Melton Hunt Club at Garthorpe - Report

Jack Jones (REAL MILAN)

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The Melton Hunt Club hosted their annual meeting at Garthorpe on Sunday 8th May. The card include three pony races and seven horse races, including the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Members Club Novice Rider Championship Final. Elsewhere on the card there was a double for Tom Chatfeild-Roberts.

The feature race included several front-runners and a fast pace was set from the outset by Count Salazar (A. Bradley) and Kriss William (Mrs R. Turner) leading the way, with Qoubilai (Miss C. Crane) and Western Promise (F. Timmis)  in hot pursuit. At the start of the last lap there was a significant gap between the pace setters and the rest but the fast pace was taking its toll and Real Milan (J. Jones) and Susquehanna River (P. Bullard) were able to pick their way back through the field. The one horse to offer some late promise was Western Promise but after the last odds-on-favourite Real Milan had enough left in the tank to pull away and put six lengths between himself and Western Promise, with Susquehanna River six lengths behind them. "He's a loner," trainer Nicholas Jones told me, "and we have to work him on his own, but he is a real superstar and seems to be loving life away from racing under rules."

The mixed open race which followed looked to be a one-horse race on current form and rating and so it turned out, with Thetalkinghorse (T. McClorey) notching up another win for owner Mrs. Moody and trainer Gerald Bailey. It was, though, a variable performance from a horse which seems to like some company when he hits the front. It was the Chatfeild-Roberts' L'Eldorado (T. Chatfeild-Roberts) which provided a bit of incentive on the run-in, forcing the winner to prove there was some speed left, eventually losing by only ¾-length on the line. Bertie's Desire (W. Thirlby) was third.

The afternoon's racing began with three pony races, kindly sponsored by Apatchy. The Novice Conditions race was won by Basford April Rose and Angus Villiers, with Ice Cold Baileys (Violet Barton) in second and Moscombe Seal of Joy (Marcus Haigh) in third. The 138cm Open was won by Push The Button and Sophie Smith, with Stretcholt Hermes and Charlie Todd and Chaceside Catwalk and Benjamin Bromley in second and third. Finally the 148cms Open was won by Archie Frank riding Judge Fox, with Alana Taylor and Lynne in second.

The opening steeplechase of the afternoon was a well-supported Members Conditions race with 15 starters. The two highest-rated horses in the line-up, Third of the Third (S. Davies-Thomas) and Theodore Lamb (H. Nugent) disappointed. Third of the Third went off as favourite but never really looked to have the pace, finishing 8th, the latter fell at the fifth fence. Proximo (J. Andrews), wearing cheekpieces for the first time, travelled well at the front of the field and just had enough of a finish left to hold off Alwaystheoptimist (Miss C. Hart) in the run-in, Grumblers Holt (T. McClorey) and Arkose (W. Thirlby) were in a dead heat for third.

The Restricted was another race with a close finish, Quick Oats (Miss G. Andrews) beating a gutsy Avidius Cassius (J. Hill) in the last  100 metres of the course. Joe Hill had led for much of the race on Avidius Cassius, and was ahead at the last, but dived at it and lost all his momentum, allowing the winner to sneak through. "He's very lazy," co-owner Nigel Padfield of Quick Oats told me, "and he's only done one bit of work since winning his maiden here, but he has clearly recovered well!"

Unfortunately we were short of runners for the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares and Fillies race with only 2 of 10 entries declaring. She's Real (T. Chatfeild-Roberts) set the early pace, which was clearly to plan, and as the race went on it was clear that Dream Mistress (F. Henderson) did not have the ability to keep up on this ground. 32 lengths was the distance.

Tom Chatfeild-Roberts and SHES REAL

Tom Chatfeild-Roberts and SHE'S REAL

The odds-on favourite in the Open Maiden race was Simon Robinson-trained Hurricane Vic (T. Strawson), who many felt had been unlucky when beaten by Quick Oats a fortnight ago on the same course. For much of this race the backers must have felt confident as, along with the Kemps' Give Us Peace (S. Davies-Thomas) , he set a strong pace. However, as the leader turned the corner onto the final straight he began to look weary and, after the last, seemed to slow even more, allowing the well-timed run of Shempas Iron to steal the race by a short-head on the line, giving Tom Chatfeild-Roberts his double. The winning jockey was quick to praise Laura Morgan, who rides the horse at the Bealbys' Grantham yard. "He's unpredictable and can be quirky," owner John Chatfeild-Roberts explained, "but he's a real stayer and this is definitely his ground."

The last race of the day was a 2m 4f Maiden for 4, 5 and 6 year-old horses which was won by Odds On Oscar (favourite, but at 2/1). An unremarkable race nearly became one when the leader clouted the last and Edward Glassonbury did very well to stay on board, finally coming home 3 lengths clear of Holy Dancer (F. Henderson). Assistant trainer Oliver Greenall explained that they have been having a bad run of luck with their horses, Odds On Oscar only recently having recovered from a nasty wound caused after a collision with a car. "We will probably hurdle him next," he told me.

The next Midlands meeting is on Saturday when the Fitzwilliam invite you to Dingley. There are over 150 entries on an eight-race card. E-tickets are available as usual and include a free racecard.

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