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Woodford, 27/4/19

Berkeley

There are still plenty of people around whose musical nostalgia is “Rainy Night In Georgia.” They need to get out more and enjoy a windy day in Gloucestershire. Admittedly it was a bit unseasonally nippy when the clouds caught up with the sun, but in such a soothing rural location, the rest of the time was really rather pleasant. Shame that there were not more runners at a meeting which us distant travellers who had never been before would associate with top notch racing, especially in the maidens. The only criticism would be that the big screen did not display the results of races, so in one instance where a close call for third was announced whilst in the loo, the official 1-2-3-4 never got heard.

Lack of diligence meant that no notes were taken on how successful in a crosswind the air rifle shooting and archery proved to be. Olympic selection is not likely to be affected.

Going: Good

Race 1: Hopkins Family Members

1: R Bren     2: Model Cloud     3: Get Rhythm

Winner owned: Will Gaskins, Mrs Diana Gaskins & Mrs Lucy Houldey, trained & ridden: Sam Jukes

Just to clarify that this was for Members etc of the hunt, not the Hopkins Family. Court In Flight departed early and the other four took it quite cautiously until very late in the race. Oddly the strong crosswind seemed to have a worse effect on them when heading towards the finish than when galloping away from it. Perhaps horses like castles and windfarms as a distraction from the weather, although the latter could hardly be totally disassociated. After winning a maiden at Kingston Blount, R Bren had blotted her copybook with an unseat but after a few slow and careful early jumps she was fine at the fences and was just about keeping well backed Model Cloud at bay when that mare fluffed the last. Two mile handicap chaser Get Rhythm unastonishingly failed to stay from the third last but retained third from Festive Day.

Race 2: Richard Cornock Open Maiden (4-6v year olds), 2m 4f

1: Dino Boy     2: Vincs Vinnie     3: Signed And Sealed

Owned & trained: Thomas Faulkner, ridden: Tommie O’Brien

In advance this appeared to be a choice of two of the five runners. Would Dino Boy, second on debut then a faller, see his jumping hold up against ex-flat horse Signed And Sealed, a slow starter in points but second at Garthorpe last time? Dino Boy had no more jumping scares than the average maiden and kept on strongly for the win, but he was helped by the strange race that Signed And Sealed ran. Settled at the back, he was inclined to jump right quite often and was stuck with an awful lot to do four out. He pinched second two fences from the finish, then weakened and got demoted one place on the run-in. Vincs Vinnie had a pointing career that involved two pulled ups in Ireland and a slip up and a pulled up in Britain before today. This time he completed and did so running a race, not just taking any safe option to get round. Might there be something better just around the corner or is his proximity a curse on the race? Bear in mind that Sheldon Cooper, a very modest Irish hurdler who got some market support, was only beaten about eight lengths fourth. Please spare us from a gruesomely unfunny spin-off. Jack Morgan completed in fifth, the first time in his four race career that a race has been 100% done from pillar to post. He was not nearly as far off of the paced as might have been expected.
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A Woodford panorama - left to right the tiny horses are Dino Boy, Sheldon Cooper, Vincs Vinnie, Jack Morgan and Signed And Sealed. But in this detail, anything could have been made up and only a person with a racecard from the day could ever dispute it.

Race 3: Huntsman Country Inn, Falfield Conditions

1: Spanish Fleet     2: Toowoomba

Winner owned: AK Collins, trained: Elisabeth Collins, ridden: Dan Cherriman

Only three declared for this and one of those was withdrawn. That left Spanish Fleet to toy with Toowoomba for two and a half miles and eventually win fairly easily. Actually make that very easily. Toowoomba has not really taken to points, failing to translate his 2m 4f Rules stamina into a little bit longer for the amateur game, but Spanish Fleet never won beyond 2m 3.5f in handicap company and gained all of his wins in November 2014. Now all of a sudden he is 131 in points and looking the part. After the day, the trained of withdrawn Moscow Blaze posted on the Jumping For Fun forum ruing having to miss out on being able to run in a race that was such an opportunity and described the horse as “a complete twit.” Note the important use of a w and an i. We can presume that the reason for withdrawal was entirely self inflicted.
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Spanish Fleet is a tad smug about beating one other horse

Race 4: Burges Salmon Restricted

1: Stay Out Of Court     2: Bonanza Sam     3: Prove Me Wrong

Winner owned: The Wintle Family, trained: Jane Broad, ridden: Zac Baker

Another race which appeared to be choice of two horses, but as only four took part, that was hardly an unusual circumstance for the numbers. The favourite Bonanza Sam was trying to defy the adverse stats for a once raced maiden winner being elevated to restricted level, but the lack of oppo made this a better opening than many face. His main danger was Stay Out Of Court, who only had one win from seven races but has hit the places several times in defeat and apparently had the quality to take the step up in a race like this one. Bonanza Sam had also won his race at 2m 4f and by going off in front Stay Out Of Court stayed out of trouble (bar jumping left at a couple) and challenged Bonanza Sam’s stamina. The favourite’s staying power was threatening to last, but perhaps in vain, when a mistake two from home knocked the stuffing out of him. He was not in danger of losing second to plodological Prove Me Wrong but Stay Out Of Court had flown the coop after it. Master Hide, who took eighteen tries before getting a win, is working hard to run up another losing streak and unseated at the third last. He was close to the first two at the time (we think – the scribbled racecard note seems to tread ‘pshwy’) but history tells us he would have done nothing with it.

Race 5: Fred Pitman Mixed Open

1: Chasforgold     2: Robin Des People     3: Brackloon High

Winner owned: CJ Bennett, trained: Emma Alvis, ridden: Sam Jukes

Only five turned up for this, and from the third last it appeared as if winning machine Robin Des People had the race in the bag. For reasons unknown he tied up from final fence and had Chasforgold and Brackloon High bearing down on him from either side. Initially it looked as if Brackloon High was going to nick the race, but one last enthusiastic surge from Chasforgold got him home by a neck, with half a length more back to Brackloon High. Chasforgold is no mug on his day and whilst this season had not been going well, this was only a bounce back to what he can do when in the mood. And the final completer Sarazen Bridge has been in good form as well, although his wins had gone up to Intermediate and Conditions level, but not Open. He was only beaten four lengths in the end, so looks capable of Open success. The final runner, More Than Luck, disproved his name by unseating at fence eleven.    
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Just after fence one and Chasforgold leads Brackloon High, More Than Luck, Sarazen Bridge and Robin Des People

Race 6: Gifford Circus PPORA Novice Riders

1: William Money     2: Orange Nassau     3: Premier Portrait

Winner owned & trained: David Brace, ridden: Jack Tudor

One of the worries of this season has been the lack of runners in novice riders races. Historically they have been very popular with riders, even if they were ending up paired with a horse that would take all day to complete a lap if it was necessary for a safe completion. This year the crowds of trundlers have not been there, and only four horses went to post for this. It did include two proven Open standard horses but Premier Portrait did not have a good day and was relegated to last after some wayward late jumping, only to sneak back up for third on the line. William Money, a more prolific winner, managed to turn this situation into a very easy success but it was only three fences out that he shook off Orange Nassau – a horse with seasonal form of UPPU6 and only one victory from eighteen pointing runs. Even arguing that Orange Nassau excelled himself still leaves reservations about how well William Money actually performed on the day. Premier Portrait’s late effort deprived Itstimeforapint of third place. That horse had posted results of 321 in his first three pointing runs so it now seems that he has got bewildered and decided to start again from scratch.

Race 7: Monex Group Open Maiden

1: Red Nika     2: Mothers Rest     3: Here Comes Molly

Winner owned: Tom Lacey, trained: Sophie Lacey, ridden: Tommie O’Brien

This attracted the biggest field of the day with six horses but it was a long way short of the high quality maidens that the track developed a reputation for staging. Half the line up were Tik Tak – a nine year old with one career completion, Give A Hoot – in his seventh unsuccessful season but at least finishing races lately and Here Comes Molly – in her fifth season. The latter did manage third but only inherited it when Cashmoll fell at the last. When that happened Cashmoll was only a length down, rallying from being seemingly beaten three out when Red Nika went on. Red Nika was odds-on for this racing debut, which reflected the limited challenge against him. It was not certain that he was going to win given Cashmoll’s fightback, but given that he did not look super racefit but was also a bit leggy and needing growing time plus showed signs of greenness in the paddock, he can probably improve a lot on this. Expect him, however, to be sold to someone whose common sense has switched off temporarily for more than he is worth after this triumphant debut. Mothers Rest who also seemed to need the race, inherited a distant second, with Here Comes Molly harassing her and the portly Tik Tak finished to get fourth. Give A Hoot unseated. One of the non-arrivals deserves a mention. Being by Trans Island and out of Queen Of The Blues, it is possible that Wang Dang Doodle has the best name in horse racing. If only a jockey called Willie Dixon could be found to ride him. For non-blues fans, Willie Dixon wrote the song Wang Dang Doodle, but in typing it up, it occurs that a jockey named Willie Dixon would just make it even funnier.
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