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Erw Lon
Saturday 21st February 2009
by Amanda Sloyan
photos by Alun Sedgemore


A four timer for John Mathias

The name on everyone lips after the Carmarthenshire point-to-point meeting at Erw Lon was that of John Mathias. Making up for a disappointing start to the season, John a Mechanical Engineering student at Pembrokeshire College once again showed why he was last seasons area champion jockey by taking four of the seven races.

John’s father Philip based in Manobier trained the first, Tokpela for owner Christine Toy in the opening Hunt Members race. The 10 year old gelding was last seasons leading maiden and champion area horse but connections were left scratching their heads after a lack lustre performance at the Vale of Clettwr meeting when pulling up. The Paul Hamer trained City Breeze had been backed down to 6-4 joint favourite with Tokpela but the latter drew away in the closing stages to win easily by ten lengths.

John Mathias and Tokpela win the Members Race

Only half a length separated the first two in the Men’s Open. Dewi Lewis’ Balearic Star came away the shock winner from Twilight Dancer in a great race for the line. Ballycassidy had been sent off the 4-5 on favourite, but was never able to dominate up front and came off the bridle and under pressure on the first circuit. Cannon Bridge took them along in his usual front running style, but with a seven pound penalty and it being his first run of the season he began to tier three out having to settle for third place. Balearic Star proved a consistent performer last season but a victory had eluded him. Trainer, Mark, the owners son put the performance down to” a good summer break. Something he has never had before, he’s come back a different horse for this year”. The Men’s Open at Brecon is next on the agenda for the winner but he may not be available at the generous odds of 20-1 again.

Runners and riders in the Men's Open Race on the first circuit of Erw Lon

Happy connections of Men's Open winner Balearic Star

Paktol Des Brosses came home an impressive winner by three lengths from Grey Kid in the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate in an identical time as the Men’s Open The first four in this race qualified for the Intermediate Point-to-point final hunter chase on May 6th at Cheltenham and connections of the first two home will defiantly consider the trip to Pestbury park. This was John Mathias third win of the day but by far the one that impressed him the most. Owner/Trainer Dai Rees from Clarbeston Road, Pembrokeshire also holds a National Hunt trainers licence so will be looking to a summer campaign over hurdles with this one after the point-to-point season end.

A large crowd at Erw Lon watch the racing

The Rees/Mathias combination were to team up again during the afternoon, winning the Restricted race with Kasha King, the 6-1 shot had looked booked for second place before even money favourite and well clear leader Silver Story ran out through the wing four out, giving jockey Dean Coleman a nasty fall and John the cause for a Frankie Dettori style dismount back in the winners enclosure.

A summer away riding out at licensed trainer Nigel Twiston-davies yard has really benefited John and there was to be another winner during the afternoon that benefited from knowing Twiston-Davies, that being previous employee Marcella Bayliss. A lorry breakdown looked to halt the trip to Erw Lon from her Cotswold base but her former boss came to the rescue with a replacement vehicle, allowing Marcella’s home bred Twiga Woods to take the Mares Maiden race by a distance, ridden by 26 year old veterinary surgeon Isobel Thompsett.

Isabel Tompsett and Twiga Woods clear the last fence with ease to win the Open Maiden Race for Mares Only

It completed a double for Isobel who had earlier taken the Ladies Open, making all on Chestnut Annie who justified favouritism at 1-3 on. The ensuing runners tried in vain to keep tabs on this relentless galloper but at the line she had eight lengths to spare over Chloe Roddick on Bob Bites Back.

As usual Chesnut Annie (white cap) leads the way in the Ladies Open Race

A rather worried looking Beth Roberts watches her Chesnut Annie wins yet another race

The most exciting finish of the day must go to the final race, the Horses and Geldings maiden with two horse disputing the lead two out having to settle for the minor placings at the last, winner. 2-1 favourite Duggans Forge ridden by Jodie Hughes seemed to be outpaced and back peddling along with the second placed Doctor Supremo down the back straight jumping the ditch but both gained a second wind to wear down and pass Micigan Assassin and Musque En Tete at the last, with the official winning distances 3 lengths and 5 lengths.

A close finish in the 148cm Pony Race. Total Eclipse (near side) ridden by Rachel Leyshon just gets the better of Josie (Charlie Bishop)

Oscar and Jordan Williams (red colours) win the 138cms Pony Race

It was a fitting end to the day for the largest crowd seen at Erw Lon for a Carmarthenshire meeting. The area now hands over to South Wales until a return to Erw Lon for the Llandeilo Farmers Meeting on Saturday 4th April.

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