It was good to see three bookies at Flete, with Joe Oliver joining Dave Phillips and Rich Pittard in the firing line. We should have known it was not going to be a day for the punters when a couple of unconsidered outsiders fought out the finish of the opening Maiden race. That result was enough to stop me betting for the afternoon.
I thought that the Tom Ellis trained grey Festin D’un Soir (6-4 jt fav) looked the pick of the paddock in the opener, but he was no betting proposition at such short odds. His form in Ireland last autumn was nothing to get excited about and it was not to be an evening feast. In-form jockey Jack Andrews always had him in a good position and he looked the winner coming down the hill, only to run out of steam after two out. He could not go with the Tommie O’Brien ridden Lucky Lucarno (7’s out to 12’s with no form to commend him) and Gunner Vic (13-2 out to 12’s). It was Lucky Lucarno who just got his head in front reaching the judge.
Dr Time (4-6 to 4-5) held favouritism in the Restricted in his bid to follow up his Maiden win on this track two weeks previously. His general form hardly merited odds-on, but he was always in pole position and readily drew away from Thewinnertakeitall (5-1) to win easily. Third placed Dancing Dave was friendless out from 6’s to 10’s and never threatened the leaders.
The shock of the day came in the four miles Ladies’ Open when dear old Southfield Theatre (1-4 to 1-3), after dominating throughout, had no answer as Board of Trade (4-1) pounced on him on the run-in thanks to a well judged ride from Chloe Emsley.
In the Conditions race For Rita (5-4 to 6-4 fav), a nippy looking mare, had obviously handled the downhill run at Aldington to win her Restricted recently. She was probably at home on the gradients here and almost merited a bet at 6-4. James King eased her clear here from the top of the hill to win unchallenged. Runner up Wotzizname (10’s out to 20’s), a former winning chaser under rules for Harry Fry, stayed on steadily for his novice rider without getting too involved. There was money for Mahler Style (4’s to 2’s). She has winning form but had not run since October. She was switched off early by Biddick, but faded tamely when asked at the business end.
Cloudy Music (6-4 to 4-5 fav) was expected to maintain the good form of the Dean Summersby yard in the Novice Riders race, but she has become a bit inconsistent lately and never really threatened. The race, went to Skylander (6-1), giving 16-year-old jockey Otis Morgan a first success in the event run in memory of his late sister Artemis. Skylander is a first class schoolmaster and this was a very apt and poignant success for Otis and his family.
Sheldon Cooper (2’s to evens) displaced The Rosary Flyer (6-4) as favourite at the last minute in the getting out stakes. However it was the flyer who got to the judge in front to secure this Maiden . He cost £45,000 as a three-year-old and had proved a costly disappointment for the Skeltons under rules.
Have you heard the one about the bookie who gave a punter his money back? Well this happened at Flete when a punter, after placing a £100 bet realised he had backed the wrong horse and asked for his money back just before the start. By this time of course the bookie had hedged the bet, but obligingly gave the punter half his stake money back. Incidentally the horse lost. For this bit of gossip, I am indebted to the astute Simon Nott who sums up the betting market for the excellent Area live streaming TV team.
Cover Photo Credit: Athwenna Irons/WMN