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Hursley Hambledon
Hackwood Park
Monday 3rd May 2010
by Simon McInnes

Despite the course having been subject to plenty of last minute rain, plus a large chunk of the water reserves of Hampshire in the weekend before the meeting, there was a ominous lack of horseboxes in their parking area on arrival. However, for the region and the time of year, the numbers held up quite well, so the boxes must have been employing some very advanced camouflage techniques in order to not be seen. It fills the time between pony races...

Going: On the faster side of Good? Not officially offered.

Race 1: Christie & Co Members
1: Kjetil 2: Presenting Express 3: Leonardo's Friend
Winner owned: Neil Henderson, trained: Jenny Gordon, ridden: Claire Douglas
A field of four made it for this race, a joint Members with the Isle Of Wight. The race was run at what appeared quite a sedate pace, but the final time held up quite well compared to later races. Presenting Express led until Kjetil chose to go on with less than a lap remaining, and although today we more or less got the good Kjetil - this was his sixth pointing win, but with a better attitude it could have been several more - and though the margin was comfortable, it was not as far as once looked likely. Having dropped back to third, Presenting Express regained second as Leonardo's Friend went out like a light from the second last.

Race 2: Carter Jonas CA Club Members, Veteran & Novice riders
1: Strong Weld 2: The Tailor Carey 3: Travellers Lad
Winner owned: RG Jenkins, trained: Nicky Sheppard, ridden: R Jenkins
Chasing his fourth won of the season, Strong Weld had an uncontested lead for all but a couple of fences and bowled along there without a care in the world. All seemed to be going to plan for the horse and those who backed him at 1/3, but rounding the final bend, he just began to labour a bit, and needed some urging from the saddle to keep ahead. The Tailor Carey got within a length at the final fence, but finished at pretty much the same pace as Strong Weld, with the irritant Travellers Lad, still a slight danger at the last, having weakened on the run-in. Jewel Song was disappointing in being a tailed off fourth. The race was eased for Strong Weld as Balableu, often a front-runner, managed to get left ten lengths at the start and showed his ire at the circumstance by walloping the twelfth and unshipping his rider.

Race 3: Ladies Of The Hunt Ladies' Open
1: Winning Counsel 2: Silver Monarch 3: Charm Of Gold
Winner owned: Mrs KR Smith-Maxwell, trained & ridden: Alexandra Smith-Maxwell
A race won with a cunning ride, as Winning Counsel appeared to have gone off at an mad pace, but clung on for the win. The clue was that having opened a fifteen length lead early on, it did not get any wider, so after the first couple of furlongs, she was not travelling any faster than the opposition. When the rest of the field narrowed the gap, there was no panic up front, and it became clear quite quickly that Winning Counsel had a final card to play, like all the best courtroom films. She had also proven her stamina by making all the running to win a three mile hurdle. Silver Monarch battled on at one pace, a step forward after not completing in his last two, but Charm Of Gold's winning run of three was comprehensively ended - she actually finished fourth but Miss Midnight's rider did not weigh in and was inevitably disqualified. The race was mostly run in a hail storm and a wind that picked up dramatically with the hail. And here we were thinking the summer wind-down had just cut in...

Race 4: PainSmith Solicitors Men's Open
1: Cape Stormer 2: Gunner Be Quick 3: Chaucers Miller
Winner owned: The Gorman Family, trained: Carolyn Gorman, ridden: Marcus Gorman
Early in the race, the participants here went round five abreast, but the last mile or so was an action replay of the ladies' race. Cape Stormer was about four lengths clear, his rivals ate in to the lead, but from the second last fence they tried hard but could make only slight inroads into the lead. Although many of them were gained in one season, this took Cape Stormer to a pointing record of played 41, won 21, at least according to the racecard stats. Given that they looked equally suspect in bravery under Rules, he is a good example of what Kjetil could have achieved. Gunner Be Quick and the veteran Chaucers Miller (still a year younger than the winner) also win their fair share, but cannot match Cape Stormer's strike rate. Chaucers Miller managed to lose six lengths on the first run round the horsebox bend, and had to be ridden, on and off, after that. Did he have a continuation wobble or just get outpaced? It was out of sight for most people.

Race 5: Spraytek Restricted
1: General Bob 2: Mandalay Bay
Winner owned: Mrs P Dod, trained: John Dufosee, ridden: Will White
This looked a below par Restricted to begin with, but we lost Sebber Bridge (some market support left him favourite with one or two bookies) to a bad blunder at the twelfth, and the jolly in most places, Heynewboy, pulled up lame after three out. This left two runners fighting a tight bout for the honours, which was decided two from the finish. Mandalay Bay, who was possibly going the better at the time - but it was at most a 55/45 call - made a bad mistake, which caused his rider to lose his irons. Lacking guidance from the saddle, Mandalay Bay hung off to the right hand rail, and had to be virtually pulled up in order to be directed over the last, rather than by-pass it. To get over and complete was a good job from the pilot, but as this unfolded General Bob had opened an unassailable lead. This was his second win in twelve runs, the other coming in a two horse race. With Mandalay Bay having pulled up in his last two and generally struggled all season, General Bob has probably exceeded his level, even in club and members races.

Race 6: Rutland Partners Open Maiden
1: Devils Arcade 2: Santarctique 3: Enmore Green
Winner owned & trained: Bill Smith, ridden: Jeremiah McGrath
A field of ten declared for this, but for some reason it seemed to have attracted a disproportionate number of under-sized horses, and looking at the form in the racecard did raise the doubt that the typesetter had spilled a tin of alphabetti spaghetti on the paper. The betting concurred in that verdict as the twelve year old Enmore Green was third in the market - rarely a sign of a quality maiden. Despite having had a few runs in Ireland and coming only third on his UK debut at this course, Devils Arcade did look at least vaguely like a racehorse, and he proved just too strong for his market rival Santarctique, who was a serial disappointer under Rules and has hardly set the world alight in points, but at least has finished three of four (brought down in the other). From Devils Arcade's perspective this was a lot easier than taking on rivals such as On Raglan Road and Tricky Trickster! This pair were a distance clear on the final turn, and Enmore Green just won a desperate plod for third against Tartan Flyer. Amazingly, given the form on show, two others managed to get round, even more hopelessly tailed off.

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