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Penshurst, 22/4/6

Old Surrey, Burstow & West Kent

A disappointing meeting, with only fifteen runners turning up. With four appearing in each of the first two races, there was a tease that we may be bluffed all the way through to a competitive meeting, but the lack of horse boxes was not misleading. One possible reason is that people would not have expected the ground to have as few fast areas as there actually were, but the main cause is surely having four meetings in fifteen days in the south-east. Most of the runners came from outside the area.

Going: Good (Good to Firm places)

Race 1: Warners Solicitors Open Maiden

1: Kicker King     2: Big Man Doe     3: Infinityandbeyond

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

Kicker King (1st): Failed to show any obvious ability under Rules, but has progressed from fourth to second and now to first since trying point-to-points. He led all the way, going eight lengths clear three fences from home. He did look to be tiring at the next fence, but the opposition was in the same boat and a wide margin win came.

Big Man Doe (2nd): Got stuffed in all three Irish runs, and was fourth on his British debut. For the early stages he was on the heels of the leader, but hit a bit of a flat spot at halfway. There was a recovery later in the race, but no real threat to Kicker King. He is a huge old lump for a five year old and looks the type who will be more mature and naturally better next season.

Infinityandbeyond (3rd): Jumped sketchily early on, but remembered what he was supposed to be doing and took on the leader mid-race. That was a bad idea as he ran out of steam after a very slow jump at fence twelve and ended up beaten a long way. He once ran quite well in a bumper, but it seems to have been an accident.

Summitwillhappen (PU): Pulled up on her race debut and repeated it here after a slow jump at the first open ditch, and a very slow jump at the next obstacle.

Race 2: Lingfield Equine Vets South East Hunts Club Members Conditions

1: Franks A Million     2: Cheltenham Mati     3: Rocky Island

Winner owned: The Turner Family, trained: Ed Turner, ridden: Rupert Stearn

Franks A Million (1st): Went through the first mile or so at the back and then moved up to get involved seriously. Mistakes at fences ten and eleven did not help his cause, but it was close all the way until he won it by means of a better jump at the last fence. After pulling up in his first three races this season, he has flourished recently and is definitely a springtime horse.

Cheltenham Mati (2nd): Prominent early on, she ended up in rear after a major mid-race shuffle, but regained her spot soon after. At the second last she was probably marginally the favourite to deliver the goods, but just like the last meeting here, she found herself being outstayed on the rise to the line. She is another five year old with scope to strengthen up, and as she is not doing too badly this season anyway, there is every reason for optimism.

Rocky Island (3rd): Led to the second fence, but was pulling hard and the wasted energy took a toll later in the race. He was hanging on in touch, without looking likely to win, when a bad mistake at the sixteenth ended all hope. The official margin was quoted as six lengths behind Cheltenham Mati, but the time margin was in the region of five seconds, so that can be trebled.

The Master Remover (PU): Took up front running duties at the eighth, but made an horrendous mess of the eleventh and dropped out to the rear. Gradually losing touch from there, he was well adrift when pulled up before the second last.

Race 3: Foxwood Maclean Ladies Open

1: Wor Rom     2: Bavard Court

Winner owned: The Cockerell Cowing Racing Partnership, trained: Rose Grissell, ridden: Tabitha Worsley

Wor Rom (1st): Led at a slow pace and turned it into a fascinating tactical race between two horses that have not been at their best for most of this season. The pace picked up three out, and having used up little energy before then, Wor Rom was able to fend off his challenger by about the margin that divided them throughout.

Bavard Court (2nd): Stalked the leader all the way, two lengths down even at the line. He is the sort of horse who is vulnerable in races like this, because he rarely gives the impression of just putting his head down and doing what the rider asks of him. If he was human, he would be the kind of person that leaves half-finished cryptic crosswords all over the place.
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Put the two horses like this in any background and it is a fair reflection of the race. Wor Rom leads. Bavard Court doesn’t.

Race 4: Brian Perring Memorial Mens Open

1: The Ferbane Man

Winner owned & trained: Petra New, ridden: Shane Roche

The Ferbane Man (1st): A walkover that may yet prove decisive in the area men’s title race.

Race 5: Montreal Estate Restricted

1: Legend To Be     2: Wonderful Present

Winner owned & trained: Sarah Humphrey, ridden: Richard Collinson

Legend To Be (1st): Led until briefly passed by his one opponent three out and then went on again in the home straight for a seven lengths margin. He had shown a small glimmer of potential in 2015 and then lost it totally in 2016. This season has gone much better, with actual finishes becoming a habit and he has now won two in a row. It has to be doubted whether he is ready to raise his game to Intermediate level.

Wonderful Present (2nd): Won a decent maiden at Dingley late last season but has not flourished in 2017. To be alongside the winner with every chance with two fences to jump is by far the closest he has managed. To be left standing in the end suggests that he has not turned the corner yet.
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Legend To Be does not have forever to live up to his name, although due to referencing the future, he never actually can. Going around in front of Wonderful Present, whose best has been in the past, will have to do for now.

Race 6: RH and RW Clutton South East Hunts Club Members Veteran & Novice Riders

1: See You Jack

Winner owned & trained: Miss MDM Howie, ridden: Beth Mellish

See You Jack (1st): Found himself left with a two mile school around after the only opponent unseated at fence six. As he had been pulling hard early on, this was not a formality, but there was only a single very minor wobble before the task was completed.

Carry On Asian (UR): Led until unseating at the sixth. As he already had two unseats this season, it was an outcome that could be anticipated without excess analysis of the possibilities.
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