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East Kent
Monday 5th April 2010
by Simon McInnes

A bad day for the East Kent meeting, with only eighteen runners turning out for the six races - all who did deserve a mention. The going was barely raceable, and only the fact that there was far, far less rain than forecast allowed the meeting to get away with it. And as usual for the meeting, the local oddity of the fewer the runners, the bigger the crowd that turns up did apply. There was the usual car park bedlam, as the hillside parking area inexplicably gets as bad, if not worse, than the field beneath it, and the many undulations, often in random directions, hold the water as well. On the upside, as it was the sixtieth year of racing at Aldington, there was an excellent mini museum with photos of from all across the era, and features on the statistical leaders for the course. Reading one local newspaper report from 1959, which bemoaned how few races were then won by genuine hunters, it is nice to see that even way back then, the sport was not immune to a good whinge!

Going: Heavy (Soft places - which seemed a bit of straw clutching)

Race 1: Sammy Fuller Open Maiden
1: Tobougg Welcome 2: Particular Man 3: Tostig
Winner owned: Random Optimists Partnership, trained: Rose Grissell, ridden: Philip Hall
Tobougg Welcome: The form of his second to Durante at Godstone has been working out well, and he was favourite. Ambling round in front for a lap and a bit, he turned up the pressure and did find that Tostig clung in there a bit longer than expected, but ultimately seized a comfortable win. Particular Man: Runner-up in a short maiden at Charing on Saturday, and a couple of times mid-race looked as if he felt he had done enough for one weekend. In the end he saw it out to the line, having been left a few lengths adrift when the pace picked up four out. Tostig: On his racing debut, tried to make a battle of it with the winner, but never quite convinced that he was going to succeed, and tied up quickly from the second last. Jumped soundly and will presumably have learned from the experience.

Race 2: Hallett & Co Restricted
1: Supa Tramp 2: Corybride
Winner owned: PA Bull & S Fisher, trained: Suzy Bull, ridden: Peter Bull
Supa Tramp: Even setting a steady pace, he often held a rather clear lead, and when the race needed to be won from the third last, he effortlessly extended the margin. Corybride: Was a rather in and out performer in Ireland, and even though two UK runs have not excited, it was a bit disappointing how easily Supa Tramp was able to brush him aside. Given that there do not seem to have been many restricteds in the south-east this year, an extra runner or two may have been expected, despite the ground.

Race 3: McCabe Ford Williams Non-Rules Runners Open Maiden
1: General Willie
Winner owned: T Allman & J Allman, trained: Chris Lawson, ridden: Jody Sole
General Willie: Eventually finished alone, and a couple of late blunders almost took away that accolade. As was the case for most of the day, he seemed to gain an edge by leading at a slow pace of his choosing. Nada Mas: A first time runner, he was backed into favouritism and kept tabs on General Willie until the effort found him out five from the finish. After crossing the next fence, he was too tired to continue and pulled up. Coralkov: Fell on his only previous run, and was not impressive in the jumping department here, but survived until the fifteenth, at which point he was getting left well behind and sensibly called it a day.

Race 4: Paddy Hughes Memorial PPORA Club Members, Veteran & Novice riders
1: He's On His Way 2: Myson 3: Master Alf
Winner owned: Huntin' Shootin' Fishin' Partnership, trained: David Phelan, ridden: Tom Cannon
He's On His Way: Was third favourite in this, and did not appear to attract much betting interest, even though he has some occasionally decent Irish form, and had been second in a hunter chase this year. Always within a length or two of the leader, he nipped from third to first after fence fifteen and although he looked to be struggling to last home, the four length lead secured before the final fence stayed more or less intact. Myson: Made the first two for the seventh time in eight pointing runs, although five of them have been seconds. He was rated a few pounds lower than the winner as a handicap chaser, even though he managed to win a couple, which was beyond He's On His Way. It could be argued that they ran more of less as the handicappers said they ought to. Master Alf: Was not at his best with his jumping, and after being niggled along at the twelfth, the work rate was stepped up, mostly in vain, from fence fifteen. Presumably the conditions were beyond him. Daretobedifferent: Yet again looked the part, but dropped out of contention from the halfway point and eventually pulled up. Rider David Evatt retired after this race, although whether that is the result of 44 seasons careful consideration or totally the horse's fault was not specified.

Race 5: Hythe Bay Fish & Seafood Restaurant & Bar Mixed Open
1: Honourable Spider 2: Ben Alder
Winner owned: EMG Roberts, trained: Suzy Bull, ridden: Peter Bull
Honourable Spider: Won his third race on the spin, which he has achieved without looking the talent that he was back in 2008 and earlier. This was hard work, as his only rival proved to be infuriatingly persistent, but a fifth course win (second on the only other run) was duly secured. Ben Alder: A multiple winner and hunter chase second in Ireland, both his runs in the 09/10 season had been pretty dismal. A move across the Irish Sea might not bring him all the way back to his best, but this run showed no wilting of his enthusiasm, and he is still only an eight year old.

Race 6: S Watts Leadwork & Roofing Members
1: Major Blue 2: One To Note
Winner owned: Mrs Libby Lawson, trained: Elizabeth Lawson, ridden: Jody Sole
Major Blue: Caused a bit of an upset, winning at age 15 a race he failed to make the frame in a year ago. Having indulged in a cat and mouse battle with the runner-up for most of the way, he was going better for most of the home straight, which still only secured him a length or so lead at the last, which he maintained to the line. One To Note: Looked very well beforehand, and appeared to have the best form as well, plus was less than half the age of Major Blue. He challenged for the lead four out, pecked badly at the next, nearly got back on terms two from home, but just could not worry the winner out of the triumph. No Stranger: Dashed off into a twenty five length lead by the third fence, but was slowly reeled in and headed at the twelfth. For a while after that, he surprisingly refused to go away, but tailed off quickly from the fourth last, eventually pulling up before the final fence. Fleetwood Forest: Helped the main pair watch No Stranger toddle off in front, and although he stuck with them when they eliminated the wide margin, he could not live with the pace when it picked up, and was soon adrift. He pulled up, possibly before the second last.

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