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Sunday 5th February 2006

by Simon McInnes
photos by Graham Fisher

The going was officially good to firm, but seemed to ride without too much jar in it, and the runners turned out fairly well, with fields of 8, 8, 7, 10, 9 and 10. Oddly, the better than average weather had no effect and the crowd seemed down on usual. Perhaps having Tweseldown and a re-arranged Higham on the same day kept away some who would normally have travelled to this from a bit further afield. At some stage before the last race, somebody was fined £140, but who and why I could not hear as I was purchasing some mulled cider when the announcement came. I hope this information is sufficiently enlightening. The racing provided no comedy moments, so I had to make my own!
On the upside there were a couple of newcomers from Rules appearing that are a little more inspiring than the usual area recruits.

Gillian Jarvis Memorial SE Hunts Club Members Maiden (4-7yo, 2m 4f)
1: Saffron Hill 2: Selfcertified 3: River Tigris
Winner owned : Miss AM Reed, trained: Kate Buckett, ridden: Richard Bandey

Saffron Hill and Richard Bandey are clear at the last from River Tigris (3rd) and Selfcertified (2nd) in the Younger Horses Maiden

Only a fanatical optimist would consider this to be a maiden likely to leave it’s stamp on the future of pointing, but there was a small landmark, as River Tigris became the area’s first four year old runner.
There had been much advance discussion that as the age group were not allowed in any other type of race, winning would effectively end their season. To be fair, River Tigris, a small, slender filly, made a fair stab at it but lack of fluency over the last four fences saw her drop away from a threatening position.
It was on one hand inspired placing to get her in a race where the various allowances set her weight at ten stone, but the down side was that Gordon Gallgher put up seven overweight, and there are probably few riders in the area who could easily have gone lower.
This allowed Saffron Hill to cruise clear (the official distance announced was a length, which seemed very flattering to the placed horses), and the fact that he was placed over 3 miles last season suggests that he can cope with an easy course over the standard trip. Selfcertified took a rather ferocious hold when third at Catsfield last year, and was not surprising anchored towards the rear trying to settle in a slowly run race. The leading pair had skipped clear when he made his move and he only nicked second on the run in.
Improvement is certainly possible as he came across a tadge more amenable to the jockey's agenda this time.

South East Bookmakers SE Hunts Club Members Restricted
1:Aslapoftheeruo 2: Mon Esprit 3: Serious Man
Winner owned & trained: Mr I Heaney, ridden: Philip York

Aslapoftheeuro and Philip York make all to land the Restricted

This was a crushing victory for a horse that had a pretty feeble time of it last year. The result was aided by a fine ride, as kicking on at the top of the hill – hardly a radical idea at Charing - caught the rest of field unawares. Mon Esprit, who looked in good shape before hand, lumbered after Aslapoftheeuro unconvincingly from four out and only narrowed a small chunk of the gap. The only horse to give the winner a challenge was Serious Man, but as soon as he got into a good position, a mistake set him back again and that was that. In the paddock Waterliner caught the eye, but the going may have been a bit fast for her, the standard a possibly bit high and fitness a bit lacking. Only a seven year old, she might step up on this run. Overall, if this is going to be a typical performance, Aslapoftheeuro will make a much better impression than he was able to last year.

Hobbs Parker Mens Open
1: Rhythm King 2: Cape Stormer 3: The Grey Baron
Winner owned, trained & ridden: Godfrey Maundrell

Mens Open - Rhythm King & Godfrey Maundrell take the ditch with Keltic Heritage (Nick Pearce – 4th)

Twelve wins notched up in the last couple of seasons show him to be completely deslouched, and Rhythm King made it three out of three already in 2006. With race fitness on his side, he ended up being another easy winner, with Satchmo unable to make it a names coincidence forecast. A combination of light campaigns and a high proportion of his runs being out of the area, plus a career running alongside Struggles Glory has led to Satchmo being a touch under estimated in the south-east. Now a fourteen year old, he showed signs that age is catching up, but he is good enough to add to his tally in lesser opens. The one horse who clung in there against the winner was Cape Stormer, but his stamina in competitive race is not convincing, and he faded out of it in the last half mile. Despite not posing a danger at any stage, The Grey Baron made a reasonable start towards defending his title in the Kent National in mid-March. Rules refugee Keltic Heritage led for the first half of the race but faded once headed. Although a paragon of inconsistency, he is the sort of horse who will one day set off in front and find that the oppo cannot do anything about it.
Predicting that day is another challenge entirely.

Rhythm King comes clear on the run in to record his third victory of 2006

Jack Philips CBE Ladies Open
1: Fiery Ring 2: Millenium Way 3: The Wee Bishop
Winner owned: Simon Tindall, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Jenny Gordon

Fiery Ring and Jennie Gordon take a competitive Ladies Open

Although a very capable chaser in Ireland, Fiery Ring had seemed an out and out two miler, so this may have offset the class advantage that he held over his rivals. The unretirement of the area’s top lady pilot was another step in his favour, and strength in the saddle proved decisive when Fiery Ring burnt off Millenium Way by at least two inches, maybe as far as three. To his credit he was not flagging at end, but he may feel the heat when on a more testing course or going. Millenium Way was shrewdly campaigned last season for six wins and he looks as good as ever so far this time around. There are courses where he could turn around the form with the classy winner. In contrast, The Wee Bishop, a twenty length third, has left Dick Baimbridge and looks much more vincible than in the past. Kirov King did well up to a point but when the pressure was on he jumped poorly and dropped out of contention.

Join The South East Point-to-Point Supporters Club Members Conditions
1: Sanamour 2: No Reward 3: Supreme Storm
Winner owned: Simon Tindall, trained & ridden: Chris Gordon

Sanamour and Chris Gordon (yellow sleeves) track Supreme Storm, Raging Torrent and L’Etang Bleu at the ditch

Another close finish and another Gordon success. No Reward was the victim this time, having taken control three out despite jumping right all the way. Between the last two, Sanamour was closing gradually and without seeming as if he could catch the leader.
However, Philip Hall’s body language on No Reward was that there was not much horse left under him, and when No Reward fluffed the last fence, Sanamour had the momentum to steal spoils No Reward had earned. It was a rather more determined performance than his tame reappearance run. Having made the early running, paddock pick Supreme Storm posted only an average performance to be third. More interesting for the future was Altareek in fourth, who harried the leaders all the way and went down battling. He had not run under Rules for a couple of years, and won a bumper in his day, so ought to be capable of winning a race at some stage.

Sanamour completed a double for the Gordon/Tindall team in the Members Conditions Race

Grants Cherry Brandy SE Hunts Club Members Maiden
1: Change The Plan 2: Tates Avenue 3: Texas Red
Winner owned & trained: Mrs CM Gorman, ridden: Marcus Gorman

Marcus Gorman can take it easy on the run in as Change The Plan comfortably lands the Older Horses Maiden

Change The Plan was third three times in 2005, looking a slightly suspect finisher on two of them. For this seasonal debut he really had changed the plan, and stormed clear at the top of the hill, having a sufficient advantage over Tates Avenue for any late wobbles to be irrelevant – there were none. Tates Avenue did himself terrible inconvenience by pulling very hard early. Not only did he waste energy that would have been needed later, but the lack of concentration affected his jumping as well. He is definitely capable of much better than this but it will take some work. In the end, he had to fight to hold the runner-up spot from the rallies of Texas Red and Tuareg. The latter took a step forward after falling on his debut, but looked very fit for this and any improvement will have to be on the mental side.
Newcomer Showbiz Floozie had an unashamed school round, but was never put in the race to gauge how much better she may be capable of.

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