Thetford trainer David Kemp proved again that Garthorpe is a happy hunting ground for him as he scored a treble in consecutive races on Sunday. There were also doubles for trainer Tom Ellis and jockey Dale Peters.
Genuinely good ground resulted in 42 runners at a time of year when lack of rain has made track preparations hard in some areas. Clerk of the course Jim Culloty had been confident that the grass cover had retained plenty of moisture, and rain in the days leading up to the fixture freshened the surface up still more.
The headline race of the day was the Saffery Champness Mixed Open, won by Law Of Gold and Dale Peters. “He really needed another run”, Trainer David Kemp told me three weeks ago, when Law of Gold was second to Premier Magic in the Open, and he was proved right when the ten-year-old romped home to win this by five lengths. Precious Bounty, the mount of Gina Andrews, was leading approaching the last and, to many eyes, looked to have it won, but Dale Peters asked for another push from the winner to secure the victory. “You’re always asking him for a bit more,” Dale said. Dandy Dan (Miss L. Keen-Hawkins) was the third horse home.
The first race of the afternoon was the Conditions race sponsored by The George Bar. Ten runners started this race and it proved to go as the ratings suggested, giving David Kemp another win with his eight-year-old Milan gelding Ballinagore, ridden by Alex Chadwick. The winner definitely looked stronger having come fourth in his first run of the season in a similar race here at the Melton Hunt Club meeting, running away well to win, despite a poor jump at the last. David Kemp said, “He was in a hot race for the grade last time and I think it woke him up to big boys racing. He’s been in smaller fields, restricted maidens, up to that point, but as a result he’s really come forward.” Morning Vicar (Rupert Stearn) have provided a good contest until the final stages and finished thirteen length behind the winner, with Neumond (Jack Andrews) a further eleven lengths behind them.
The third leg of the Kemp treble came in the third race of the day, the Retraining of Racehorses and The Jockey Club Veteran Horse Conditions race, where Rupert Stearn was able to improve on his second place in the first race with a very impressive win aboard Clara Sorrento. The twelve-year-old grey was another who improved as a result of the Conditions race at the Melton Hunt Club meeting, opting this time to lead a race with slightly less pace from the front. Hadmeathello (Miss C. Emsley) came in second, some way behind, and General Custard (T. L. Frogley) was a length or two behind them. Favourite Al Shahir (Jack Andrews) was pulled up with a couple to jump.
Ellie Holder rode Champagne Noir to win the next, The Witham Hall School Conditions Race for Novice Riders, beating favourite Millbank Flyer (Edward Rees) by seven lengths, with Imperial Acolyte (Miss K. L. Featherstone) a long way back in third place. Tom Ellis said, “I’m really pleased for her because she’s a great little jockey and tactically very aware. They had a mishap last time out at Revesby so this was great.”
Dale Peters completed his double in the Renovation Underwriting Restricted on Mountain Assault, owned by his Father, in the closest finish of the day. Harbour Queen (Miss C. Emsley) had led over the last after favourite Champagne Glory (Jack Andrews), leader for much of the race, had hit the second last and lost ground. These three then contested the run-in, Mountain Assault getting it on the nod on the line.
The last race of the day was the Maiden, sponsored by Pork Pie specialists Dickinson & Morris, and once again there was a battle between the yards of David Kemp and Tom Ellis. Ontherunagain (Jack Andrews), trained by Stuart Morris, led for much of the race, but in the final stages it was All The Ammunition (Dale Peters) for David Kemp, I’m Spellbound (Gina Andrews) for Tom Ellis and Mount Pleasant (Archie Wright) for Nick Wright who were stronger. The second fence was bypassed after damage to the wing in the first lap so it was a very long run-in and this seemed to suit I’m Spellbound who pulled away for an impressive win by about eight lengths. “There’s plenty of room for improvement on his jumping,” Gina Andrews said, “but he can definitely gallop so hopefully his owners are going to have some fun with him.”