05 April 2011 Scene & Heard: Ledbury - Maisemore Park
by Carolyn Tanner
Under a perfectly-timed ride from his trainer Sally Randell, Surenaga's finishing speed proved too much for his rivals in the Mixed Open at Maisemore, where a total of 98 horses contested the eight races.
"He does his best work in the last half mile," explained Sally, who before the race admitted "I've been having kittens all morning about riding him." Not that she doesn't enjoy the experience - the partnership won Sandown's Royal Artillery Gold Cup in February - but she had been expecting to leg up Ben Poste to give horse and rider the chance to get used to one another prior to their participation in the Lady Dudley Cup.
Ben, however, had been stood down in the oddest of circumstances, Having had a fall at Ystradowen the previous weekend, after which his medical card was returned to him, he had ridden under Rules during the week, scoring on Jolly Boys Outing at Towcester, but on Thursday was informed that he had to take a concussion test before being allowed to ride again.
Surenaga is the first horse owned by Ken Price, who admitted "We bought him as an afterthought to have a bit of fun with before a young horse I own was ready to run."
Runner-up to Surenaga was Paul Miles's Lady Myfanwy, whose rider John Mathias went one better in the Intermediate on the same owner's Findlay's Find, a victory which took him into the outright lead in the Men's Championship. "He's very laid-back," smiled his trainer, Paul's wife Myfanwy, who has recently completed a course of chemotherapy, "but he launched me once last year so I don't ride him any more. He's a Houdini at getting out of his rugs," she added. "You turn him out and in ten minutes he's undone them."
The 2m5f PPA/HSS Maiden was won by the debutant Desert Joe, who was found for Don Constable, as are many of his horses, by Eddie Barry.
"I'd like to thank Don for his patience, and Mike [her husband] for riding him at home," smiled trainer Zoe Hammond. "It took five months before we could sit on him, and we tied a dummy to his stable wall to give him something to focus on. It's not often I feel like crying, but this is so rewarding."
"I lost an iron at one fence and nearly came off him so it's a good job I'm getting a bit windy and I ride a bit long," laughed rider Dave Mansell, for whom it was a 150th career success (see Landmarks).
Division One of the 3m Maiden, which was split on the day, went to Adrian Wintle on Themanfromfraam, owned by Tony Somers and Keith Johnson and trained by the latter's daughter-in-law Fiona, whose husband Richard and father Noel Chance were on hand to witness the triumph.
Themanfromfraam, who had cost just 800gns when purchased at Ascot as a three-year-old, was trained under Rules by Keith's wife Sue, but he is now stabled with Richard and Fiona, and is ridden out mostly by Gemma Davis.
He has had two lengthy absences due to injury. He was off for two years after breaking down at Stratford in 2007, and three runs back he cut his off hind pastern when twisting a shoe at Hereford.
"A young lad named Burton went and schooled it, but he had to go to Whittington so I got the ride," commented a straight-faced Adrian, adding "He'll have a job to get it back now."
Jackie Hunt's yard has been hit by a virus this season, but Halfway Cut's victory in Division Two showed the horses are returning to health. The nine-year-old, who is owned by Jackie and her daughter Rheanna Lobley, was limited to one outing last year after injuring his back. "We thought he might not get the trip," confessed Jackie, whose charge had run over hurdles for Alex Hales, for whom Rheanna is head girl.
Jockey Jamie Goss, Rheanna's boyfriend, rides out for Paul Webber, but he will be missing from the Point-to-Point scene next season. At the end of this campaign he is off on his travels and will be spending a year in the States work-riding for Richard Violette in Saratoga.
The classy Nomadic Dreamer, who has run poorly since his impressive victory at the SMAC meeting, found a weight concession to all his rivals no handicap as he enjoyed a confidence-boosting outing in the Conditions race under Liam Payter. "He's a very stressy horse," said trainer Phillip Rowley, who opined that perhaps the Whitfield run had taken more out of the chestnut than was first thought and put the improvement down to "a lot of TLC."
"I think we'll have to keep her away from now on," laughed Juliet Minton of her joint-owner Ann Tolhurst, who has now missed both successes.
Another one to give away weight was Noble Ben, who shouldered a hefty 12st10lbs when landing the Hunt race and thus completing an unbeaten hat-trick for his connections. Rider James Ridley now has a share of the lead in the national novice title race, so plans for Noble Ben, who might otherwise have been sent Hunter Chasing, are currently up in the air.
"We'd like to do everything, but it depends on how James is doing," said owner-trainer Heather Ridley, James's mother, who described Noble Ben as "such a professional,"
"He's not really a horse at all - he's treated like a pet dog," grinned Glyn Slade-Jones after his Go On Paddy Joe had won the Restricted in the hands of Paul Tolman, his only ride of the day. Rob Jarrett would have partnered Go On Paddy Joe had he not been committed to ride Miss Tilly Oscar for Glyn's great friend Steve Flook, and it was the latter who recommended Paul to Glyn.
And of course, it was just Rob's luck that Miss Tilly Oscar finished out of the money, beaten about ten lengths into fourth.
All the connections are here in the winner's enclosure," Glyn pointed out after the race. All one of them, in fact, as Glyn is owner, trainer, leader-upper and gofer!
Overheard: "Tuck your boobs in." Instructions from jockey to trainer as winning connections lined up for the photographer!