BOOKIES 3 PUNTERS 3 – Score draw
Firstly, the organisers deserve much credit for getting this meeting on at this new course, having battled to defeat the recent very wet weather. The jockeys I spoke with praised the condition of the course and the fences. The track is quite sharp with almost three circuits.
A lot of familiar old faces graced both sides of the betting ring at the new venue. A lot of smiling faces in fact from the ten men with the satchels after the first two races.
Will Biddick’s first ride of the season, four year old Queens Legacy in the young horse Maiden was always a shade of odds-on with 4-5 ruling at the off. She slipped up when holding every chance on the final bend, but this granddaughter of Panda Shandy is sure to winraces. The winner Macca’s Stowaway looked fit, but was friendless in the ring and drifted from 7-2 to 6-1. Her form under rules looked suspect, but she stormed home under 41-year-old Merv Woodward, who was deputising in the saddle for temporarily sidelined owner/trainer Jimmy Cole. The runner up Janeslittlevoice (8’s to 5’s) kept on but was no match for the winner.
Nine of the ten entries for the second race (Conditions) turned up. Hello George was originally chalked up at 4-1 in a place, but that was soon snapped up, and the useful ex-Hobbs gelding, now in Will Biddick’s yard and ridden by the talented Frenchman Nathan Vergne, started 7-4 favourite. I have rarely seen two horses going hammer and tongs well clear out in front like Hello George and Marten (12’s into 10’s) for the best part of the last mile and a half. They raced stride for stride with neither giving an inch until Evan David and Marten got the verdict on the nod right on the post. Mary Vestey trains the winner, who seemed to have lost his way under rules , for her father (Lord Vestey) at Stowell Park
Okay, two-nil to the bookies, but the punters soon got one back thanks to The Roestone (solid evens fav) who only had a ten minutes trip to the track from just up the road at Thorverton. The Vinnie Roe gelding relished the ground under Tom Chanin and was always holding Mr Jaggers (9-2) after third home Second Chapter (5-4 from 2’s) had ruined his chance with a blunder three out.
I thought that Bishops Road was the goods in the Mixed Open, but he drifted from 4-6 to evens fav, and couldn’t get to grips with Don Bersy (3’s into 7-4) despite Bradley Gibbs putting up 5 lbs overweight on the winner. After his usual hesitancy at the start, DonBersy was soon in front and was always holding Bishops Road. The winners trainer Ryan Potter runs a shrewd yard at Ross-on-Wye and is worth keeping an eye on this season
Punters got it right in the Intermediate with Waterloo Warrior (4-6. Evens, 4-5 fav), given a typical Biddick ride to overcome Robin Why Not (9-4 to 2’s). The Warrior took command on the bottom bend. Formerly a Colin Tizzard inmate, Waterloo Warrior had suffered from seconditis under rules and was far from straightforward. He could make into a fair pointer.
The getting out stakes ( Open Maiden) saw the obligatory Welsh trained winner as Iusetaluvheronce (memories of the Saw Doctorssong) made all under a positive ride from Byron Moorcroft to land the odds (10-11 fav from 6-4). This seven-year-old had only modest form under rules but looks capable of scoring again. The inexperienced JoeTidball gave the runner up Ticklebellylane (14’s to 12’s) a grand ride for a novice.