GREEN WINTER CANTERS HOME IN CRUDWELL CUP CLASSIC
The threatening weather conditions relented for the Radnor & West Hereford Hunt meeting at Cold Harbour after a drizzly morning, leaving the well-prepared course with ideal jumping ground, officially 'Good'. Clerk of the course, Alan Rogers and the 'Radnors' team of organisers were praised often for their labours and the full card spoke volumes of their success., and as the afternoon progressed, the crowd swelled to excellent proportions.
The eight-race card was preceded by three pony races, efficiently arranged by Pauline Duggan, which are ever growing in popularity with crowd and competitors alike.
The Tallis Amos Group Members race was a joint affair to also combine members of the Teme Valley and United Hunts, and it was Midnight Haze, ridden by Elizabeth Reynolds who justified favouritism to take early control and head the 8 runners home, holding the late challenge of Gentle Duke (Peter Bryan). 'My Horse of a Lifetime' was how Lizzie described the 14 year-old, who may be retired after this victory.
The Caldicott & DV Watkins Confined race was a spirited battle between Russian Empire (James King) and Tim's Crusader (Jeremy Mahot) with Invisible Man (Phine Banks) and the favourite, Blackmill breathing down their necks. But Russian Empire dug deep, and surged 3 lengths clear up the run in, delighting trainer and part-owner, Claire Lloyd-Davies.
Jodie Hughes made her first visit to Cold Harbour a memorable one when Roger Wilcox's Patricktom Boru put in an 'awesome' round of jumping to head the Rucker's consistent gelding, Get It On (Sarah Bowen) by 11/2 lengths in the Maygothling Waste Ltd Ladies Open Race. Her obvious pleasure at the 9-year old's performance put a smile on everyone's face.
The Angel Inn, Kingsland Open Maiden race avoided division by one runner, so it was a full complement that thundered from the start. There were still a good handful in contention two fences from home, but it was the Johnathon Tudor-trained 5 year-old, Blazing Tom (Richard Patrick) who came clear of the quirky but talented Jungle Legend (Matthew Barber), with Heather Dalton's What About Molly (Paddy Gerety) in 3rd.
Former champion point-to-point rider, John Bryan, is making his mark as a trainer, as did his father before him, the great horseman, Bill Bryan. John looked unusually nervous before the four mlle Area Classic race, the Jaques International Ltd Crudwell Cup, but he need not have worried. Green Winter, the handsome 8 year-old owned by Sarah Oliver and Sharon Wilson, who is so rarely out of the first two, lobbed behind the front-running Wogan (Jeremy Mahot) for the first couple of miles with Zac Baker before cruising to victory by 15 lengths from Schindlers Prince (James Ridley). Green Winter has been painstakingly produced by connections, reflected by John's response when questioned about future plans. "We thought about Cheltenham this year for him, but decided it was a year too soon."
John was also responsible for the winner of Division 2 of the Leominster Contruction Ltd Restricted race, when Julia Oakey's Detank obliged under a masterful ride from Phil York, his only engagement of the meeting. Division 1 was an impressive 20 lengths win for David Maxwell's French-bred 5 year-old, Brice Canyon, trained by Kim Smyly. "He's a little bit quirky at home, but fine on the racecourse!"
Richard Eckley was keen to point out that this was the first two and a half mile Restricted race in the Welsh Border area, which 'The Radnors' had provided as a natural progression for the winning maidens over that distance, and the fact that it was so fully subscribed that it had to be divided had well-rewarded the initiative.
The Bredon Aggregates 'Young Horse' Maiden over two and a half miles was a Goffs Spring Sales P2P Bumper Qualifier and was another field just below the safety factor. The French-bred 4 year-old Cuirassier Dempire (Zac Baker) put in a mature round of jumping and made the most of his weight allowance, cantering home 6 lengths clear of another 4 year-old, Norman Crow (Hannah Watson). The winner is owned by Heather Haddock and trained by Sophie Lacey at Woolhope. This double, his second of the weekend, secured Zac Baker the Leading Rider of the Meeting award.
The last race was followed by a 10-runner Hunt Scurry over a circuit of the course (excluding the open ditch), and it was another copybook ride by 17 year-old student, Lucy Hammond on her Thoroughbred, Milled for second victory in these popular events. The first non-thoroughbred was Jane O' Brien's skewbald former eventer, pipping local farrier, James Stephenson.
A very successful meeting that 'The Radnors' should be justly proud of.