Charing, 15/4/17

Ashford Valley Tickham

The most common story for Easter Saturday. Fast ground, not a huge number of runners (although a promising start could not be sustained), a massive crowd. As with Godstone last week, every horse gets a mention, just for showing up. It is some sort of communal appreciation society thing.

Going: Good to Firm

Race 1: Shepherd Neame Open Maiden

1: Roll Of The Dice     2: Miss North Light     3: Ididandididn’t

Winner owned: Mrs Ruth Arnold, trained: Nick Pearce, ridden: Charlie Marshall

Roll Of The Dice (1st): Luck has not been on his side so far, being brought down here and falling in his next race. Through all of this he had left the impression that the engine would be fine when given the chance, and he got off of the mark here. There was a scare when he hit the last fence quite hard, and the final margin was only a length and a half, but it does look that there is still better to come.

Miss North Light (2nd): Left racing under Rules having definitely shown winning ability, yet somehow not managed to actually do such a radical thing as beat all of the opposition on any given day. Her pointing debut on New Year’s Eve confirmed that view, yet she had pulled up twice since. They were on softer ground and she has now been runner-up twice on good to firm, which augurs well for late season races.

Ididandididn’t (3rd) running for the Empire: Ran what is becoming his usual race. He led, and although tending to jump right this time, all the others followed, so he lost nothing by doing so. Until, that is, he lost his position at the top of the hill – just like here before and Whitfield. With the jumping straightening with those in front to guide him, he fought back well, and was only a neck away from second place.

Rainbow Stripes (4th): Approached the final fence as the likeliest option to finish second, and ended up fourth without doing anything notably wrong. He had made a bad blunder at fence sixteen and possibly it had just drained enough energy to sabotage his finishing burst.

Little Herbie (5th): Although he had appeared in the entries before now, this was his first actual race, and he had a significant experience disadvantage against the others, although not all of their experiences had been pleasurable ones. There were a couple of novicey errors, but he was not all that far behind in fifth, and it was a respectable debut overall. *** Correction - appears to have pulled up before the last, but still a reasonable debut in a stronger race than this is most Easters ***

Race 2: Charles Stanley PPORA Club Members, Veteran & Novice Riders, 2m 4f

1: Letskeepit Simple     2: Next Surprise     3: Gersjoeycasey

Winner owned: Michael Deasley, trained: Ian Cobb, ridden: Ella Gillings

Letskeepit Simple (1st): Continues his so far successful campaign to prevent prizes being awarded for consistency, but with a seasonal record of P1P2P1, he has introduced a dangerous degree of predictability to what he does. He joined the front running Next Surprise at the final fence and put a vast length and a half between them on the short run-in. Somebody somewhere has the knowledge to forecast him accurately, but tribal wizards in the wilds of Borneo tend to have a limited interest in point-to-points, and the information is not being revealed (except perhaps to some very puzzled local villagers).

Next Surprise (2nd): Tried to make all of the running and burn off the opposition. For five out of the six the plan worked perfectly, and the exception proved too good for him. This is his ideal distance, and whilst he looked very sluggish at the end, his mid-race departure at Penshurst meant that this was his first proper race since January 2016.

Gersjoeycasey (3rd): Although finishing second, he was beaten a long way last week on his seasonal debut. The question was how much he could be brought along in such a short time? The answer is not a great deal, as he only just trundled on past the struggling Noble Commander for third place.

Noble Commander (4th): Fourteen years old and without a threatening performance for some time, he plodded on steadily late in the race, but still could not pinch third at the end of it. He was not much closer the winner than usual.

Unwanted Gift (5th): Came out worst of the trio battling for the minor prize, but ran a bit better than that, as at the fourth last he was clear of the remainder on the heels of the first two. Unfortunately for him, when his effort took a toll, he weakened very quickly, hence the couple that stole the third prize from his faltering grip.

Saqil (Unseated): Started out this pointing season without a race in more than four years, and inevitably did not do anything of note first time back. Nor the second. And not third either, as he was tailed off when unseating.

Not Til Monday (PU): Looked in need of this first race of the season, and was struggling to find a completion last year. Therefore the end result of pulling up was just as would have been predicted. If he ever does recover his best hurdles form, he would still struggle to stay further than this.

Race 3: Subaru Restricted

1: Spiritofchartwell     2: Macdougal     3: Leafy Arbour

Winner owned: Richard Gurney, trained & ridden: Phil York

Spiritofchartwell (1st): His career has always been one of showing ability but not stamina. This is not the ideal course for a horse with those characteristics. It looked like more of the same was coming his way, but the most serious danger decided to run out three fences from the finish, and from there it was plain sailing. He was even able to be eased late in the race without coming to a complete stop.

Macdougal (2nd): A bit old to be suddenly winning Restricteds, his best runs did give him a glimmer of hope in this race. He inherited third place descending the hill, and kept on stoutly to translate it into second place.

Leafy Arbour (3rd): At the moment he is struggling to achieve his ambition to unseat his rider more times than any other horse in history, having done so only twice this season. In this case the horse did his bit by ignoring a fence completely at about halfway, but Ray Glennon clung on in a mix of inspiration and desperation. Leafy Arbour has turned up in enough Restricteds to not really think of him winning one after so many failures, but can we really say that he will never find a small field version that is within his powers? ***Go to and look for this meeting and then Leafy Arbour to see just how bad the error was***

Minmore Present (ran out): Settled at the back initially, made his way to the front and then seemed to have control of the race when he jinked left and ran out at fence seventeen. He has been a bit inconsistent over his Irish and British career, but there had not been past signs of wishing to impose a regime of anarchy on his races.

Did You Ever (pulled up): Pootled around in rear, lost touch from the fourteenth and pulled up – more of a pulled himself up - three fences from the finish, all on conditions that he usually relishes. This is his last season before retirement, and apparently the idea of going out in a blaze of glory was not on the agenda.
Spiritofchartwell has won his Restricted and now looks a bit apprehensive about what the future may hold for him.

Race 4: Tom Hills Memorial Mixed Open

1: The Gunner Brady     2: Crack Of Thunder     3: Brand Ambassador

Winner owned: The Profligate Partners, trained: Tracey Bailey, ridden: Phil York

The Gunner Brady (1st): Started a short priced favourite, which was expected but possibly under estimated the runner-up. He was patiently ridden but had taken control coming down the hill by the A20. Then he nearly threw it away. There was a bit of hesitation approaching the last and he gave it a hefty clout. Phil York always looked like staying in the plate, but Crack Of Thunder was rallying hard and only failed to get up by a head. Another possible factor in the last fence error was a car horn being sounded nearby just as he approached it. Hopefully an accident and not somebody being a tool of the first order.

Crack Of Thunder (2nd): The lack of a win this season counts as a bit disappointing, but he has now finished second or third in his last five races, on all sorts of ground. Today he was just edged out by a better horse, but if he keeps turning out and giving it a shot, the Open win will come, perhaps even more than one.

Brand Ambassador (3rd): He and the winner let Crack Of Thunder get on with making the running, but the difference came around fence fourteen, when The Gunner Brady kicked on, but this one got a bit outpaced. Whilst he never seemed a threat after that, the final margin of loss was only three lengths, and represented his best run of the season, except possibly his fourth at Larkhill in January against some potentially top notch Open class horses. He seems to be going in the right direction and like the runner-up success is a viable ambition.
The Gunner Brady (near side) keeps the rallying Crack Of Thunder mostly out of shot because he wants less irrelevant pictures on this website. He is destined to be disappointed.

Race 5: Crawfords Ltd South East Hunts Club Members Conditions

1: Merrydown Vintage     2: Iheardu

Winner owned & trained: Ray Fielder, ridden: Phil York

Merrydown Vintage (1st): In a race where two reasonably youthful horses were ridden by a couple of ultra veteran riders, he made all of the running and was never challenged by his rival. So it was not a scintillating event, and all went according to expectation.

Iheardu (2nd): An Open class winner in 2014, he has not really fired since his return from having the following year off – although he had won a Members race. This was just an example of going through the motions for second place, but he is only eleven years old, and some form of revival is still possible.
Merrydown Vintage leads Iheardu – the whole race encapsulated in one brief moment.

Race 6: Mount Mascal Stables Members

1: Dont Do Mondays     2: Orfeo Conti     3: Kaybeew

Winner owned: Mrs Ruth Arnold, trained: Nick Pearce, ridden: Will Hickman

Dont Do Mondays (1st): Probably don’t do fast ground either but got away with it, and for a horse that won over 2m 6.5f up the hill at Leicester, he has not relished three miles as much as would have been hoped. He was not going to be outsprinted by the runner-up when that horse hit the last, but the win was a job done in unimpressive fashion.

Orfeo Conti (2nd): Even at the age of fifteen he still races with a bit of zest on good days, something that has never certain to happen at any stage during his career. He was giving the winner something to think about after the second last, but a mistake at the final fence knocked his assault on the head.

Kaybeew (3rd): Has been well off of the boil for quite some time, and after getting outpaced from an early stage, he completed in his own time. That time involved doing three miles in the span normally reserved for 3m 6f races.
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