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Penshurst, 21/4/18

Old Surrey, Burstow & West Kent

A meeting that was a bit short on entries, but there were only a handful of duplicates and there were no fields smaller than three runners. The last race had only four entered, three of whom had another engagement on the card, but instead of a closing walkover, all four of them hung around for competitive closer. For the first five races things were a fairly uneventful procession, but the last two sparked a bit more intrigue. The course did persist for a little while in claiming that the ground was mostly good (after an initial going report solely of “good to soft in the dip”) but sanity reigned eventually. That good to soft patch did seem to motivate the riders to take all of the races rather slowly.

Going: Good to Firm (Good to Soft in the dip)

Race 1: Sara Brise Memorial Open Maiden

1: Bastante     2: Shanoule Wood     3: Know More Oats

Winner owned: Plantation Prosecco Partnership, trained: Richard Bandey, ridden: Gordon Treacey

The biggest field of the day, with six runners, did not prove to be the most appealing betting option. None of the runners had done much to appeal, although Bastante had a couple of narrow losses in weak Irish races. She does not have a fantastic skillset for jumping fences, and had struggled badly in two British runs, but she was at least the clear paddock pick. Main danger Shanoule Wood had seen his limitations exposed at Charing and was a weak favourite in the betting ring. Bastante took the race up at fence two and was never headed. She was going rather slowly in the final straight, but fortunately for her the two remaining pursuers, Shanoule Wood and perennial maiden Know More Oats were operating in an equally speed free zone.

Race 2: Warners Solicitors Conditions

1: Danandy     2: Little Legend     3: Nouailhas

Winner owned: KP & The Nuts Racing Club, trained: Karen Hobbs, ridden: Shane Roche

After showing life to win the Members at the last meeting here, Little Legend could not repeat the trick in the slightly higher grade, but there was no need to be embarrassed about it. Danandy was a functional 120-rated chaser last summer even after an extended time off, and whilst he had not made a flying start to his British pointing career, there had been progression since his first race of the season ended in a slipped saddle. With Danandy given a patient ride, Little Legend tried to quicken the pace and the fourteenth and put the main danger under pressure. The old legs were no longer able to execute the plan, but he did at least finish well clear of the two other participants.

Race 3: Ken Lingham Memorial Ladies Open

1: Degooch     2: Sa Kaldoun     3: Wor Rom

Winner owned & trained: Christy Mews, ridden: Lilly Pinchin

There were similarities in the way this panned out to the previous race. Degooch was an obvious pick, having won at Charing and been tactically outwitted in defeat at High Easter. Sa Kaldoun was the horse with potential to insert spanners in the works as this is the time of year when he begins to flower. This time the Sa Kaldoun Theorem did not work because Degooch did not make any misjudgements this day out. Degooch has won on fast ground under Rules, so his season is not likely to be done yet, and faith is retained that Sa Kaldoun will continue his normal late season burst of life. The flop was Little Chip who is supposed to be a player at this level, but is not able to scale those heights at the moment.

Race 4: Brian Perring Memorial Mens Open

1: Lord Heathfield     2: Adept Approach     3: Fond Memory

Winner owned: Andy & Susan Mews, trained: Christy Mews, ridden: Lewis Stones

Only four entered for this, but at least three turned up for a race. The one who opted out was Conkies Lad, who has a really good Penshurst record and would have had a shot at causing an upset. In his absence, the previously prolific but wavering Adept Approach had a chance to get back into the winning habit. Surprisingly, he was edged out of being favourite by Lord Heathfield, who had a similar profile to Danandy – doing well under Rules not that long ago but yet to flourish as a pointer. His repertoire included the same get-it-right trick in the small field as the winner of the second race. With the field going around more or less in a line for a long way, Fond Memory cracked first, throwing away the lead when running wide as they turned into the bottom part of the course and lacking a bit of enthusiasm thereafter.

Race 5: They Said It Wouldn’t Last Ruby Anniversary Restricted

1: Stars Royale      2: Lala’s Sister

Winner owned: R Gurney & P Rhodes, trained: Cynthia Woods, ridden: Charlie Marshall

A very long odds-on favourite with the history of Stars Royale is very tempting to oppose. There was only one opponent when he won his maiden at Godstone. The problem was that neither of the opponents here quite set themselves up as a tempting alternative. Lala’s Sister had pulled up in both point-to-points attempted and since breaking his maiden with a generous judging decision to get a dead heat Pinsandneedles has often looked like a non-stayer, or resting on his laurels in shorter races. He was also not totally spot on for fitness in this seasonal debut. Any chance of Stars Royale blowing it therefore went when Lala’s Sister hit a huge flat spot mid-race. He did try to rally from fence twelve, but the effort ended two out when yet another slow jump set Stars Royale free.

Race 6: Complete Land Management Veteran & Novice Riders

1: Fountains Cider

Winner owned: Steve Spice & Miss Marie Bailey, trained & ridden: Steve Spice

Three lined up for this, and Provincial Pride was out of the race with a sixth fence unseat. From there on it was looking like plain sailing for Knockedoutloaded, who is a dependable finisher, and usually in the first two. The race was in the bag when the saddle slipped on the tight final turn and put Will Thirlby on the deck. The toiling and suddenly not beaten Fountains Cider just had to pop over the last, which he managed with no terrors.

Race 7: Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate

1: Le Fou Royal     2: Magic Symphony     3: Haut Bages

Winner owned & trained: Brenda Ansell, ridden: Steve Spice

This race was added to the card to replace opportunities lost to the weather, so it was a shame that only four horses entered. All of them ran, and East Anglian visitor Haut Bages looked the logical choice to be successful. However, Haut Bages ran a lacklustre sort of race with a one paced finish and was a couple of lengths behind ultra-veteran rider Steve Spice, who was given only a second ever career double by Le Fou Royal, who had not been setting the world alight by this season. Early leader Magic Symphony looked as if he had run up the white flag with a lap to go, but he limited the damage for most of the rest of the race and then produced a storming finish to almost spoil the part for the Le Fou Royal.
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