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Garthorpe, 21/5/17

Melton Hunt Club

This was the first visit to the course in a long time, and it retains the same excellent viewing, a sheep field right next to the course and a car park in an ancient ridge and furrow field to stymie those who turn up in low profile sports cars. Arrival occurred just as the first race began, so observations on that were a bit sparse. Partially to blame was stopping over to see the ospreys at Rutland Water, but most of the hold up en route was again down to the incompetence and stupidity of Highways England. This time, the Stanstead Airport exit on the M11 was closed for resurfacing. Airport traffic was forced off a junction earlier, but for no reason at all, through traffic was forced into the airport traffic queue before rejoining their original lane. A five year old could see that this would cause major delays even when traffic was light, but the people that run our roads have yet to get that wise. The same geniuses have signs further up the road promising delays until the end of 2020 (!) whilst work is done on the A14. Apparently these clowns are not actually answerable to anyone.

Going: Good

Race 1: Fisher German Members Conditions [3m]

1: Ballalough     2: Shantou Prince      3: Namako

Winner owned: The Oak Partnership, trained: David Kemp, ridden: Sam Twiston-Davies

Ballalough made all of the running, but looked quite tired and in trouble approaching the last fence. Shantou Prince, who was bearing down on him in dangerous style, fluffed the last and could not recover before the post came. In fairness, Ballalough knuckled down very gamely to keep the runner up out of his hair. They were clear of the three other finishers, with half the field dropping out of contention very suddenly and pulling up.

Race 2: Jupiter Fund Management Restricted [3m]

1: Demood     2: Distant Rain     3: Shamat

Winner owned: I Pringuer, Mrs A Pringuer & S Allen, trained: Richard Pringuer, ridden: James Martin

An exciting outcome to this six horse affair, although that was not on the cards three out, where favourite Distant Rain was putting a cloud over his rivals. However, by the next fence he was looking quite tired and Demood was recovering with some purpose from a flat spot mid-race. Before they jumped it, the likely outcome was Demood wins, but the leader got away from it quite nippily and the chance of being caught declined. Then Distant Rain made a mistake at the last and Demood hit the front, only for her to hand left (down the camber) on the run-in, and open one last chance for Distant Rain – whose failure to take it was not down to lack of effort. At the line the margin was a mere head. This pair did not look to be moving especially fast but they were whizzing clear of the others, from whom Shamat struggled on for third.
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Sisco Kid leads Daulys Anthem and Shamat over the second - looks like patience paid off here (Demood and Distant Rain are in the wings)

Race 3: Melton Mowbray Tyres PPORA Club Members, 10 year olds and up [2m 4f]

1: Double Handful     2: Gallox Bridge     3: Ring Ben

Winner owned: R Carmichael & Alan Hill, trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Joe Hill

This was won in a similar style to Demood, but the instead of just having a bit of a breather, Double Handful lost a prominent position thanks to belting the eight fence (open ditch). He was back in the mix approaching the third last, and showed no signs of missing the wasted energy as he outbattled Gallox Bridge for the win. In a sporting act, Gallox Bridge made a notable error of his own at the final fence, although at that stage, Double Handful seemed as if he was going to hold on. This is about normal for Ring Ben who has a knack for getting into a threatening position and then not being able to win. Only once has he finished the job in a dozen pointing runs. That is quite a popular way of going about races, as Grove Field did the same thing, except he threw in the towel a fence earlier.
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Poor picture quality matches Gallox Bridge's jumping technique at the last, leaving Double Handful to win

Race 4: Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Novice Riders Championship Final

1: Beggar’s Velvet     2: For ‘N’ Against     3: Creepy

Winner owned: JB Harper, trained & ridden: Amy Cox

A very disappointing turnout of three for this race, which came from a workable eleven entries, and prize money for fourth and fifth that would have covered most fuel costs went begging. Or to Beggar’s by default? Creepy set off in front, but only served to provide the race that the other two wanted. At the second fence in the back straight (number fourteen) all three jumped it in line, but the original leader was soon left toiling. It seemed as if a close race for the win would still come, but For ‘N’ Against had seen enough at the second last, and Beggar’s Velvet strolled onto a bloodless victory from there.

Race 5: Sandicliffe Lance & Urky Newton Mixed Open

1: Hazel Hill     2: Thetalkinghorse     3: Speedy Bruere

Winner owned: Mrs D Williams, trained: Philip Rowley, ridden: Alex Edwards

This also proved to uncompetitive at the business end. The victory made it ten in a row for Hazel Hill, including his last run in Ireland, and this was impressive to win by fifteen lengths against a reasonably talented contributor like Thetalkinghorse. The third horse was still a way off of jumping the last when the runner-up finished, so it would seem unlikely that Thetalkinghorse was far, if at all, off of his best. Well done Hazel Hill.
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Hazel Hill humble in victory

Race 6: Jockey Club Mares & Fillies Open Maiden

1: Gadrose     2: Frosty Dawn     3: Sleepy Sunday

Winner owned: Mrs D Williams, trained: Philip Rowley, ridden: Alex Edwards

A subtle theme for this season has been persistent market enthusiasm for four year old fillies, who get in on very low weights. This carries on until they have had their limitations ruthlessly exposed. The risk with this policy is that all the weight concessions in the world are useless for a horse that does not know what day it is, and Gadrose did appear a bit nervy when approaching the paddock. Once there, and in the race (more importantly) she was fine during the race and ran out a comfortable winner. It was visually impressive, but compared to the rest of the card it was a very slow time, and the ones conceding a stone and a half to her had not achieved much on the track so far. Frosty Dawn looks like a non-stayer so far (and was a lowly rated hurdler) and Sleepy Sunday is not as fussy as her name regarding drowsiness. Any day will do.

Race 7: Belvoir Cricket And Countryside Trust Open Maiden

Void Race

On the first lap Drive On Joe decanted Dickie Collinson after colliding with the rails between fences seven and eight, and when the field was approaching a circuit later, it was deemed that rider and medics were in danger from the remaining runners and the race was stopped. Lack of diligence means that UK-Jumping had not walked the course, but the aerial photo shows a tricky narrow bend there. The winners were those who backed Drive On Joe, plus Conhalt and Dibble Bridge who had both run stinkers and already pulled up. Debutant Pass The Glass had shown a nice enough race and was bang in contention when it was halted. As long as he does not decide that this is a normal course of events and stop when furthest away from the paddock, it was a decent intro. The favourite, who was in the vanguard when they stopped, was ironically Dramatic Pause. At least he kept hold of his jockey this time.
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Pinpointing the problem
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