Godstone, 3/3/19

Mid Surrey Farmers Draghounds

This turned out to be a good meeting in terms of the racing but the threat of ferocioulsy bad weather discouraged many from turning up to watch it. Conditions only really got to Willie McKay degrees of unpleasantness for the last couple of races, so we need to persuade people not to believe everything they read and to turn up and find out for themselves. Covering all topics, we have only been demanding this for a hundred years or so, which means that we can hope that the corner will be turned shortly. Meanwhile, there was time for a nice chat with the owners of Sea Wall, a horse that got a big thumbs up from this site in his racing days but is now retired thanks to a tendon injury.

Going: Good (at best) to begin with but deteriorating through the afternoon

Race 1: Retraining Of Racehorses Conditions, 10 year olds and up

1: Excitable Island     2: Glint Of Steel     3: Velvet Cognac

Winner owned & trained: NW Padfield, ridden: Gina Andrews

This attracted fourteen runners from a very healthy entry, and it was a competitive bunch, but some of the possible winners who sat off of the early pace never found a way to bring themselves into practical contention. This type of race should attract some old favourites and Excitable Island definitely fits that bill. His wins last season were a High Easter double and a Cheltenham hunter chase, and he had been fourth in a hunter chase to tune up his 2019 campaign. This race turned into a comfortable exercise, leading from an early stage and then gradually cranking up the pressure after he cleared the open ditch for the last time. Glint Of Steel, showing the benefit of his Charing pipe opener, was closing in a vaguely threatening manner until the Excitable Island turbo cut in. The winner is not past it for Open company yet, and perhaps the second is not either. Velvet Cognac, lacking a run this season faded from the third last, but had the measure of Generous Ransom and Thomas Junior coming belatedly for a place. The pair officially dead heated for fourth, but UK-Jumping's spot on the line made it look like Generous Ransom held on, for what it is worth (£25 according to the race conditions). One Big Love was doing well until he blundered at the twelfth fence and made everything difficult subsequently. A bunch of horses that finished behind Glint Of Steel at Charing were further behind this time and will likely continue to be in any future encounters.

Race 2: Friends Of Carryonharry PPORA Members, Veteran & Novice Riders

1: Kashmir Peak     2: Willflywontsink    3: Victory Hill

Winner owned: Neville Cherriman & Dan Cherriman, trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Dan Cherriman

A race commemorating the fine old grey genius of the south-east, although as he raced until he was seventeen perhaps the older horses race that came before it would have been more appropriate. The similarity with the first event was an easy front-running success for Kashmir Peak, even though the sun did not beat down upon his face as he travelled through both time and space. He did manage to avoid any air force miscommunications with India or Pakistan, and his nearest challenger, Adept Approach, came down at the second last fence. At the time it was going to need a Kashmir Peak faux pas to let Adept Approach in for a win. Willflywontsink could have unnecessarily sustained the metaphor with current India-Pakistan political tensions but her lack of a recent run told from the fifteenth fence and she was preoccupied with disputing second against Victory Mill, who plays the role of China in this scenario. Play your geopolitics – or their analogies - in the shadows of the North Downs, or do not play them at all.

Race 3: Investec Wealth & Investment Mixed Open

1: Kalabaloo     2: Arbeo

Winner owned: Mrs Shona Westrope, trained: Tom Ellis, ridden: Gina Andrews

Only two out of seven starters finished this, and it seemed as if Arbeo may have been on the verge of stopping when Dont Do Mondays and Celtic Thunder took the safe option and pulled up around fence fifteen. Celtic Thunder's claim to fame is being subject of a massive market plunge at Fontwell last August and downing tools after about a hundred metres. A repeat sulk at Plumpton ended that interlude in handicap chases but he was much sweeter in points here, at least up to the moment he gave up. Dont Do Mondays had been rather zonked out by his flu booster jab and should be better for having the race under his belt. Getting back to Arbeo, he inherited another finishing position when Cloudy Bob fell two out, At the time Cloudy Bob was harrassing the winner quite seriously. He was odds against to actually overtake Kalabaloo but it was a sound display anyway as Kalabaloo has only lost two of her eight pointing runs - both at the start of last season when the stable was not steaming on full ahead. The other loss was third place in the Red Mills Intermediate Series final Hunter Chase at Cheltenham. So there is not any need to be overly critical of the horses that could not beat her today.

Race 4: The Oriental Club Restricted

1: The Unmentionable     2: Desert Retreat

Winner owned: J Close, S Hunter & D Peters, trained & ridden: Dale Peters

Due to waterlogging in the racecard the notes could be interpreted as the same horse pulled up at the ninth fence and also won, but as the horse concerned was Zarliman, conspicuously advertising some sort of clown act in red cheekpieces and a black noseband, the identification of him as the one that pulled up is 100% certain. The winner, whose naming we will endeavour to honour, took the lead with a lap to go and went clear before the third last. At the line the margin to Desert Reatret was about seven lengths, but that was down to the leader easing to a walk on the run-in. Amongst the non-finishers were two who did interestingly despite needing the run. Almost There raced aggressively until she was almost there (if there equals fence fifteen) at which point she pulled up. Steel The China (eyecatching name, but usually it is China doing the stealing - copyrights, patented technology, everyone else's natural resources south of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea etc etc). Last season, his first in racing, got results of P1 and this time he is FP but giving the impression that there is more to offer than a splurge of letters. Dontdillydally was reunited with Will Hickman, who coaxed an unlikely win out of her at Aldington on a day when she was especially ill-behaved. This stronger race broke the magic.

Race 5: Burden Bros Agri Ltd Open Maiden

1: Indirocco     2: Shanoule Wood     3: Winola

Winner owned: K Loads, J Docker & Mrs N Fields, trained: Tom Ellis, ridden: Gina Andrews

All day we had witnessed front running pay off (or get to the front by halfway if not able to lead early) and it was more or less true here, although there were two or three short early stretches when Indirocco was headed. As is common here, the race was put to bed bar the jumping on the downhill section next to the A25. Indirocco did take the last slowly, but the damage had been inflicted on the enemy by then. Shanoule Wood is a good yardstick for the form, but between Britain and Ireland her run of finishing second, third or fourth is ominously long and looking unlikely to be broken soon. Winola was hard at work for the entire final lap and the placed horses may have owed their slots to Sarah Marie who was going better than them when she unseated at the open ditch four out, bringing All Is Well to a halt in the process.

Race 6: Albert Hall Dance Floors Conditions

1: Florella     2: Always A Chance

Winner owned: Mrs PA Wilkins & Phil Hall, trained: Cynthia Woods, ridden: Charlie Marshall

A disappointingly low entry led to a race that only had three horses turned up, which was the same number of bookmakers that hung around for the race (they used to be made of sterner stuff) and only a slightly larger number of punters. The odd thing was that the race was quite punter friendly. Not long before the off, the betting was 5/4 Always A Chance and Florella, with 2/1 for Gersjoeycasey. None of the trio had a race so far this season and Always A Chance definitely had the shape of a horse that needed the race. Florella was fitter than Gersjoeycasey, so making a selection was quite easy. The race was not such a simple procession. Florella jumped off to a clear lead but both times that she passed the horsebox park she tried to pull herself up. The second time around the other pair drew alongside but once the appealingly dry option of being inside a lorry was outside her line of sight, Florella was fine drew well clear again. Always A Chance was struggling and just in third when Gersjoeycasey unseated at the open ditch.
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