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Tweseldown Racing Club at Tweseldown
Sunday 10th December 2006
by Simon McInnes

This meeting had recently been taking place in very bleak early January, but had moved forward a month as part of the experimental pre-Christmas programme. The milder weather, with consequent clearer viewing was a plus, but from a purely personal point of view, an 11.30 first race does not make for a chilled out start to Sunday. The car park did not look as busy as normal, but the crowd seemed to be comparable to what had been attending. Did the early start put a few off? Certainly not your hardy National Hunt trainer as Messrs Hobbs P, George T, Sherwood O, Buckler R and King J (retired) were all spotted on site.

The track had endured the recent bad weather rather well, and the horses did not appear any more stretched by conditions than would be typical for the venue - even the puddle in the pedestrian tunnel was a pale imitation of its predecessors! Also, the fear of having to abandon races at the end was quickly averted as the opener did not have to be divided. Given the number of very long distance travellers, there must have been plenty of sighs of relief around the place.

Gaydon's Farm Tweseldown Racing Club Members, for 9yo and up, veteran & novice riders [3m]
1: Chicuelo 2: Royal Tir 3: Christopher
Winner owned: Miss M Filby & Mr G Jenkins, trained: Mervyn Loggin, ridden: Maxine Filby

Only arriving just in time for this eighteen runner spectacular, I was not entirely with it as the race was run, and despite writing down the finishing order as 2, 28, 3, 23, 7, when number 26 was announced as the second, I scribbled my list out and wrote down what came over the PA. At some point, it was announced that there was a steward’s enquiry and the original result eventually petered through. The confusion was understandable as the interloper was Quickswood, ridden by Godfrey Maundrell, who has pretty much farmed this race in recent years, and the judge was just acting from habit. Alas, Quickswood is now 13 and the placings above show that this was a rather hot heat as regarding Rules refugees, and he ended up in midfield. Chicuelo was a surprise winner as this ex-Pipe, ex-Henderson inmate seemed to have lost all enthusiasm lately, but he was game enough on the run-in to provide Maxine Filby with her first winner. Royal Tir, who came from France with sacks full of winning form has not proved as prolific yet in points, but ran a decent enough race. Once with Philip Hobbs, and now owned by Mrs Hobbs and ridden by Miss Hobbs, Christopher was an unlucky loser, being badly hampered when Gallery God fell at the first (also bringing down Wealwayswillobeone - unfortunately not true for horse and jockey) and was detached at the back quite quickly. Given plenty of time to get his equilibrium back, Christopher was closing fast at the end, and was beaten far less distance than he lost. Native Performance made a good fist of things in fourth, but Dun Locha Castle, back in fifth, needs a far greater test of stamina.

Men's Open [3m]
1: Irilut 2: Halexy 3: Rebel Army
Winner owned & trained: Robert Waley-Cohen, ridden: Sam Waley-Cohen

A decent enough Mens Open that was won in quite good style by Irilut for the second time in 2006. He had a good time of it in the spring, but the Waley-Cohen horses always seem to turn out very fit for their first runs and one or two rivals could be a bigger threat if they meet again in the near future. Certainly Rebel Army would be in that category, but Halexy is approaching the fifth anniversary of his last win, and might not be one to trust in when looking for progress. Winsley, supported on the day by his former trainer Oliver Sherwood, was doing well in chases last season, but only won at 2 miles - he did win over further as a hurdler. Today he weakened quickly after the fourth last, and might be better off in hunter chases below three miles.

Astaire & Partners Ladies' Open [3m]
1: Gaye Trigger 2: Martin Ossie 3: Espresso Forte
Winner owned: Axe Valley Racing Partnership, trained: Richard Barber, ridden: Rachel Green

It was impossible not to be impressed with Gaye Trigger's fifth straight win, because he did it with ease despite looking less match fit than his market rival Martin Ossie, who is back whence he came (and won often) with Dick Baimbridge. He is not going to bump into such talent everywhere that he turns up - words sure to come back to haunt me! Third placed Espresso Forte also should be better for the race, although his form under Rules suggests that he will have to improve a bit to be winning Opens. The Hobbs family were again scuppered by the first fence, this time Kocquelicot unseating - at least without sabotage from a rival.

Rory Lawther 50th Birthday Tweseldown Club Members Conditions Race [3m]
1: Phar City 2: Something Small 3: Thompsons Wood
Winner owned & trained: Bob Buckler, ridden: Charlotte Tizzard

Winless since 2003, and once possibly dubbed on this site Phar Sickle after a hapless Plumpton run, Phar City found the perfect outlet for his dour plodability to see off the rather less experienced Something Small, with the rest well scattered in their wake. There were no hard luck stories amongst Phar City's victims, but a few disappointments. The only one totally exonerated is Something Small, who fits the Waley-Cohen blueprint perfectly, as a compact, dark coloured horse, the only deviation is not being bred in France. This was his third run so far, and probably best yet, but he has some work to do to match some of his stablemates achievements. Thompsons Wood did the donkey work out in front but his best form, which is not too far distant, should have seen him much more competitive with the first two. In the paddock, the strapping Soldier Of Rome caught the eye, but he was nudged along as early as the third, and despite clinging desperately on for a long way, he eventually pulled up and dismounted after the third last. He is better than this. Similar goes for Lord Of The Bog, who was in the van and did not see it out. Perhaps the conclusion of the last three comments is that the pace was much stronger than it appeared to the naked eye. The manner in which Inaki stayed on belatedly is typical of him, and does not influence the interpretation. It is easy to imagine him doing that a lot in points!

Astaire & Partners Restricted [3m]
1: Whistling Straits 2: Dursey Island 3: Fully Loaded
Winner owned: Mr J Beasley & Mr G Hibbert, trained: Caroline Robinson, ridden: Richard Burton

The only notes I had on Whistling Straits for this are 'led, jumped well.' And it does sum up the race in a nutshell. Under the circumstances it was mystifying that he could have come into this with form of RF1, and although he was a little tired at the end, the oppo had been seen off before it was a factor. Fully Loaded, who arrived in the paddock after all but one of his rivals were on their way to the start, was given a more patient ride than the dash to get in and out of the parade ring, and he seemed set for second until outstayed by Dursey Island, whose record of 1 win in 15 reflects his inability to hang in there when the pace quickens. Milanista looked the fittest of the bunch before the race but she was fading when pulling up in the cutting before the second last, where quite a few gave up the ghost today. Daraz Rose was fourth, and the only other finisher, but her jumping left an awful lot to be desired, mostly by Polly Gundry who had the ride. Get that sorted out and perhaps come on for the race, and she might not yet be a forlorn hope for a Restricted.

Richard Robinson Horse Transport Open Maiden, 4-7yo (Div I) [2m 4f]
1: Minouchka 2: Blackcomb Mountain 3: Frankiefromford
Winner owned & trained: SH Shirley-Bevan, ridden: Miss K Bryson

With the field of 14 spread over five pages of racecard, perhaps a racegoer friendly idea would be to divide races in number order - although in this instance a prevalence of high numbers being declared would have still seen division one cover four pages (and division two a much more sensible page and a half). Often placed under Rules, Minouchka made the journey down from Scotland a worthwhile one, probably, by opening his account in his first point. Marlion set the race up for him by going off in front as if it was a 1 mile flat race, and when the time came to reel that one in, Minouchka left the others floundering. His most likely danger, Anshanjack was brought down by Up In The Sky at fence number eight. The winning distance was vast, and Blackcomb Mountain's narrow margin over Frankiefromford does not amount to much, although the latter does seem the sort to have some improvement in him.

Richard Robinson Horse Transport Open Maiden, 4-7yo (Div II) [2m 4f]
1: Rum Cake 2: Top Bombing 3: Parzando
Winner owned: GT Lever & N Robinson, trained: Jeremy Scott, ridden: Neil Harris

The meeting began in the stewards room and ended there, with first past the post The Brogue Rogue disqualified for weighing in light. This was due to losing the weightcloth, which it appears happened approaching the second last. If that was true, then he rates a most unlucky loser, as the race was in the bag by that time, and the loss of the lead (as in led, not leed) made little difference. In obvious contrast, Rum Cake was a highly fortunate winner, having come from miles off of the pace to pinch second in the dying strides, whereas the other two placed horses at least made some sort of vain fight of it with The Brogue Rogue. From the trio that made the frame, Top Bombing is the one that had most to gain in terms of fitness, and Parzando was at the opposite end of the scale, looking ready to do himself justice now. Newcomer Tank Top appeared to be going well until disappearing from radar four out.

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