Llangibby at HOWICK
Sunday 2nd April 2000
by Ian Protheroe

It was rather a dull, wet drive along the M4 from my Vale of Glamorgan home to Howick, only a couple of miles from Chepstow racecourse, but by the time we reached our venue the persistent drizzle had mainly stopped. The going was described by the jockeys as "good", although patches of the course were on the firm side following the drying winds earlier in the week. This meant that conditions were largely similar to the Curre meeting held on the same course two weeks ago, and probably as a result of this there were a number of horses entered which had been successful at that meeting.

The opening Hunt race was once again won by Llangibby favourite ARCHER, ridden by Andrew Price. Now a 12 year old, Archer was pressed by his three opponents for much of the race, but finally showed his superior class after the second last to easily justify his 1/3 favouritism.

The following restricted brought a quick double for Andrew Price on LILLIEPLANT, an 8 year old mare who won her maiden over this course two weeks ago. Once again Andrew Price employed front running tactics on Lillieplant, and despite being left quite badly at the start when 4 or 5 horses shied away from the tape, was soon in front and dominating her rivals. After promising much over the last couple of years this mare may be on the upgrade. The 3 horses which chased Lillieplant home, WINNING TOWN, KAY`S LASS and MECCA PRINCE all showed some potential, particularly the latter, only a 5 year old ridden by schoolboy James Tudor for his father John.

The confined turned out to be a very competitive race. The odds on favourite was ARDELL BOY, a successful Hunter chaser from the neighbouring Berkley Hunt. Unfortunately, Ardell Boy was pulled up injured before completing a circuit, leaving the much improved TIGER LORD to set the pace. However, a perfectly timed run by David Stephens aboard YOU MAKE ME LAUGH took the race at the last fence, with a running on again Tiger Lord, a lucky winner of a restricted here two weeks ago in second. The trainer and usual rider of You Make Me Laugh is Evan Williams, who remains sidelined following a heavy fall at Howick two weeks ago which needed 5 days in hospital. He hopes to return soon.

Only 4 horses lined up for the Marsh UK Ltd/ Mares Club Race. Although 3 of these horses were initially close in the betting, the shade odds-on favourite AFRICAN WARRIOR, ridden by last years’ top novice Christian Williams, shook off the effects of unseating her rider in the Grand Military at Sandown earlier in the week to easily account for Evan Williams’ BIT OF A CITIZEN, with QUESTIONAIRE back in third.

The highlight of the day (for me) was the performance of KARABURAN in the mixed open. I had successfully backed this gelding against the odds-on favourites twice in Ladies’ Opens in recent weeks, including a victory at this course two weeks ago over Warren Boy. Karaburan has lacked a little consistency despite showing potential, which is probably to be expected from a 6 year old. However, Fiona Wilson seems to have developed a good relationship with him, and again held him together to bring him with a well timed run to win from SWINGING SIXTIES, ridden by Archie St. George. According to the racecourse commentator, Swinging Sixties’ only winning form has come in a flat race. If he continues to run in this form he will surely be winning soon between the flags. Surely, Karaburan will go Hunter Chasing soon?

By the start of the maidens the drizzle, which had been around all afternoon, was beginning to get into the ground, taking any firm patches out of it. Division 1 was won by the favourite PRESUMING ED, giving Andrew Price a treble. Presuming Ed was chased home by LE VIENNA, an 11 year old well known to regular Point-to-Point watchers from South Wales as having run for so many years in maidens without success! It is therefore difficult to know how good this form is for Presuming Ed, but I like to think that it was a much-improved performance from Le Vienna, who was ridden by David Stephens rather than his owner on this day.

Division 2 of the maiden produced the most dramatic finish of the day, with JULIES JOY keeping the race after a steward’s enquiry. Julies Joy jumped consistently to the right on this left-handed track, making things extremely difficult for her rider and trainer Ian Johnson. She must have been losing 4 or 5 lengths at every fence, but was making up ground on the flat. Ian Johnson had kept the horse to the outside all of the way around the course, but when approaching the last was challenged on the outside by MARNIE’S SONG. This resulted in Marnie`s Song being brought down, and so the Stewards were obliged to investigate after Julies Joy held off second favourite BETH’s GIFT on the run in. Both Beth’s Gift and Marnie’s Song should be winning soon, while a right handed galloping track will surely bring out the best in Julies Joy.