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Kingston Blount, 31/3/19 

Kimblewick 

The wheel turns full circle. A little while ago we were all fretting on the impact of sudden flu jab rules changes and dry weather on field sizes. Then the former was mostly sorted out with the vets all on holiday to the Maldives and there was some rain, but not huge amounts. Now we are all back on alert for dry weather affected small fields. Meanwhile the excellent online pointing round-up showed its grass roots credentials by sponsoring, erm, the hunter chase at Ascot. That will get the crowds flocking to a field in Oxfordshire. As far as the racing was concerned here, the numbers were OK but the quality in depth was lacking. 

Going: Good 

Race 1: Oakman Inns Confined 

1: Timmie Roe     2: Loveyoutothemoon     3: Namako 

Winner owned & trained: Tim Underwood, ridden: Phil York 

Timmie Roe made it five wins on the bounce but not for the first time he made things more difficult than they really need to be. There is a job waiting for him in the Highways Agency when racing is over. Turning for home in front and going best, he was agonising slow getting over the last and what should have been a stroll ended up with Timmie Roe all out to keep Loveyoutothemoon at bay. The runner-up was not looking a hopeful case even for second place as they crossed the fifteenth fence, but Loveyoutothemoon took heart from pace setting Namako running out of steam and losing jumping fluency – still his best run of the season and maybe he is ready to unleash himself for spring. She then got a positive case of déjà vu regarding Timmie Roe. The flop of the race was Allie Beag, on her home turf. Her steady run of second and third places, dropping in the odd accidental win, should have been worth second place here but yet again she opted to get a less appealing result than she could have managed. She will also have been delighted to irritate those humans who took the 5/1 for each-way (in a four horse race) as a bet to nothing in case Timmie Roe did something loopy. The generous assessment of the winner is that lots of horses are slow at the last here and perhaps when he gets the tiniest sense of “we have this won” from the saddle, he is inclined to magnify it. Side note on Namako. Since the 2016 season this was the seventh time that he has raced when UK-Jumping were at a meeting. The previous half-dozen began in Maidens and have climbed to Opens, covering races at six different tracks in Kent, Suffolk, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire. Does this return hook up at Kingston Blount mean that this epic game of hide and seek is over? Or is it a simple error, with both parties having some interesting wrinkles up their sleeve for the next couple of months? Despite him having won six points, the hide and seek does have priority and we have not seen him end up any better than second… 

Race 2: Ashley Wilde Group Conditions, 8 year olds and up, 2m 5f 

1: Free Of Charge     2: Cyrius Moriviere     3: Thoonavolla 

Winner owned: Lenny Owen & Tom Ellis, trained: Tom Ellis, ridden: Gina Andrews 

Eight runners of varied degrees of unconvincingness took part and by dint of not having raced in a British point-to-point before, Free Of Charge started favourite. He had become a reliable jumper in low level Irish chases and during a late switch to point-to-points there and this was definitely a race where a solid completion could be enough. The possible spanner in the works was formerly capable two mile hurdler Cyrius Moriviere who had turned into an utterly hopeless clot as a Rules chaser and pulled up in a hunter chase on seasonal debut. No redemption came today. The others all seemed to have lost their confidence or their interest in racing, or in Letbeso’s case, their interest in hinting at confidence and then seeing out their races with the hitting power of a Common Vole. Climbing the hill for the second time Free Of Charge, Cyrius Moriviere and Thoonavolla had gone clear of three remaining sort-of-challengers (Letbeso pulled up, Curragh Hall unseated) and they cracked in sequence that the finishing order suggests. Free Of Charge was only a couple of lengths ahead two out and ridden to assert, which opened the door to Cyrius Moriviere’s hurdling pace bringing him into a challenge. Instead he gradually lost ground on the winner. Thoonavolla completed for the first time in five races this season, so that was nice.
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Curragh Hall leads Gamato, Cyrius Moriviere and Letbeso at the first. On the far side in cheekpieces is Frampton, on the near side Free Of Charge, with Thoonavolla at the rear. Which means the halfa head in view with no other clues is a shy Vaillant Creek.

Race 3: Guy Luck Memorial Open Maiden, 4-6 year olds, 2m 5f

1: Foxy Singer     2: Hop ‘n Skip

Winner owned & trained: Tom Ellis, ridden: Gina Andrews

Only four went to post for this and they made for a hard bunch to weigh up. Ede’iffs Elton had finished eighth in a point-to-point bumper for his only race. Foxy Singer had been fourth in a Rules bumper but by quite a long way. Hop ‘n Skip had never raced. Pandinus Imperator offered only the tiniest degrees of promise under Rules and has been even less effective as a pointer this year. The paddock pick for the future was Ede’iffs Elton but he was outpaced and dropping away when a faller at fence twelve. Pandinus Imperator, not unsupported in what seemed to be a quiet betting ring, initially jumped poorly in front and had resorted to jumping poorly in rear until he refused the last. The remaining pair put on a show for the crowd. From the final fence in the back straight Hop ‘n Skip was going best but Jack Andrews was determined not to commit too early and when he did Foxy Singer knuckled down despite stumbling at the final fence and held him at bay by a length or so. It certainly looked like Hop ‘n Skip could have won it, but in defeat the horse will not have come away with a sour view of the overall racing experience, which could have happened if he had been bottomed out here or ended up falling. To repeat the method would not be forgiveable.

Race 4: Field Seymour Parks Novice Riders

1: Net Work Rouge     2: Crowded Room     3: Queen Spud

Winer owned: Bart Ryan-Beswick, trained: Chloe Boxall, ridden: Andrew Llewellyn

Well this turned out to be unexpectedly close. Five way close, not two way close, or way too close, depending on who you had the money on. With four to jump Net Work Rouge was not shaping as the likely winner, sitting in fifth and urged along but giving little in response, it appeared. From the second last he got a good run up the inner and just nosed ahead as the quintet took off for the final time. Crowded Room got dragged along with Net Work Rouge but failed by only a length, the duo having put a little shaft of daylight back to the three chasing them. A gutsy front running show from Ballygrooby Bertie got less than it deserved as Queen Spud just deprived him of third. Queen Spud was debuting for the season and could be a point winner if she develops on this – her Rules victories were at Fakenham four times and Stratford once, so really tight courses bring out her best – she loves the turn by the road here, but not the long sweeping one over the hill. Meanwhile Net Work Rouge’s rider has a career score of two rides, two wins. It is all downhill from here. Second favourite Velvet Cognac was running quite a poor race when he unseated on the bend after the third last.
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Fence three sees the photography back to form. Ballygrooby Bertie in front, Roseneath second, then Dunara Castle and Queen Spud, Velvet Cognac. Lost in the wings of the fence – Net Work Rouge. Completely out of shot – Crowded Room. Who wants to see the first and second anyway?

Race 5: Philip Scouller Memorial Home Counties Grand National Mixed Open, 4m

1: Haymount     2: Vasco Du Mee     3: Changeofluck

Winner owned: Docker, Morris-Lowe, Howlett, Wills, trained: Tom Ellis, ridden: Gina Andrews

With two wins this season and a Rules record that included a close third to Tiger Roll in the 2017 National Hunt Chase, Haymount was the obvious pick for this and duly took up an odds-on role. He is not, however, a paragon of invincibility, and there was some fun possible by picking the right opponent if Haymount was not at his best. He was on his game, and even when going a bit Timmie Roe at the final fence, nothing was in striking range to get him worrying. Vasco Du Mee has won the Cheltenham hunter chase evening four miler in the past but for a horse that has hit such heights, his winning percentage is not up to much. He can be relied on to trundle round for a second or third very frequently and that was his plan here. If Vasco De Gama had travelled at his speed, the Portuguese would have first landed in Goa last month. Changeofluck, in contrast, has a good strike rate and has three wins here, his local track. He had not been in impressive form so far in 2019 but this was a step in the right direction. The other four did not offer much of a threat, although Pithivier seemed to be operating well enough until blundering at the twelfth and starting to struggle soon after. The two things are likely to be connected. His win over only a furlong and a half less at Cocklebarrow implied that he should have stayed seriously involved all of the way.

Race 6: PC Turner Of Farnborough Open Maiden

1: Getabuck     2: Round Robin     3: Bishopstone Girl

Winner owned: Miss AB Hyde, trained & ridden: Peter Mason

Far be it for UK-Jumping to declare this race as “not very good” but Round Robin, a horse who had been most unlucky to run into better horses on twenty-one previous occasions (plus a hurdle and a bumper) was in and out of favouritism in the betting ring, which indicated a dramatic lack of confidence in the potential of the less exposed contestants. That was surprising for Getabuck as he had made the places at the start of the month for the first time in only his third ever race and it did appear that he could still be on the upgrade – and had been found an amenable race. Ambanadora had not raced since last May, when he was runner-up in his first two races, both in easier going – not starting until he was nine years old was not a good omen. Bishopstone Girl had lately been comfortably held at bay in a weak Charing maiden with only four runners and Overshot had shown nothing so far. He unseated early, Ambanadora pulled up when tiring after fence thirteen. Round Robin and Bishopstone Girl performed just as cynically expected and all of us that got the collywobbles and did not take 9/4 about Getabuck were made aware that we were going to deeply regret it by the second last. On a couple of boards for a brief spell all three finishers were simultaneously on offer at 9/4. Thus a guaranteed small profit was allowed to drift off into the spring sunset. 
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