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Parham, 29/04/17

Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray

Having missed the first meeting of the season here, the second was not a fantastic one to attend, as the trees have grown upward and outward, making even more of each race invisible. The apparent resiting of a fence that was always visible in the past into the obstructed part meant that the fifth last, fourth last and third last are all out of sight, which is not exactly a quiet and irrelevant part of the race. At one stage commentator Lee MacKenzie was moved to observe that we should imagine our selections hitting the front at this stage of the race, as it would be “exciting, even if it does not turn out to be true.” At the other the end of the scale, the run to the first fence seems slightly longer from where the horses exit the collecting area, giving the recall flag lady an extra 0.3 seconds to save her life.

Going: Good to Firm, Good places

Race 1: The Wiston Estate Intermediate

1: Letskeepit Simple     2: Spiritofchartwell     3: West Lake

Winner owned: Michael Deasley, trained: Ian Cobb, ridden: Charlie Marshall

The south-east area’s very own maestro of inconsistency broke his pattern here, as Letskeepit Simple had pulled up in races one, three and five this season, and followed them all with a win or a second place. For some reason he decided to win number seven. What chance do punters have? It actually turned out to be a thrilling finish, as three horses appeared to behind the arboreal screen to approach the second last in a head to head battle. The winner had a slight lead but as he drifted off of the rails thanks to the course taking a long, steady turn at this stage, a gap opened for West Lake to aim at. Had he been able to get into the space before Letskeepit Simple adjusted, he would likely have won, but West Lake did not have the zip to do so, and switching to the outer when he failed meant that he was not able to get past a surprisingly resilient (in stamina terms) Spiritofchartwell. Another horse to have been playing patterns with numbers is Cheltenham Mati, scoring 131212 this season. Fancied to win for more scientific reasons pertaining to ability, she unseated instead. Is Parham the place to put your (equine) head in a new space?
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Spiritofchartwell (11) and Letskeepit Simple (far side) add another of the frequent photographic appearances on UK-Jumping. Time Is Tickin ensures that the regulars are not obstructed.

Race 2: Harwoods Open Maiden

1: Lake Balaton     2: Justu     3: Indian Chance

Winner owned: Mrs J Wanless & Martin Wanless, trained: Martin Wanless, ridden: Josh Knox

Lake Balaton had been placed in his last four races, and making the journey into an area that is not known for producing future superstars in this type of race was just the assistance that he needed to get off of the mark. It was not easy though, as a fellow long distance traveller gave him no peace. Justu had rather less encouraging form up her sleeve, and was thus less likely to get the better of the fight. There was a bit of a chance for a different tale if Miss North Light had not misjudged the second fence from home and unseated, but it did seem as if Lake Balaton had her measure at the time. A moderately interesting scenario occurred at the start. Lake Balaton reared up and unseated his rider, who sort of slid off and landed feet first with no cause for alarm. So that left a question mark whether the horse would do something silly when the starter let the field go, but instead Loveyoutothemoon refused to race. So now we know that horses have learned the art of gamesmanship. Well, some of them.

Race 3: Cherrimans Ladies Open

1: Crack Of Thunder     2: See You Jack     3: Trueflyingcolours

Winner owned: Matthew Hollis, trained: Rose Grissell, ridden: Tabitha Worsley

The area season has been a constant challenge for connections to find enough hard work for Crack Of Thunder, but they do seem to have got there. Two races in three days over Easter got a big thumbs up from the horse, and turning out just under two weeks later allowed him to have a second success. Two serious rivals failed to get round, with Merrydown Vintage unseating when out of view (assumed as unseated, as the horse remained up with the field when riderless) and Conkies Lad made a right mess of fence ten and lost his pilot in the process. See You Jack has won in Open company, but usually seems to be a notch below that in his talent level, and also had a far less experienced rider than Crack Of Thunder, and those two things decided the race. It also helped that Trueflyingcolours was not at his best, although with it now two years since he won, perhaps this is the best that he can do now.
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Crack Of Thunder eases down after another win, whereas See You Jack is overcelebrating a defeat

Race 4: The Vintage Tackroom South East Hunts Club Members Conditions

1: The Job Is Right     2: Golden Crisp     3: Broughtons Bandit

Winner owned: Mrs M Devine, trained: David Phelan, ridden: Shane Roche

For the time of year this race drew a massive entry, with thirty-two horses nominated. However, eighteen had entries elsewhere on the card and some also had options elsewhere over the bank holiday weekend, so a turnout of ten was about expected. Getting half of them tailed off after a mile was not quite so expected. Whilst the pace looked fast, most of the ones to finish in contention where up to the fore early, although The Job Is Right was the one horse to bridge the gap from stragglers to serious horses. He used the same patient tactics that failed him on British debut at Aldington but a) jumped much better today and b) did not have a Little Legend to pursue. Under Rules he achieved a very decent handicap mark but failed to win very often, so what happens next is anyone’s guess. If this was a Channel 4 clip show, “anyone” would be Russell Brand, Sue Perkins and someone from Hollyoaks desperately seeking credibility as an actor – in vain, obviously. Golden Crisp, who seems to have been cooked to perfection for an end of the season serving, took the lead at the second last from Broughtons Bandit after that horse had jumped it very awkwardly. The sight of the lead was only a brief one, as The Job Is Right was ahead by the last fence, and keeping on well.

Race 5: Rathbones Mens Open

1: Wither Or Not     2: Brunswick Gold     3: Strollawaynow

Winner owned, trained & ridden: Dale Peters

All credit to Wither Or Not. He started his season back in early December at Barbury Castle and has been haring all over the country since mopping up the lowest possible grade of race for which he was qualified. And that was not the agenda of a horse set to be winning in late April, but for Wither Or Not his first shot at Open company was a success, taking the winning run to six. Brunswick Gold chased him all the way, but he is another that tends to be placed to avoid Open races if possible, so the winner need not get too big headed about this win. However, Strollawaynow was a capable handicap chaser when on song, and although having a jockey with only three previous rides ticked off would been a disadvantage in this company, his presence in the frame is more of a compliment to Wither Or Not. Fourth, and well beaten, was a disappointing Adept Approach. He has won here, but also been beaten and fallen and at this late stage of his career it has become apparent that he greatly resents leaving Kent, having gained nine of his ten wins in the county.

Race 6: Subaru Restricted

1: Macdougal     2: Minmore Present     3: Wonderful Present

Winner owned: Brian Tetley, trained: Pam Tetley, ridden: Will Hickman

The Restricted is won by a thirteen year old, five years after he won his maiden. This is not often a good sign for the form, but it was a cracking race to watch, at least in the bits that could be seen. Macdougal has not been running too badly lately, but like some sort of aging goth, his morale seems to fall to pieces when daylight opens up between him and the leaders. Under a canny ride to sustain interest, he was able to stay up with whoever was opting to be in front at any given time, and then go on from Minmore Present at the final fence. No obvious hints here that a repeat of Charing naughtiness was in Minmore’s mind! The two put a wide margin back to the battle for third between Wonderful Present and Leafy Arbour – standing head on to the finish made it hard to tell who came out best, but Wonderful Present was the more cheerful of the two horses. On the other hand, Leafy Arbour does appear to feel that he has failed on any day when his rider is still teamed up with him at the end of the race, so misery could have been a sign of being placed. After a highly promising effort at Penshurst was spoiled by a last fence fall, Vering has not been able to repeat the effort, and was losing touch on the leaders when falling at the fifteenth here.
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Ballyfore Cross is destined to unseat but leads Macdougal for now. Vering (purple & yellow) has a small margin on Emeralds Choice (cheekpieces) and Mirs Choice. Minmore Present (red cap) is being patient towards the rear, perhaps wanting to see what Leafy Arbour might get up to.
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