (Div 2) For six year olds or over
Eleven runners went to post for this second division (same as the first) with victory going to Katie Baimbridge's Arceye. Well ridden by Ed Walker this 5/1 shot was always close up with the pace and took up the running after the early pace setter Dun Aengus came down on the final circuit. He held on well pulling out more close home, however Ed Walker quickly dismounted from the winner as he became distressed in the shute on the way back to the winners enclosure. Fortunately, Arceye seemed ok after some five minutes standing still. Runner up some twelve lengths behind the winner was Pirandello Due for Zoe Lilly.

Arceye and Ed Walker comfortably take Div 2

8. Open Maiden Race (Div 1) For five six and seven year olds over 2m 4f
The strong favourite was the locally trained/ridden Nailed On for Andy Martin following three useful runs including a fair third on the opening day of the season at Cottenham. He was ying in fourth place and with the race yet to unfold when he came down on the final circuit. The race was run by Steve Flook's Gumlayloy, given a stylish ride by Rhys Hughes. Potentially under rated, he jumped and settled much better here as he failed to complete in three of his four races last season. A good win for the Leominster yard, their runners at Barbury last week looked like they would come on for the run particularly Beauchamp Oracle.
Runner up was Ben More who should win a maiden and another eye catcher back in third was Ski Country who travelled well throughout.

Gumlayloy and Rhys Hughes return after their win in the Younger Horses Maiden Div 1

9. Open Maiden (Div 2) For five, six and seven year olds over 2m 4f
The final short maiden was split and was not run until 4.30pm with the light fading fast. Those brave souls who had stayed to the end were now freezing. There was a big racecourse whisper for Springbrook Girl from the Andy Hobbs yard and was Adrian Wintle’s only ride of the day. Much to the frustration of the small crowd that was left, he came down three out to leave the way open for Son Of Flighty and to give the yard of Andy Martin quick compensation, although Andy didn’t ride (unseated in the previous race), the successful jockey was Ian Howe who had not even sat on the horse before. Springbrook Girl should be followed next time.

Son Of Flighty and Ian Howe emerge from the twilight as ready winners of Div 2

A very successful meeting with 100 runners going to post. Admission was £20 for cars though for single occupancy a charge of £15 was levied which is rather too expensive.

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