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Ampton, 12/1/20

Dunston Harriers

I once had a dream of being at Ampton for a point-to-point and it was not windy, but that dream suddenly ended, as they all do when hitting an impossible paradox. Still, it was not cold as well today and a good crowd enjoyed watching the dark clouds agther but arrive too late.

Going: Good, Good to Soft places

Race 1: Jockey Club & Retraining Of Racehorses Veteran Horses

1: Just Cause     2: After Hours     3: Minella Friend

Winner owned & trained: Simon Stearn, ridden: Rupert Stearn

In the last couple of years Just Cause has been doing some winning stuff under a veteran rider but once he called it quits, a new jockey was keen to snap him up. Just Cause delivered his part of the deal first time, sneaking home from After Hours, who was placed in Open level late last season. For a while it appeared as if Just Cause was not going to find enough from the second last to come home in front but when he got motoring in the last hundred metres, After Hours ran out of time. But not by enough to open a window of place opportunities to the clump that were just behind him. Minella Friend always used to be a horse to put up a good show first time out but the last two pointing season had seen him drop that policy, although he did win the novice riders' race on this card in 2019 thanks to a tune up at Hexham. It would be unastonishing to see him go to Thorpe Lodge next and try for a repeat win there too. Generous Ransom was looking a danger three out but by the time the post came he had been relegated to fifth, with Ballycahane struggling past him on the run-in. Last season was a disappointing winless one for Generous Ransom and other than the losing distance being modest, this was a bad omen for the rest of 2020.
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In addition to these colours, Just Cause and black with white crossbelts. It was not easy to pick them out at the furthest part of the course. The ones in pictures are, left to right, Oscar O'Scar, Wood Pigeon, King Willie, Finnegan's Hollow (a bit of a fnarr fnarr pairing) and After Hours.

Race 2: Philpott Demolition Open Maiden

1: Huntsmans Jog     2: On Parole     3: Mount Corbitt

Winner owned & trained: Don Cantillon, ridden: Liam Harrison

Having not been devoid of ability in bumpers and hurdles, Huntsmans Jog started favourite for the three mile maiden at Cottenham two weeks earlier but was doomed to a place only when unseating late on. He did not repeat the foolishness, going to the front three out and effortlessly putting more than thirty lengths back to the rest. On Parole had been very patiently ridden but lasted out the race better than most, not hitting second place until the run-in. The nature of the race had been made awkward by No Gale who went clear at the second and increased the lead after a lap. Initially none of the others were suckered into this silliness, but eventually Mount Corbitt tentatively crept forwards and joined the leader. By fence sixteen the runners had clumped up again but the slow motion finish behind Huntsmans Jog implied that he was the only horse doing all this within his comfort zone.
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A rare sunlit interlude inspires Mount Corbitt to surge for home, No Gale comes next with Huntsmans Jog smugly noodling along in third

Race 3: Pearn Wyatt & Son Mixed Open

1: Tullys Touch     2: Chosen Rose     3: Full Irish

Winner owned: MIss Christina Blockley, trained: John Ibbott, ridden: Jack Andrews

The main attraction from the entries, Hazel Hill, went to Sheriff Hutton instead - boo! The remaining contingent only numbered four, but it was competitive enough stuff and at their best a case could easily be made for any of them as the winner. Hawkhurst dug out an unseat at fence eleven but the other three continued to go round in a very cautious of cat and mouse and mouse-cat hybrid. It resulted in a notably slow time, with Tullys Touch able to quicken up the best of them from the third last. Full Irish, initially outpaced, was making a bit of fightback when blundering at the final fence, which handed second place back to Chosen Rose (about to lose her record of never out of the first two in British points) and made life much easier for the winner.

Race 4: Syngenta Restricted

1: Occupied     2: Taboo     3: Racing Eagle

Winner owned: Max Young Racing Club, trained: Max Youung, ridden: Sam Lee

This race only had eight entries but six of them came to Ampton for a race and gave it a potential to be respectably competitive. Facing the home straight it had cut down to only a pair of horses seriously entertaining victory. Occupied had won a small field maiden last season and not yet got going in this level but he seemed to be getting the better of the scrap when Hard Ground walloped the second last and unseated, rather spoiling a British debut that was being really quite acceptable. Beneficiary of this nuisance was Taboo, whose Ffos Las win a month back was her twenty-seventh run. However it was only her second in British pointing and a very close third at the first Cottenham meeting hinted that the new connections had found something to work on that had not previously been used elsewhere. Shark Suarez was racing for the first time in just over two years, and he had twenty-one months off before that. This spin was understandably needed and he pulld up after just over two miles - will we see him again before 2022?

Race 5: Loveday & Partners Intermediate

1: Dream Doc     2: Fox Valley     3: Somme Boy

Winner owned & trained: Caroline Fryer, ridden: Kate Gowing

Six entries was a more downbeat prospect than for the Restricted, but five of them ran. It produced the close finish that almost emerged from race four. It was Dream Doc who held on having made the running. She was the only horse not being niggle along at fence seventeen but Fox Valley proved to be a very a determined challenger, although she had squeezed in a run (and a triumph) at Cottenham already this season and Dream Doc was having her first run after the summer off. Somme Boy won first time out last season but it was only a two horse race and he was beaten four times afterwards. He got a bit outpaced with a lap to go this time and plugged on without threatening to be all that close to the main action.
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Dream Doc flies the first fence in the back straight. Sommervieu, the grey, is just big more suspicious of trolls or goblins lurking on the other side. Fox Valley is on the far side of him.

Race 6: PPORA Club Members Novice Riders', 6 year olds and up

1: After Aspen     2: Sounds Of Italy     3: Trojan Star

Winner owned: LJH Racing Club, trained: Laura Horsfall, ridden: Luke Scott

Utter chaos to close a previously sensible day. The fence at the far end of the track was omitted due to the sun, as usual belated decision when the horses were at the start which could have been made fifteen minutes earlier. The twelve runners got quite spread out early on and it did appear that on the first circuit some horses bypassed the fence to the left, when the arrows indicated that they should go to the right. At the distance and angle, it was not certain which horses were affected, but they were towards the back at the time and Perfect Pirate's jockey seemed to realised and pulled up before the eighth - but trotted down the hill to check the circumstances. When the field aproached the line it was still quite close and on a day when commentator Jonathon Crispe had tended to sit on the fence when clling tight finishes due to his imperfect angle, he got confident on this one, called Knight Bachelor the winner and was caught out when the judge gave it to After Aspen. In the ensuing Stewards' Enquiry disqualification came for Knight Batchelor (pass the post second), Amigo (passed the post fourth) and Minerfortyniner (passed the post seventh). That is trouble with racing - nobody ever makes a decision after posing the question "what could possibly go wrong?" It should be noted that going the wrong way around the fence was extra distance, but then again it was less crowded out there. here.
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Amigo has a false dawn at the front of the race, followed by Minerfortyniner and Knight Bachelor comes next. What an accidentally significant picture... Global Power is the distant but accurate one.
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