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Mid Surrey Farmers Drag
Sunday 7th March 2010
by Simon McInnes

The south-east's stop-go season staggered back into life with a meeting that was a great comfort to those that are not at home with unfamiliar circumstances, as the feature events fell the way of a couple of the area perennials. Of course, it does indicate a potential future problem. A couple of years ago, the south-east had a major rethink of it's race programming and the supporting events have tended since that to attract better numbers, but with Carryonharry a 1/5 favourite in the three runner Ladies' Open, and Bee An Bee 1/3 in a five runner Men's race, which turned out to concern only him and one other horse, as the market predicted, it is proving harder to bring through young horses to even challenge, never mind beat, veterans who should be at an age when they are vulnerable. I was going to blame competing with Tweseldown for the lack of travellers for the opens, but…

Going: Dead, but lacking mud

Race 1: Desmond Donegan Memorial Members
1: Little Legend 2: Master Alf 3: Theatre Knight
Winner owned: Michael Haydon, trained & ridden: Cynthia Haydon
A big upset opened the card, as Master Alf was beaten by the unconsidered Little Legend. Master Alf was patiently ridden, and closed on the winner two out, then took a slight lead when Little Legend blundered, but found himself outpaced on the run-in. There were several possible reasons for the result. Maybe Master Alf was feeling the effect of his hunter chase run earlier in the week. Perhaps the winner was under-estimated, never actually having finished a race before, leaving his competence in the latter stages unknown. Little Legend's previous form was UFB, and blunders at the ninth and seventeenth, plus a couple of other unconvincing efforts, showed that whilst he can run clearly quite well, the jumping is a work in progress. Who knows what happens next, but backing him each-way seems an act of folly. Theatre Knight, a market drifter, was quite a way behind in third, just ahead of It's Showtime. On his comeback after a long, long absence, Turnstile needed the race badly and ran accordingly. When fitter, there will be a chance to see if age has bolstered his staying power.

Race 2: Hazel Ann Florist CA Club Members
1: The Tailor Carey 2: Captain's Legacy 3: Lillie Lou
Winner owned: The Gorman Family, trained: Carolyn Gorman, ridden: Marcus Gorman
The early pace in this did not look, to the naked eye, recklessly quick, but come the winning post it definitely proved beneficial to have been amongst the more patient participants. The Tailor Carey played that hand excessively, progressing rapidly from four out, to lead two from home - he soon had the race sewn up. Captain's Legacy just got the best of Lillie Lou as the pair struggled up the hill for the minor honours. Having been quite wound up during his brief appearance in the parade ring, Pass Me By, who had made a promising debut last month, made it no further than fence seven. Towards the end of last season, Prince Rodney suddenly began doing things that earlier seemed beyond his talents, such as winning, and his couple of runs this season are making the good days look even more out of character. Perhaps he is waiting for another end of term adrenalin rush. After two good tries this season, including a win here, The Humbel Monk was highly disappointing. Leading early, the energy flow dried up rapidly once he was headed and could not even claim to have lost bravely. New Street Express was another to be well below par, in that he is not often unplaced, yet never challenged to make the minor "in the frame" accolade today. Given that there is every chance that many of the runners could meet again, Holmes and Moriarty style, a race run more cautiously could see the form turned around significantly.

Race 3: Global Food Technologies Men's Open
1: Bee An Bee 2: Honourable Spider 3: Lucky Leader
Winner owned & trained: David Robinson, ridden: Stuart Robinson
In the betting, it was 1/3 Bee An Bee, 3/1 Honourable Spider, 10/1 the other trio. The race went as that suggested it should. When Bee An Bee was beaten at even longer odds-on here in 2009 in a match, it was, hindsight tells us, due to under-estimating Noakard De Verzee quite badly. Honourable Spider was not able to stalk the leader as closely as that horse had done, and although he edged into the lead from two out, Bee An Bee gave the impression he had enough in hand to have seen off a stronger challenge, although he is probably still vulnerable to a rival who has a modicum of a turn of foot. As today proved, staying close enough to use it is easily said, less often done.

Race 4: Highfields Farm Ladies Open
1: Carryonharry
Winner owned: Mrs H Silk and Mr R Purkis, trained: Emma Leppard, ridden: Cynthia Haydon

A cakewalk for Carryonharry. Levallois was upsides and doing his best to make a race of it when he departed at the thirteenth, and Spring Lover, who was left a tailed off second, was too tired to get more than two fences further in pursuit of a bit of prize money. There really is no more to report than that.

Race 5: Premiere UK Restricted
1: Spartan Place 2: Supa Tramp 3: Star Gift
Winner owned & trained: Richard Gurney, ridden: Phil York
A much healthier turnout, with twelve of the fifteen entries declared. It still turned into a two horse battle a long way out, but at least the others showed up and tried (in as many cases as can be expected for a restricted). Supa Tramp had let Spartan Place (sweaty, but not as bad as when he won here before) show the way, and after the third last made his challenge on the outside. In the home straight, Spartan Place hung and jumped left, which was not helpful to Supa Tramp, but the margin at the line was a couple of lengths. Peter Bull, riding the second, apparently felt quite strongly that a steward's enquiry was in order, but the margin was probably enough to prevent any chance of a disqualification, and as he had at this point ridden every second placed horse on the card, a certain degree of fed up-ness was surely part of his train of thought. Although he did get third, Star Gift was so far adrift that he is not to be considered as regaining his 2009 form yet. Club Captain showed signs of reluctance when going to post, and had not really picked up much enthusiasm when the race got under way, and he only took up the challenge under protest for a mile or so. Florence Mary won the traditionally dreadful mares' maiden at the last meeting, and was not up to the tougher challenge here - but she is still inexperienced and youthful, so not a forlorn hope yet.

Race 6: Ward-Thomas Removals Ltd Open Maiden
1: Durante 2: Tobougg Welcome 3: Caged Tiger
Winner owned: A Coveney & L Sadler, trained: Andrew Coveney, ridden: Peter Bull
The form of Durante's runner-up effort in his pointing debut had been roundly endorsed by Spartan Place one race earlier, but the way things had gone all day for his rider, there was a chance that the opening looked too good to be true. In the end, it was fairly plain sailing, and although it is off-putting when a twelve year old wins a maiden, Durante's form under Rules was sound enough until he switched to pointing, and he would surely have won at a younger age if a) he had not been so lightly raced, b) he had been given the chance to try this level earlier and c) his very occasionally wobbly competitive spirit was not compromised in option b). Tobougg Welcome ran OK on debut at Cottenham behind a reasonable winner, and stepped up a little on that - he looks like he can win a race. On the other hand, Caged Tiger is showing an uncanny knack for coming third... Fealeside Lord weakened five from home, regressing on his debut at Detling. In fifth was Rue De Facile, who was never in the race and came up the hill as strongly as anything all day. If a more positive ride is expected or more experienced rider employed, he might be worthy of interest each-way.

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