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Bicester with Whaddon Chase
Sunday 29nd April 2007
by Geoff Handley

The course had been watered producing going officially described as Good to Firm; the weather forecasters had predicted a beautiful afternoon however race goers were greeted with a cool chilly breeze and overcast conditions which soon turned to rain although it did brighten up later in the afternoon.

The early season growth of the rape seed didn't help the viewing down the back straight with the three fences being obscure and also the trees next to Point To Point House were in full bloom restricting the view of the first fence in the straight (fences 1,9 & 17).

Only three went to post for this opening event with Tanager the hot favourite for trainer Karen Lawther and jockey James Tudor. Tanager has the dubious distinction of a squiggle in its form rating from both Mackenzie & Harris and Timeform; however it doesn’t owe anybody any favours having recorded his 10th points victory here together with a Hunter Chase win.

Always in the lead, his main rival Parsonhumphrywebber was soon being given a reminder with a circuit to go and pulled up shortly afterwards, leaving the rank outsider Dundonald as the only other rival. He put up a brave bid throwing down a challenge briefly three out to Tanager but could never past the hot favourite, to be beaten by three lengths; this a far better performance by Dundonald and his first completion in points.

As for Tanager, I must admit that I have followed his career closely. A winner of the Lord Ashton of Hyde's Cup at Heythrop in 2005, his sole Hunter Chase win came a few weeks after that with a gutsy win at Newbury. A group of us went that day specifically to back him and he won at the rewarding odds of 16/1 getting up close home. A runner in the past in the Foxhunters at the Festival and this years Aintree Foxhunters, he is a credit to connections.

Open Maiden
A well deserved success at the eighteenth attempt for Madame Bavard and the Harbour team, trainer Sue and jockey Emily. The win was not totally unexpected as it was backed in the ring from 7/1 down to 5/1.

The ten year old mare was always in a good position just behind the leaders and took up the running three out to forge powerfully clear up the hill, she has been placed seven times and deserved this victory today.

As for the four other runners, the favourite Hi Star was disappointing, looked well in the paddock, help up by Roy Sealey slow jumps at the fifth and eight didn’t help and soon lost touch with the leaders, some moderate late headway saw him finish third.

Bonnyjoe finished runner up with Fred Hutsby on board, shortly after this race he would make the twenty mile drive to Clifton on Dunsmore for a winning ride on Mister Bertolli before returning to Mollington later in the afternoon. Fourth was Welsh Gold for Roy Bailey

The only runner failing to finish was Class War, the Rosie Goodwin trained gelding was taken down early to post for Phil York, waited with in the race he still had every chance when coming down in the back straight on the second circuit, could pick up a small maiden.

Ladies Open
Trainer Phillip Hobbs made the long trip from Somerset to see his daughter Diana ride to victory the hot favourite Koquelicot, formerly trained under rules by Phillip where it was a winner five times, it’s now trained by Marie McGuinness.

Starting at 1/5 fav it was difficult to spot the combination with Dianna's colours of yellow being camouflaged by the rape seed. However Koquelicot virtually made all to win by two lengths, a winner last time at Badbury Rings where he had galloped to victory, Koquelicot had also won at the PPORC meeting at Barbury Castle for Sam Allwood.The nine year old will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in these ladies events, Bullfinch under Maxine Filby ran a fine race in second place giving the winner something to think about; he travelled well for a long way and could win before the season is out. Lah Di Dah Lad was third for Rosie Goodwin and Grenoulle was fourth for Ruth Tutton. A couple of mistakes not helping and the battle of the two greys both 33/1 chances was won by Maybeseven for Jennifer Harbison beating Steel Mill/Natasha Stallard

Open Maiden for four, five, six and seven year olds over 2m 4f
Only four runners but quite an eventful race and quite a hot little betting event, victory went to the unraced four year old October Sun trained/ridden by Phillip York and owned by David Fremel.

He was left alone at the last when Shona Spurtle some five lengths behind refused at the last when looking tired for Tim Lane. Indeed it was Shona Spurtle who had led the other three runners taking a keen hold under a steady pace but jumping well, she hung left as she tired at the penultimate fence handing the initiative to October Sun.

The well backed fav (6/4 from 7/4) was Another Tootsie trained by Zoe Hammond and ridden by Liam Payter, held up she was still travelling well when coming down five out, she looks up to winning a maiden.

The second newcomer in the race, Tit Willow for Emily Harbour looked as though the race would bring him on, a number of novicey mistakes didn’t help and he weakened six out, will do better given more experience,

Mens Open
A disappointing turnout of two runners with Bering Gifts/James Tudor (4/9) easily beating Teeton Prince/Dickie Barratt in the fastest time of the day, 6 mins 13 secs. A model of consistency this twelve year old was recording his ninth points win including six at trainer's Alan Hill local track Kingston Blount.

Yet another match with Hornbill/Roy Sealey (1/3) beating the only other challenge of Alfalfie/P.Hatton to record his third points victory. Always in the lead, Hornbill galloped away up the hill to win by twelve lengths. Formerly trained by Karen Lawther and now with Fred Hutsby, Hornbill is a half brother to Tanager and just like Tanager has the M&H squiggle against his name.

Five runners contested the final event of the day, the Members, Subscribers and Farmers Race. All the money in the ring was for Pro Am being backed down to favourite with Celtic Season and Sir Lancelot drifting in the market. The money was justified as Pro Am in the best finish of the day held off the relentless challenge of Sir Lancelot and Charlie Wadland. Well ridden by Ben Tuckey for father Michael, he looked a picture in the paddock, Indeed he was well backed on his debut here at Mollington and made an eyecatching debut, he was then backed again when winning his maiden at Kingston Blount. This was his third points victory.

Celtic Season ran a fine race in third for a fifteen year old for Tash McKim, there still could be a race in the Chris Loggin trained gelding. John The Greek was fourth for Bryan Allen and Fred Hutsby's dash back from Clifton was to no avail on Pendle Hill.

Overall a disappointing turnout of just twenty seven runners for the seven races and with the action relatively low key. Questions need to asked as to why this fixture clashes with the Atherstone just half an hour up the road. Surely for next year the two meetings need to be kept apart to ensure more runners at both venues?

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