Godstone, 9/4/17

Southdown & Eridge

With barely fifty entries over six races, and good to firm ground certain, it was to be hoped that we might get thirty runners turn out, but in fact it was only twenty-two. Therefore everyone who made an effort will get a mention for their commitment. On the subject of which, there is horrible good to firm and workable good to firm, and as usual the effort had been made at Godstone to ensure it was of the workable type. You do get the impression had more people come to see for themselves, we would have had a few more take part.

Going: Good to Firm

Race 1: Colbrans Farm, Laughton & Tony Fountain Open Maiden, 4-6 year olds, 2m 4f

1: Hidden Drifter     2: Florabell     3: Crack On Jack

Winner owned & trained: Libby Lawson, ridden: Shane Roche

Hidden Drifter (1st): Settled at the back and let the other trio phaff around in and out of the lead. At the thirteenth she did not appear to be travelling all that brilliantly, but the gap was mostly made up approaching the third last, and once she was nipping at the runner-ups tail over the final fence, her stamina was always going to see her home. Progressing, and not just in need of 2m 4f on fast ground.

Florabell (2nd): Must be driving her connections a bit nutty as whatever distance she contests, the end outcome is being outstayed in the last furlong or so. Ability does not appear to be lacking and given that two of her three opponents wilted quite quickly, getting left in front does not equate here to going for home too early.

Crack On Jack (3rd): Has been finding maiden company all too ferocious, but this small field allowed him to stay competitive for longer than usual. He cracked at the third last, and once clearly defeated by the next fence, he was allowed to cruise home at his leisure.

One For Dodger (UR): Stuck with the others for as long as he could, then got behind by the eleventh. This caused him enough distress to see fit to dash his rider to the floor at the open ditch that followed.
Hidden Drifter outstays Florabell - this was the furthest that she ever led by

Race 2: Tony Cooper Memorial South East Hunts Club Members Conditions, 2m 4f

1: Brunswick Gold     2: Rocky Island

Winner owned: Stuart Robinson & the late Dr C Hargreaves, trained & ridden: Stuart Robinson

Brunswick Gold (1st): Just the sort of horse to start favourite for a race like this and find a way to lose it – then win a harder race afterwards. He did not really have any scares today. Joining the leader at the twelfth fence, he was going the better of the pair all the way, and whilst he never totally shook off the runner-up, it was going to take something daft to get him beaten.

Rocky Island (2nd): Coming off of a good run at Penshurst late last month, he seemed primed to put up a competitive effort but adapted to the shorter race far less well than Brunswick Gold, and there is history in his form that backs up the view that he needs three miles. He tried, but always in vain.

Pinsandneedles (Disq): Lacks stamina, and might have run above his usual level here, but did not. Well behind at the twelfth, it looked as if he was pulling up after jumping it. Instead, he popped the last three at a civilised canter, but with third prize waiting to be claimed, his rider forgot to weigh in.

Unwanted Gift (PU): Stayed in touch until weakening quickly at fence eleven, and a bad error at the next convinced his rider that it was time to pull up – the saddle appears to have slipped as a result of the mistake.

Race 3: Christopher Hall, Nigel Wilson, Sarah Tillard & Sally Marks South East Grand National Mixed Open, 3m 6f

1: The Ferbane Man     2: Wor Rom     3: Tailspin

Winner owned & trained: Petra New, ridden: Shane Roche

Since the demise of Detling, this race has rotated around several of the area courses. This is all very fair and egalitarian, but what we know is that the first Charing meeting, on soft or good to soft, is where it will get the strongest turnout. For a £1,000 prize money race, it was very, very weak, with the favourite being a horse that has pulled up in two of four this season, and only won a Maiden and Restricted in the others. In the south-east and adjoining areas some people will be kicking themselves for letting this one get away.

The Ferbane Man (1st): The best option in the race on 2016 form, he had only had one race this year, and it involved an especially mediocre effort at Parham. Obviously he could come on for the exercise, but how much was reasonable to expect? Just enough, as it turned out. He and the second were clear two from home, and he outstayed the second by a couple of lengths.

Wor Rom (2nd): Did well in 2015, often unseated in 2016 and brought his inclination to consistency into the concept of running quite poorly in 2017. This was a good opportunity to get a bit more seriously involved, and he managed it to the degree that if he could have really pinged the last, the winner could possibly have been worried out it.

Tailspin (3rd): Took this leap direct from Restricted company, and was unable to handle it. The going was a big problem, as he was often outpaced, and when that happened, the sense of flusterment had a negative impact on his jumping. We can at least give him credit for trying, in defiance of common sense.

Pebbleglen (PU): Toodled along in touch with the first pair and keeping ahead of Tailspin until his stamina went astray from the eighteenth. He was behind, and had lost third place, when pulled up and dismounted before the second last.

Race 4: The Major Family Open Maiden

1: Stars Royale     2: Sudski

Winner owned: R Gurney & P Rhodes, trained: Cynthia Woods, ridden: Charlie Marshall

Stars Royale (1st): Throughout his career, he has a record of being able to be worried out of just about any opportunity. Sometimes he even looks like he enjoys letting us down. The tactical plan today was to keep him well ahead of his sole rival and thus not fret about other horse(s). This did require him to go quite fast, and as a result his jumping was not always foot perfect – especially at the open ditch – but it seemed that every error was copied by Sudski and magnified in degree, so it was not hard for Stars Royale to win by a distance.

Sudski (2nd): Ran his best race so far at Parham last time, but today he was just rushed off of his feet from the moment that they started, and his jumping suffered badly as a consequence. Instant reaction is that he can do better than this, but in a bigger field he could get just as easily lose his equilibrium.

Race 5: Simon Tindall Restricted

1: Hi Lucy Lou     2: Fizzlestix     3: Emeralds Choice

Winner owned: The Two Farmers And A Butcher Partnership, trained: Andrew Pennock, ridden: Evan David

Hi Lucy Lou (1st): A promising performer in 2016, she had yet to really get up to full speed this season so far, but did so today. It was all quite close to the thirteenth, but once she went for home this race was all over bar the shouting. The longer it went on, the wider her lead got. This was not the toughest oppo, but if she is back to her standard from last year, more success is feasible.

Fizzlestix (2nd): Had a bit of luck on her side when winning a maiden at the last Godstone meeting, but needed a miracle today, and the fates were not obliging. It did not help that she seemed to struggle to climb out of the dip for the final time, because that was the stage at which Hi Lucy Lou attacked. She sealed a distant second by outjumping her challenger at the last.

Emeralds Choice (3rd): Endured a thrashing in all of the same ways as Fizzlestix, but his chance of second went walkies when he made a horrible blunder at the last and was brought to a stop. This was his first time finishing better than sixth since coming to Britain – sometimes to focus on the positives we do need quality optical assistance to find them. He played up at the start as well, which possibly offsets that.

Intercooler Turbo (UR): Unseated going to post, a later announcement implied that a loose child may have been to blame. He also unseated at fence eight, having done most of the donkey work prior to that. A disappointing interlude in what has otherwise been a solid season up to now.
Fence sixteen and all is well for Hi Lucy Lou

Race 6: Robert LE Wilkins Memorial PPORA Club Members Veteran & Novice Riders

1: Strollawaynow     2: Gersjoeycasey

Winner owned & trained: Andrew Wates, ridden: Benedict Shaw

Strollawaynow (1st): This was a case of anything that Hi Lucy Lou can do, I can do at least as well, maybe even better. The opposition had been completely burned off by the fifteenth fence and as he was approaching the winning post, the two others left going were jumping the second last. That counts as winning by a vast distance, rather than a common or garden one.

Gersjoeycasey (2nd): During the first two miles every one of the four runners had a try to see how things felt in front, and this horse was the last to give it a go. Just when he may have thought he was enjoying the concept, Strollawaynow sprinted away and was not seen for dust. Second place was confirmed when Time Is Tickin unseated two fences from home.

Time Is Tickin (3rd): Led early, had another look at it mid-race and then could not get anywhere near Strollawaynow in the last mile or so. He was getting the worst of the tussle for second place when unseating at the first fence in the home straight.

Fresh’s Fever (PU): All season has been spent pulling up, so why stop now? He actually stayed in touch beyond fence twelve, which suggests that the early pace was quite modest – setting up the winner’s impressive sprint.
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