Wednesday 17th May 2000
by Mal Davies

The Welsh Borders region came to a soggy, slippery end at Brampton on Wednesday evening, with small fields, a walkover, and eventually an abandonment. The fixture had been waterlogged off in April, and despite the sterling efforts of the organising hunt, and a good turn out of spectators and bookmakers, the replacement fixture was beset by difficulties in running, leading to an early finish.

It was the usual dangerous combination of heavy rain on firm ground which led to the main problem of horses slipping up at either end of the circuit which caused the stewards to call a halt before the maiden races were run.

The three runner hunt race was won by a comfortable seven lengths by Mike Hammond on Cwm Bye from Stormhill Recruit and Steve Blackwell before the drama began to unfold in the Confined race. Only four went to post for this heat but hot favourite The Rum Mariner and Candy Thomas slipped up on the first bend, leaving Andrew Dalton and the previous Saturday’s Bredwardine winner, Good For A Loan to dominate his only real challenger, Illiney Lad (Adrian Wintle) for a quick double. After running for most of the season as if retirement beckoned, the thirteen year old has ended the season with a flourish.

There were only three runners again in the Men’s Open, and the rank outsider of the three, Hurricane Andrew won well in the famous Flakey Dove colours from odds on favourite Nevada Gold with Watchit Lad, who never became competitive, a disappointing third for Blackwell.

After yet another Intermediate race walkover, this time for Ivor Owens’s lunatic Merger Mania and Mark Trott, Candy Thomas and The Rum Mariner were quickly back in action and won a very eventful Ladies’ race by thirty lengths. The margin of victory, however, does little justice to the story of the race. Four horses were declared, and Everso Irish departed at the first before the well fancied Zingibar slipped up on a bend depositing Julie Houldey on the sodden turf.
On the final circuit, Sophie Talbot asserted by ten lengths on Military Man and had a winning lead on the final turn before he took the wrong the course by missing a marker, thus allowing The Rum Mariner to lead unchallenged to the line and to atone for his earlier spill. For the record, Military Man retraced his steps, got back on course and came in second, before Sophie Talbot was relieved of 65 by the stewards for not looking where she was going!

Richard Burton was the next jockey to take a tumble, in his case from True Fred on the same bend which had accounted for Candy Thomas earlier. The winner of that race, the Restricted was Tim Stephenson on hot favourite Coddington Girl. Stephenson, who had recently celebrated his 100th winner in points, had no more than a steering job to see off outsider Hugo Henry (Mark Trott), with everything else floundering.

Following Burton’s fall, the stewards then sensibly abandoned the meeting. With two maiden races left to run, and inexperienced horses in both, they had little choice, and the local season ended on a rather damp and dismal note.