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Kingston Blount, 1/4/2017

Kimblewick

So, the first visit to Kingston Blount this season, and with the horrendous traffic en route more than doubling the journey time, quite a stressful one. Not a good omen for those living east of the course who may be thinking of attending the newly introduced Friday evening meeting at the end of May – the date chosen riskily being a bank holiday weekend. On arrival there did not look to be many horseboxes there, but the fields held up, with five being the worst turnout.

The biggest admin plus was the racecard, where a couple of races where the field needed two pages to print where actually laid out on facing pages when the booklet was opened. Sadly, not all the races made this innovation, but it is a massive convenience for racegoers, especially notetakers, and needs to be standard above the usual mess.

The biggest minus was the car park arrangements. The area with the best view has always been slightly more expensive to park in, but this year it had been reserved for people paying large sums in advance. This meant that the lower car park was jam packed with even a normal sized crowd. But if you are with someone of limited mobility who cannot crest the ridge where the winning post sits, they can see very little of the racing from what was the cheaper car park. Then, due to lack of room, late arrivals were directed up to the vast unused spaces beyond the winning post. Experiment failed, need to go back to the old method.

Going: Good (but with a fair wind about, it was probably on the quick side later in the afternoon)

Race 1: Oakman Inns Confined

1: Pride Of Parish     2: Merrydown Vintage     3: Macdougal

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

Most of the line-up had been short of their best recently,and the finish was battled out between the two runners which have been showing greater signs of life. After some early wobbles in his career, Merrydown Vintage has not been worse than fourth in the last twenty-four months, and one of the worst positions involved losing narrowly. He is a good yardstick for the form, which saw Pride Of Parish beat him by three lengths having established that margin at the second last and at no stage letting it be reduced. The more veteran Macdougal, now a teenager, ran a pretty solid race until the thirteenth, but the first two went away from him climbing the hill and he was not a factorafter that. Silvogans Hook, who showed promise before missing last season has shown nothing since returning, and Richie Collinson was fined for not pulling up when the horse was badly tailed off. In the next race, the jockey was dashed to the ground at the third fence, so anyone who disputes the ability of horses to communicate telepathically (and understand the runners and riders announcements) should be feeling rather foolish at this point in time.

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

1: I Believe      2: NoNo Bingo     3: Catch Tammy

Winner owned: Miss J Bayley & C Moore, trained: HeidiBrookshaw, ridden: Max Kendrick

When this bunch were announced as the runners, it was time to feel guilty for being negative about the recent displays of several in the opener. They were quite a difficult selection to enthuse over although in some cases they had probably been trundling around waiting for the moment that they would come across a reduced distance race for which they were qualified. The obvious name in that frame was Catch Tammy (0/14 pointing) but he had not run since last May and looked to just need it. Despite finishing in the frame, he ran as if fitness was not spot on as well. The race was in the process of being turned into a stroll by I Believe (1/23 in pointing, but encouragingly second on his only race this term) when he walked through the second last. That required a good recovery from Max Kendrick to avoid the prize being thrown away, but the horse got going again quire readily afterwards, and the scare was quite temporary in nature. Runner-up No No Bingo had not raced for almost two years and clouted several fences along the way, which made life a little easier for I Believe, and showed how limited the efforts of those behind him actually were.

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

1: Ginuwinefizz     2: Going Away      3: Big Time Frank

Winner owned: The Foureights Partnership, trained: TomEllis, ridden: Gina Andrews

This was a qualifier for the Goffs Spring Sales point-to-point bumper, but probably one of the weakest ones. Ginuwinefizz has shown past ability to a certain degree and Going Away did finish second in Ireland on New Year’s Day (not repeated in two tries since) so it was not a complete dud, but the opposition had plenty of baggage of failure with them. At least the two mares at the head of the outcome were clear of the rest, from the point when front running Big Time Frank gave way. He had been second over course and distance a month ago, but in very feeble looking race. From the moment she hit the front, Ginuwinefizz always had the situation in her control, and going off to the right at the final fence just gave Going Away a false moment of hope. Had she not made a mess of fence eleven, the open ditch, that could have been a different story, as momentum was lost at a time when it could least be afforded.
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Big Time Frank (at the front) hides Ginuwinefizz at this point, but cannot do so forever. Teeton Tinker, Final Spin and Going Away are the pursuing horses

Race 4: Field Seymour Parkes PPORA Club Members Novice Riders

1: Creepy     2: Horizontal Speed     3: Tempelpirate

Winner owned: Mrs CL Dee, trained: Claire Hardwick, ridden:Charles Dee

A total upset here as 1/3 favourite Tempelpirate and all round winning machine not only got beaten, but also failed to be second, which has become a very unfamiliar experience to him. It was clear with a circuit to go that he was not having a going day at all, and whilst he was encouraged in all ways possible from the saddle, Creepy was making the running too quickly for any response to be effective. In reality Creepy’s best Rules form did make him an option to consider against the jolly, and having won his most recent pointing run, there was reason to believe that something like his best was on the way. More of a shock was Tempelpirate’s inability to get past Horizontal Speed for second prize.
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Creepy is distinctly pleased with the outcome
Race 5: Philip Scouller Memorial Southern Grand National Mixed Open, 4m

1: Supreme Danehill     2: Warden Hill     3: Green Winter

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

Firstly, a quibble about the race title. As any fule kno, the Sandhurst area in pointing is a contrived existence that really lacks any geographic anchors, but Kingston Blount is universally regarded to be a south midlands course, so can it really stage the Southern Grand National? Supreme Danehill has now won this event (the four mile mixed open, whatever it may be named at any stage) for two years in a row, so even if he understands the semantics of the name issue, he will absolutely not care about it. He was in front all of the way, and only a hesitation at the last put him in danger. It allowed Warden Hill, who had ended up favourite, to get as close as a neck. After a sluggish start to the season, four mile winner from last season Green Winter had been awful in both runs this season, despite finding places to avoid the mud. This was much better, although he was dramatically outpaced from fences twenty-one to twenty-three and his late fight back was doomed from the moment it started. Fourth placed Kimora was also picking up late on, but from much further back. She seems to have the skills for a four miler, but this company was a bit too hot for her. Even Green Winter.
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Supreme Danehill out where he spent virtually all of the race. Green Winter (stripes) and Shakalakaboomboom pursue, with probably Warden Hill behind them.

Race 6: NorCal Vets of Thame Open Maiden

1: Changeofluck     2: Distant Rain     3: State Department

Winner owned: Mrs D Clark, Mrs H Munn & Alan Hill, trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Joe Hill

Considering that the runners here had shown a great deal of love for collecting letters in their form, rather than the more useful numbers, this was a mostly uneventful race. Admittedly Private Jones ran out at the fourth - after pulling up early last time, he has got the knack of minimising the amount of effort expended. Debut maker My Amber Boy had a bit of a stroll around in the rear before calling time around about the thirteenth. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Changeofluck made a winning pointing debut, which was very feasible on his hurdling form (runner-up three times) but not so sure from two hapless chase runs. Distant Rain managed to avoid a hat trick of falls, the previous two being late in his races, and Arcal Fifty got his usual top four finish, although at the bottom end of the performance range. The only question left unanswered regards Shehadtorun. In the scrap for third approaching the second last fence, she jumped it and quickly came to a halt. Pulled up by the jockey or was it the horse’s own decision?

Race 7: PC Turner Of Farnborough Restricted

1: Royal Beekeeper     2: Ballyfore Cross

Winner owned: J Owen, T Gredley & E Carroll, trained: James Owen, ridden: Gina Andrews

It seemed in recent weeks that full length Restricteds were becoming an endangered species. Normal service resumed here, but all the events that mattered occurred late in the race. Brake Hill fell four from the finish, when in with every chance and apparently having recovered from a bit of a flat spell descending the hill. Long time leader Ballyfore Cross weakened from the same stage of the race, leaving Top Man Tim dominating Royal Beekeeper. Until the last fence, where Top Man Time, with the race at his mercy, forgot to stick out his legs for landing, and just sort of rolled to the floor. Having been left in front, Royal Beekeeper was almost brought to a complete halt, but he just about dodged the faller and keep some forward impetus. Fellow backers of Ballyfore Cross briefly entertained ideas of one of the luckiest returns of the season. Leafy Arbour, and enthusiastic collector of the letter U, declined to risk jumping the last for third place, which was not a bad idea in the circumstances. Meanwhile, Royal Beekeeper moves up in grade, bringing with him form of UU1U1. The flat race in which he neither unseated nor won is best ignored.
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