Gelligaer Farmers at BONVILSTON
Saturday 13th May April 2000
by Ian Protheroe

A glorious afternoon – superb weather, good crowds and good ground which brought out large fields of runners. The afternoon had turned to early evening by the time the last race went off, as the restricted and both divisions of the maidens had to be split on the day. However, there was still a good number of spectators who stayed right to the end, determined to make the best of the good weather which has been missing in our part of South Wales for many weeks. The hero of the day was local rider Evan Williams, who rode a four timer.

The opening hunt race was contested by only four runners, but was very entertaining despite the small field. The odds on favourite was JO JO’S BEST FRIEND, an improving horse who had won a restricted at Tweseldown on the opening day of the season, and had followed up with an intermediate win at Lydstep three weeks ago. However, there was a fair amount of confidence on the course for MARISOL, a winner of a maiden at the same Lydstep meeting from subsequent winner Eveies Boy. Evan Williams rode Marisol from the front throughout the race, drawing away from Jo Jo’s Best Friend after the second last. MISTER JAY DAY took second place on the run-in.

Eleven runners went to post in the Intermediate race, which proved to be the most exciting races of the day, and probably the best race I have seen this season. The uneasy favourites in the market were CRESSWELL QUAY and DETROIT DAVY, but the betting ring showed that the rest of the field was evenly matched. In the event, neither favourite figured in the finish, which saw four horses finish within two lengths of each other and the next two finishers only five lengths behind. A handicapper would have been proud of such a finish! The result went to ROMAN GALE, ridden by Andrew Price, who won narrowly from RUSNETTO, STORM MAN and RUSTY BUCK, but these three can all take credit despite their defeat.

In the Confined, ANORAK, ridden by Christian Williams followed up his victory at Bassaleg last week. All of Anorak’s wins have come on right-handed tracks, and it will be interesting to see if he can continue in his consistent form over the next two weeks with another meeting at Bassaleg and another meeting at Bonvilston to come. The joint favourite with Anorak was KRISTAL HAZE, which fell early, and so Anorak was able to win fairly comfortably in the end from PERSIAN MYSTIC and YOUNG MANNY. This was Christian Williams’ thirteenth win of the season.

GUNNER BOON went off odds on favourite in the Mixed Open under Pip Jones. However, there was a lot of support again for Evan Williams on CREAM SUPREME, twice a course and distance winner. Gunner Boon went off in front, but Cream Supreme always looked as if he could pick the leader off when he liked. This proved to be the case at the second last fence where he took the lead and went on to win comfortably.

The Restricted was divided on the day. In the first division, the best turned out award went to the nine year old STAR CHASER, and this turned out to be a significant omen for the race itself. Star Chaser won impressively from MECCA PRINCE, which overtook SEVENTH SYMPHONY on the run-in. This was a much improved performance from Seventh Symphony, which was wearing a tonguestrap for the first time and could be worth following in future races. Division two of the restricted was won by Evan Williams on the favourite ABSENT CITIZEN. Much had been hoped for this horse when it was bought from Ireland having won its maiden there, and Absent Citizen finally delivered in impressive style from ITSCINDERS ridden by Jamie Jukes. (The fastest division was the race won by Star Chaser, around 6 seconds faster than Absent Citizen)

Division 1 of the Maiden was further divided into 2 parts. Part 1 went to WELSH WARRIOR, who had fallen when leading at Bassaleg last week. Although Welsh Warrior was favourite, a lot of money appeared to go on the 10 year old RICHES TO RAGS, who races under a Kyre Bloodhounds Hunt certificate. In the event, the two pulled well away from the rest of the field with Welsh Warrior winning by five lengths under Tim Vaughan. Part 2 of the race became something of a war of attrition, with only 2 horses left in the race with half a mile left. The race gave Evan Williams his fourth winner of the day when PULL ON outstayed MISSION LORD under Christian Williams. (incidentally, Evan and Christian are not related!).

Part 1 of Division 2 of the maiden went to a raider from across the border, with LUCKY JIM, ridden by Kate Lovelace, coming up from the South Dorset hunt to win from ITSARCHIE. It should have been obvious that connections wouldn't have brought this horse here for nothing, but `us locals` thought we knew better. This course quite often attracts horses from England, but with meetings at Bredwardine and Holnicote on the same day they must have gone there!

Part 2 of the race went to the favourite GET THE GIST, ridden by Paul Hamer, who conjured a renewed run out of his horse to catch SING CHERRY RIPE ridden by Tasha Stephens, on the run-in. Sing Cherry Ripe is one of those infuriating horses which always seems to run well without actually winning, but must surely lose her maiden status soon.

And so finally, we all went home. Credit must go to the Gelligaer Farmers Hunt for the excellent atmosphere that they seem to create at their meetings – there doesn't seem to be any of the "elitist" element that you get at some hunts, and it makes townies like me feel more welcome.

Next week, Tredegar Farmers at Bassaleg. I believe that watering is an option here if required. Traditionally, this is the last meeting of the South and West Wales region, but postponements have meant that there are still 2 meetings to go. This meeting also quite often attracts the top riders from England, trying to get winners for the various championships. Bassaleg is just off the M4 near Newport. The course has fantastic views of the area as well as excellent viewing for spectators, and I thoroughly recommend that you forget the Cup Final and come and watch the racing instead