With a rival meeting in the West Country, the entries were down on last year, but with not many other options for the connections, a good high percentage of them turned out and ran. The crowd, presumably dismayed by the morning weather of gales and torrential rain, was also down. However, the worst had cleared by the time racing began, the wind being nice and brisk, but it stayed dry. Alas, there was a bit of a catering breakdown, as the only tea/coffee option obvious was from the sole burger van, who were operating with just a small kettle. They strove hard, but long waits resulted and a bigger crowd would have made the situation unworkable.
Going: Good to Soft (Soft places)
Race 1: Gaydon's Farm Club Members for Veteran & Novice Riders and City of London Club Members, 9 year olds and up
1: Winsley 2: Baron Bernard 3: Old Kilminchy
Winner owned & ridden: N Byrne, trained: Geoffrey Deacon
Under the circumstances, it might have been expected that conditions were quite testing, but Winsley set out to prove that totally wrong, by going off in front and forcing a decent pace, with the challenge on the oppo to prove him wrong. The only one to give Winsley any worries was Old Kilminchy, who came off worst of the battle, plodding home very tired over the last half mile. As the only City Of London member racing, the Gorman team did have a cup to show for it. Baron Bernard kept on gamely, but not overly speedily, for second. When the winner made his intentions clear, Admiral Brown and Royal Tir did not take the bait, settling in the rear, then making steady progress mid race. Their combined efforts achieved no more than Royal Tir almost pinching third, but they had a nice pipe opener.
Race 2: Astaire & Partners Ltd Mens' Open
1: Whereareyounow 2: Irilut 3: Calvic
Winner owned: Mrs S Maxse & Mr J Maxse, trained: Victoria Collins, ridden: John Maxse
A copycat approach to the first race, as Whereareyounow (or Whereareyouknow as he appeared on several bookmakers boards, to make it more nonsensical), blazed off in front, with only Brigadier Du Bois giving serious chase. That horse gave way after a couple of miles, leaving Noakarad De Verzee and Irilut leading the pack. The former called it a day six out, but going towards the cutting Irilut had narrowed the leader's advantage to a handful of lengths. However, Whereareyounow had just been joshing with him, and as soon as Irilut looked like he may have him in his sights, the leader sped off again, for a very easy victory.
Race 3: Fontwell Park Racecourse Ladies' Open
1: Thompsons Wood 2: Saddlers Cloth 3: Major Blue
Winner owned: Thomo's Monday Club, trained: Debby Ewing, ridden: Miss H Watson
For the third race in a row, the winner did so by a comfortable margin, after he went into the cutting and it's fierce headwind ten lengths adrift and emerged from it in front. Sadly, the probably reason unfolded when leader French Execuive collapsed approaching the last, suggesting there was more to his sudden slowing than lack of race fitness. Saddlers Cloth had smatterings of form under Rules, but she only really inherited runner-up slot due to frailities of others. Whether she can find an open win depends on avoiding the bigger guns of the discipline. The main question is whether having seen people enjoying the racing close up here today, the sponsors will be moved to cease their progressive distancing of racegoers from the racing?
Race 4: Betfair ROA Club Members Conditions, 7 year olds and up
1: Milton Du Tresor 2: Le Seychellois 3: Coast To Coast
Winner owned: Paul Ridgeon, trained: Debby Ewing, ridden: Richard Burton
Apart from looking a bit eager, perhaps over-eager, in the paddock, there was nothing wrong with the newcomer Milton Du Tresor, and he was game enough to take advantage of Le Seychellois' stamina limitations (could have said Le Seychellois' suspect stamina, but it would have sounded like victimisation of people with a slight lisp - D'Oh!) as they turned for home. Although only seven ran, the third had some decent form every now and then in Ireland, and this trio were clear of the rest, so the race might be better than first impressions suggest.
Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate
1: Something Small 2: Simply Smart 3: Willie The Kid
Winner owned & trained: Robert Waley-Cohen, ridden: Sam Waley-Cohen
Two relative youngsters fought out the finish of this, and Something Small carried on where he left off last season, broadly on the up in everything except his stature. Simply Smart did not have the winner's pace from the second last, but she was a comforting distance clear of the bulk of the field, most of whom called it a day as they reached the home straight, leaving Willie The Kid to inherit third without a battle. Balau was going well in about third when he fell at the thirteenth. He makes fairly few errors but seems to have zero instinct for self preservation and departs when they occur. The downside is that the misfortune could crop up any time, but he is not the sort of bad jumper that is guaranteed to bulldoze through every other fence on his way round.
Race 6: Richard Robinson Horse Transport Club Members Maiden Conditions
1:ailor Carey 2: Millview 3: Blazing Guns
Winner owned & ridden: Marcus Gorman, trained: Carolyn Gorman
Nothing was obvious in advance of this being run to suggest that it was a better than average, or perhaps even equal to average, maiden, and the fact that the first four finished in a bunch backs that up, or asks us to believe four horses each had the scales lifted from their eyes and shackles from their limbs all at about the same time. That is not, however, to say that it did not pan out in a quite exciting fashion, as The Tailor Carey led three out, was well in command two from home and then found that the fuel tank was empty in the home straight. From the pack, Millview had emerged most purposefully, but then two runners finished with quite a rattle to threaten to trouble the scorer. They had both been given a lot to do, but the manner in which The Tailor Carey tied up did exaggerate the drama of the moment. Blazing Guns and Declans Choice were both debuting in points and can improve for the race. The former seems to be less exposed, whereas Declans Choice did have a few jumping problems in chases.
Royal Tir (race 1): Has won at a higher level, and although not prolifically successful, he had a gentle opener today
Admiral Brown (race 1): Should appreciate a stiff track in testing ground, and this was a good tune up should one become available soon
Noakard De Verzee (race 2): Won four last season at below open class, but jumped well until calling it a day at the far end of the track. He is worth another chance, despite appearing fit enough for this.
Lile Na Casca (race 3): Beaten quite comprehensively when carried out at the last, but she was on her toes in the most negative way before the race, and with two handlers and a fair chunk of the output of the national steel industry on her tack, she looks the type to be too wound up to do herself justice first time out.
Coast To Coast (race 4): The tide suddenly went out on his good runs mid-summer of 2006, but we shall sea if he can get back to winning ways in points
Off Broadway (race 5): Absent since April 2006, he looked as if the race would fine tune his fitness, and having been in contention up to the fourth last, he was soon pulled up. A better comeback than the bare form tells.
Blazing Guns (race 6): Caught the eye on this run and under Rules, when trained by Henrietta Knight, Blazing Guns had not set the world alight with his results, but had always run in big fields and usually finished better than halfway, so there are plenty of slower horses than him out there.
Saint Par (race 1): Ran on strongly for sixth, having been given far, far too much to do. He looked fit enough, and won first time last season, so there was no real reason for the doomed tactics.
Magic Of Sydney (race 2): Put in a circuit of decidedly hairy jumping, until finishing his long term plan to dispense of the services of a jockey.
Wages (race 3): Became a bit of a win-shy fop under Rules, and this pointing debut was no revelation.
Le Seychellois (race 4): If the choice
is which comes first? Le Seychellois to win a truly run three miler
or another coup in the Seychelles, keep lumping on the