Kingston Blount, 27/5

Berks & Buck Draghounds

The main thing here was that the aafternoon was hot, humid and not terribly comfortable as a consequence. Not least for the horses, as there were many that got sweaty enough in the paddock that it would normally be offputting. Even worse, we were taunted by intermittent wafts of cooler air that threatened to make things nicer, but never stayed. It at least acted as a reminder to thnik hard about marginal stayers being helped by the ground but tiring in the heat... The meeting, presumably due to the sheer volume of things going on around bank holiday weekends, was a little short of refershment options. Ice cream van, burger van and bar were the total and of course, human beings what they are, everyone gets hungry at the same time. Some sort of rota or ration book is needed.

Going: Good (Good to Soft places)

Race 1: Brightwalton Stud Members

1: Tempelpirate      2: Spessartine

Winner owned & trained: Tim Underwood, ridden: Craig Dowson

Only two took part and Spessartine has not been in anywhere near the sort of form this season to worry the prolific Tempelpirate. Those willing to lump on the latter at very short prices ought to have in mind that he has flopped at this meeting in the past, when in a typical manically busy season it looked like one race too many. There were no worries today as he set off in front and every few fences added a couple more lengths to the lead. The end result was an easy success (number twenty-two, of which ten have been at this course) in a very slow and stressless time.

Race 2: Mark Goggin PPORA Novice Riders

1: Santa's Secret     2: Thomas Junior     3: Alottamo

Winner owned: Miss S Pilkington, trained: Chloe Boxall, ridden: William Marshall

Note to young jockeys all round. If you have gone to a new track and go to post first, make sure you have researched where the start is, because if you go haring past it following the hunt horses taking up their station to catch loose horses and then are asking the photographers, all the people standing on the rails will hear you! The feature of this race was an early attack going up the hill by Alottamo, but coming to the second last she had shaken off, it seemed, all bar Santa's Secret and possibly triumphed in the tactical face off. The short rise to the last fence can stop a tired horse quickly, but she was probably just getting away with it when she walloped the final fence and came very close to unseating. Santa's Secret pinged it, got away quickly and put the result to bed almost immediately. Alottamo had come to an almost complete stop and was caught for second by Thomas Junior, who had been given too much to do (going well but not in touch for most of the last lap). He was beaten some fifteen lengths or so, and it is easily questioned whether he could have narrowed down all of that if going for home earlier. Last year's winner, Creepy, was another to survive a very bad mistake, this time three out, but he looked to be on the retreat at the time anyway. The note made on Zarliman was "hit 2, 3, 4, 5 and most of rest until pulled up 11" but somehow he completed miles, behind the others.
This is fence one, the last that Zarliman (15) jumped cleanly. Red cheekpieces - a warning from history. Thomas Junior, Gizzit, Alottamo and Creepy make up the first rank. The checked cap on Zarliman's buttocks represents Santa's Secret.

Race 3: Mettal Limited Intermediate, 2m 5f

1: Pique Rock     2: Allie Beag     3: Desert Roe

Winner owned: Juliet Minton, trained: Philip Rowley, ridden: Alex Edwards

Pique Rock has had two wins already this season, a weak maiden and a restricted of quality to be proven. She adpated to the next step up in class with aplomb, seeing off the late challenge of Allie Beag, who was one that seemed notably unflustered by the weather before the race. Coming away from the third last it did look as if the runner-up could run Pique Rock close, but by the next fence it was all over, and Aliie Beag was eased on the run-in when inevitably defeated. Let us hope that Mrs Minton is being allowed to have fun with Pique Rock and not being forced to be all business. Desert Roe did have a brief experience of leading approaching the eleventh, but the winner stole it away at will. Behind this were a few who laboured through it all unthreateningly, but Genuwinefizz was slightly different, as he appeared just to have a strop when not leading - so a bit more genuinely flat.

Race 4: Tyreteam Hound Race

1: Rapter     2: Sonar     3: Recall

There is a little uncertainty over the result of this elite event, as the dogs tend to disappear in the long grass, leaving Nick Quesnel to sort of make up his commentary based on no information in particular. Then there is the problem that when the lead horse slows down, the dogs tend to as well, and Farmer's commanding lead on the last bend was wasted when he stopped for a wee. He was still being called in front with ten yards to go, when a complete rehash of the positions was made, and then the uncertainty was confirmed when it was decided to wait for the judge's verdict on the result. The official announcement was missed due to being inspired by Farmer's lavatorial antics, but everyone seemed to be clear that Rapter had won. Perhaps.

Race 5: BFJ Consultants Ltd Mixed Open

1: For 'N' Against     2: Namako     3: Royal Guardsman

Winner owned & trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Izzy Marshall

Although not necessarily in the strongest grade of Open races, the field had generally been doing well in that level so far this season, and it was not a bad race of the type. The betting was dominated by Namako and Neumond, both of whom have kept the wins ticking over in their pointing careers. However, Neumond had an off day and Namako was mugged by For 'N' Against who put aside a mid-race jumping blip over a couple of fences to seal the race by being much quicker over the final obstacle than Namako. The runner-up needed a couple of stern reminders that there was still a race to be won at fence eleven, but at least he offered some form of response. And a positive one as well. Royal Guardsman had not managed totally impressive results in his first season of pointing, but he had not been beaten far in his last two and there is a bit of a sense of progression as he goes on. However, in handicap chases he was best at two and a half miles or fewer (one 2m 6.5f race provides an unreliable exception), so he may not be able take pointing any further than this.
Namako (far side) and Neumond tease Royal Guardsman by offering a gap to enter between them. For 'N' Against was played far too patiently to be in a UK-Jumping photo.

Race 6: Pangbourne Asphalt Restricted

1: Intercooler Turbo     2: Loveyoutothemoon

Winner owned: Mrs K York, trained & ridden: Phil York

A weak five horse restricted in which three were very easily ignored. Persian Steel because he has shown no skill at this job and only is forced out of maidens due to carelessly winning on the flat - pointing form was RUP. Loveyoutothemoon because he had a long string of pulled ups and unseatings, plus a refusal to race last season and the balance of evidence overwhelms his second place last time. Intercooler Turbo only because he really looked as if he was quite ill at ease with the heat before the race. Instead Classic Hit, who was making the running, stopped in a jiffy when he made a classic hit on fence ten and Brake Hill was off of his game entirely. What we got at the end was a flaky finish, with Loveyoutothemoon passing Intercooler Turbo, who often jumped right, at the last only for that horse to struggle back to a narrow win. After noting the ease of all the winners at Peper Harrow, an instant theory was losing there must have been bad form. Intercooler Turbo lost there - although it was a very belated seasonal return.
Between winning and unsaddling/celebration etc, Intercooler Turbo finds time for a quick nap

Race 7: Eurosalt Open Maiden

1: Whiskey Moon     2: Tiger's Song     3: Sandygate

Winner owned & trained: John Benfield, ridden: Zac Baker

As per the previous race, this was not strong, with the frustrating Sandygate joined by five who have not shown much talent so far. The key race was the 2m 4f maiden at Mollington earlier this month as Whiskey Moon (fourth by eight lengths) just outlasted Tiger's Song (fifth thirty lengths or more further back). Due to his having debuted at Mollington, Tiger's Song had much more scope for improvement and she duly did so, but they way in which Whiskey Moon went about success in matter of fact fashion would hint that he can adapt to going into restricteds even if the literal form paints a bleaker picture.
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