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Saturday 15th April 2006

by Simon McInnes

photos by Adam Goodburn

Easter weekend and a huge crowd flocked to Charing, and were entertained by a good equine turnout as well - which was presumably ominous for the meeting two days afterwards at Aldington. Like Catsfield a week earlier, it was an almighty scrimmage to get to the bookmakers (at least until the rain set in around about race four), but at least this week the people were actually having a bet. Sadly, some elements of the bookmaking fraternity were ripping off inexperienced punters with some disgraceful prices - one was betting in the club members on an over round of 268% in a 12 runner race! The evidence is below, as I hope most people would not believe it without seeing it.

"You're having a laugh???"
by Simon McInnes

Rain caused a many to leave early, missing a quite extraordinary finish to the members race to close the card. As the weather became more inclement, it became harder to make any meaningful notes, so this report comes with an E&OE(BS) warning - errors and omissions excepted (badly smudged). Or any other meaning to BS that the reader sees fit!

Lipscomb Volvo Restricted
1: Saffron Hill 2: Court Award 3: Miss Biddy
Winner owned: Miss AM Reed, trained: Kate Buckett, ridden: Richard Bandey

Anyone prepared to travel from the Isle Of Wight to deepest Kent on a holiday weekend in search of a prize of £120 deserves a win for effort expende but may also be in need of a mental health check up. Voyaging seven year old Saffron Hill won his second race of the season at Charing with a little bit up his sleeve. Court Award plugged award under a typically indomitable Chris Gordon ride, but Richard Bandey did not have to get too serious with the winner to keep the margin at a safe couple of lengths, with Miss Biddy a bit further off the pace in third. For the second time in succession, Frozen Assets ran well for a fair way but dropped out very quickly. It is looking as if a stamina shortage or some infirmity is holding him back. Name and shame bookie is Maurice of Brighton who, in a race where three stood out on form, was betting Evens, Evens and 11/4. Not only is 127% a steep over round on 3 runners, but the other five were priced between 5/1 and 14/1.

Grants Cherry Brandy Open Maiden (4-7 year olds) 2m 4f
1: Munster's Best 2: Milanista 3: Luteur Des Pictons
Winner owned: Ease Partnership, trained: Sara Hickman, ridden: Alex Merriam

This might prove to be a better than average maiden, as Luteur Des Pictons (a weak finisher even at this reduced trip) has run plenty of times and gives a good guide to the merits of the race. Munster's Best made hard work of it due to a bad error two out, where Alex Merriam sat tight at the first pitch and was then nearly bounced out of the saddle by the horse's attempts to get back on an even keel. This turned a two length lead into a deficit at least double that. Luteur Des Pictons was left in front but tying up, and it was Milanista staying on gamely to make the most threatening challenge. In the end, a good jump at the last by Munster's Best made the difference as his rival was safe enough but not especially fluent. The fact that the winner had got quite sweaty and took quite a fierce hold going to post and in the race makes the fight back all the more creditable. Newcomer Milanista looked as good as anything in the field in the paddock and was plenty fit enough (although she was a little intimidated by her first exposure to the raceday atmosphere) and the prices on offer for her varied from 5s to 20s. On this evidence she should not be long in getting off the mark. The placed trio were well clear of Texas Red and Tuareg, who have both achieved modest places in 2006. The youngster of the party was Butlers Boy who had shown a hint of promise in his only other run before pulling up, but there was no progress here, as he jumped moderately and did not travel especially well on the flat bits between obstacles either. Name and shame bookie is the ironically named Premier Racing - prices were 2/1, 2/1, 2/1, 5/2, 3/1, 5/1, 6/1, 6/1 and 10/1 - a profit squeezing over round of 208%.

Lipscomb Lotus Men's Open
1: Cape Stormer 2: Little Herman 3: Cedar Chief
Winner owned & ridden: Marcus Gorman, trained: Carolyn Gorman

This was win number four on the bounce for Cape Stormer, in a race that was a replay of the Restricted, as the runner-up tried manfully to dig away at the lead, but however much he kept finding, the winner matched it to keep a modest but safe gap. Historically Cape Stormer is a horse that you imagine can be worried out of it if the challengers can get nose to nose with him, but he has been in a very good mood for 2006 and stuck two fingers up at the doubters - for now? Little Herman has had only one bad run all season and both of this pair should still be capable of delivering the goods next term. Cedar Chief, who was the paddock pick, had the unusual experience of not making the running, but ended up being beaten by the same sort of margin as has been his theme for the year. Despite a blank do far, it would not be a surprise if he were to pinch one of the ladies races in the few remaining points in the area. Another eye-catcher before the race was Bard Of Drumcoo, who was bang in contention when taking a crashing fall at the twelfth. The name and shame bookie cannot actually be named as my writing is illegible, but the prices that stood out for a major swizz were 1/2, 2/1, 3/1, 4/1, 4/1, 16/1, 16/1, 16/1. Overall the round is 182%, but 165% on just the five main contenders!

Eastwell Manor Ladies Open
1: Millenium Way 2: Indoux 3: Galeaway
Winner owned, trained & ridden: Caroline Taylor

After last year's all conquering performance, it was a bit tame for Millenium Way to not seal his third win of 2006 until mid-April, but it proved a fairly straight forward task. He was in and out of the lead early on, pushed ahead at the eleventh and was never headed from there. Galeaway tried to make a race of it, but only briefly around four from home did it look as if he would succeed, and he tired badly from two out, losing the second spot to fast finishing Indoux. The runner-up has been a reformed character this season, but this performance of losing his position and staying on when it was all too late is just like the bad old days of, erm, a year ago - and earlier. The other two to finish were Persian King (rain meant the ground had gone against him) and Madmidge who, like Galeaway, did too much early on the second circuit and faded out of contention quickly. Both of them actually performed a bit better than the bare result implies.

Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant SE Hunts Club Members
1: Whites Touch 2: Bally Wirral 3: Heaven Is Above
Winner owned, trained: Tim Underwood, ridden: Philip York

Whether the venerable Underwood intended to ride this or not, being flung to the ground by Withington in the maiden sealed the decision, and Philip York conjured a well timed run in what was the race of the day in terms of spectacle. Three out there were still six in contention, although rain on the binoculars meant identifying them was not so easy. The familiar and easily spotted Maundrell colours were cruising along on Bally Wirral, about to be produced for their usual late surge, and this all went to plan up until the approach to the final fence when grey mare Whites Touch came flying past, to win by an unexpectedly convincing four or five lengths. She has progressed this season to form beyond her winning effort last year, so this victory was not out of turn. Back in third, Heaven Is Above was being ridden first amongst the leaders, and he kept responding, all the while shaping as if something would finish too fast for him - and having Bally Wirral poodling alongside apparently unruffled cannot have helped morale. Altareek occupied many positions at various times during the race, then tried to catch them napping turning into the back straight, but the move was readily covered and he found himself run out of a place. Sanamour called it a day after a lap. When he completes, he wins, but the non-finishing to wins ratio is now 2:1. Once a good horse in Ireland, Active Member showed up well for a long way again, and gives the impression that he is being nursed back to something like his best slowly. Do not be put off by the less than encouraging form figures. Name and shame returns to Premier Racing, with prices for this of 2/1, 2/1, 2/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 5/1, 5/1, 20/1 and 20/1. Is this the worst book ever offered at 268%?

Hobbs Parker Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers
1: Nicodemus 2: Minino 3: Dick McCarthy
Winner owned, trained & ridden: Helen Williams

It seemed that Nicodemus at produced a pretty extraordinary effort to win from a hopeless position at Penshurst a fortnight earlier, but he topped it today, coming from further back at an equally late stage to beat better rivals. Punters pre-race plans were skewered when Minino jumped off on terms, fueling the fire of the theory that it is just Penshurst that he hates. Dick McCarthy tried to niggle away at him in the last lap, to no avail. Between the last two it seemed all over. Minino was three clear of McCarthy, and there was another ten or twelve lengths to Nicodemus. However, when Helen Williams pushed the button marked 'charge,' Nicodemus closed rapidly, got the best jump at the last and led in the last couple of strides, against a rival who finds very little for pressure - and did seem a tadge surprised to see him emerge from the gloom. As far as Nicodemus and Helen Williams are concerned, it has been a good demonstration of how a partnership can develop from unpromising beginnings, as there was at no stage any sign of another unseated and we will give the rider the benefit of the doubt that she knew how much the horse had in the tank!


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