10 January 2012 Scene & Heard: Larkhill Racing Club - Larkhill
by Carolyn Tanner
Description left his dismal Barbury display behind when given a fine front-running ride by Gina Andrews to take the Ladies' Open.
The explanation to the stewards, who duly inquired into the improvement in form, was that a change of jockey, allied to the fact that the horse never travelled at Barbury, had made the difference, and it was also noted that he had changed stables since his first outing.
Description has recently moved from Jenny Gordon to Alan Hill, but Camilla Ewart, who owns the ten-year-old with her partner Jamie Warner, was quick to express her thanks to Jenny for everything she had done.
Camilla herself, who had ridden Description in all his previous runs, was on crutches, having broken her hip in a schooling accident just before Christmas, and Gina, said Alan, was the obvious replacement - "She did exactly what she was asked to."
It was a first ride at Larkhill for Gina, who was recording her 50th success between the flags, and following her home was her younger sister Bridget on Gwanako. Somewhat ironically, Description had been schooled on the Wednesday by Bridget's boyfriend Harry Skelton.
The winner will now go Hunter Chasing, and Gina has already been told by Alan not to accept another ride for Cheltenham!
Owner Ray Geddes enjoyed a one-two in the Men's Open, in which the Barbury scorer According To John, in receipt of 7lbs, got the better of Mustangsallyrally. Like Alan Hill, Ray is looking towards Cheltenham, although According To John needs another Open victory in order to qualify.
This success completed a double for jockey Will Biddick, who is currently well clear in the Men's Championship, and a treble for trainer Richard Barber. The pair had earlier combined to take the Maiden Division One with the debutant Spider Monkey, owned by Jared Sullivan, boss of Potensis, the recruitment company which sponsors the Paul Nicholls yard.
"He was a bit backward and not quick enough for a Bumper," explained Richard's assistant Harry Fry, "so he came to Richard to be improved upon."
Unfortunately, like several horses at the meeting, Spider Monkey is unlikely to be seen out again this season, as he finished lame. The ground, which jockeys felt was quite firm under the top surface, took its toll, and matters were surely not helped by the fact that the crossings had not been covered. "They were rock hard," was the view of two experienced riders.
The middle leg of the Barber treble came in the second Maiden with I'm The Article, partnered by the trainer's grandson Jack, who had been instructed to hold up his mount until after the last. "He's been working very well at home, but he looks at the wings when he's schooling so he wouldn't want to be in front until late," reasoned the handler.
I'm The Article belongs to the six-strong Peckmoor Partnership, one of whom is Jack's father Jeremy.
The one which got away from Barber and Biddick was the odds-on Buck's Bond in the opening Conditions Race Division One, he and Will having no chance of staying together when Cossack Dancer fell right in front of them.
Victory went to Tom Ellis on the Jenny Pidgeon-trained Orient Legend - "the biggest horse I've ever sat on," said the jockey, - owned by Peter Riddle and Paul Clayton. "They deserve it - they're brilliant owners who have been with me for ever and ever!" smiled Jenny, who admitted that she had been petrified of running her charge, who she reported had coughed at Whitfield, as she had been convinced all week that he wasn't right.
"He's woefully slow," she added, a belief strongly refuted by Tom, who averred "He's not as slow as she thinks he is!"
"Now I've won on him maybe she'll let me have a go." For some time Tom has been trying to persuade Jenny to let him have a day's hunting on Orient Legend, but to date nobody else has been permitted to follow hounds on him.
Only two completed in the second division of the Conditions contest, with Coombe Hill (Darren Edwards) being left a long way clear when his nearest challenger Spiders Nephew fell fatally at the last. The winner is trained for Geoff Thompson by Charlotte Tizzard, who is concentrating on training and will not be riding this season. Charlotte has moved to a yard near Bradford-on-Avon with her partner Nick Fear, and with boxes available is hoping to build up her string.
Darren picked up the ride the previous afternoon as a replacement for Rob Hawker, who was claimed for Gort Na Lea. Unfortunately for Rob the latter was withdrawn at the eleventh hour, leaving him to rue what might have been.
Geoff, who has several horses in training under Rules, had returned from Barbados just 24 hours earlier and was not present to see his initial winner between the flags.
The incident-packed afternoon resulted in two calls for the Air Ambulance, and the delays caused the balloting-out of one intended runner, Pippin Fort, in the closing Restricted due to a lack of daylight not allowing for an extra contest.
One of those who took a helicopter ride was Cynthia Haydon, who was knocked out when Little Legend fell in the lead four out in the second Conditions race, and who felt her mode of transport to be somewhat unnecessary. She was allowed home from hospital a couple of hours later and on Monday professed herself to be "fine."
The other airlifted casualty was Suzy Berry, who was also knocked unconscious when Trueflyingcolours fell at the last in the Ladies' Open. Suzy, who is still in Southampton General Hospital, underwent both a CAT scan and X-rays to her neck, which thankfully both proved clear. Her father Tony reported her to be anxious to return home, and it is hoped that she will be discharged within the next couple of days.
Tom Bellamy was another who will need to pass a concussion test before being allowed to ride again. Tom, who was out cold for three minutes when Timall took a fatal fall in the Restricted, was also detained overnight as a precaution, but perhaps the "luckiest" faller was James Cowley, who stood down from his Men's Open ride, Hopkins, after Fen Farm had come to grief in the preceding Maiden.
His place was taken by Ben Poste, who must have been questioning his sanity when Hopkins promptly did the dirty on him, running out at the first and catapulting his rider through the wing.
The reigning national novice champion Micheal Nolan once again advertised his talents when piloting Ray Barrow's Noble Aran to victory in the third Maiden. The son of Beneficial is trained by Ray's daughter Julie Long, who pointed out she had field-Mastered on him all day at the West Somerset Vale's opening meet.
Described as "big and backward last spring," Noble Aran may now go Hunter Chasing. He was purchased by Ray from Dai Walters - "And I've got to give him another £500 now that he's won," laughed his owner.
The popular winner of the Restricted was James Young's Hincheslea Moor, named after an area of the New Forest, who was bought unbroken from Ascot and who proved to be very quirky and not easy to break in. "He's the best horse I've had, or probably will ever have," beamed James, who is joint-secretary of the New Forest meeting. "I'm rather pleased now that I didn't sell him," referring to the fact that he was sent to the Cheltenham May Sale but failed to make his reserve.
Rider David Turner shrugged off the effects of an earlier fall to bring the five-year-old home ahead of the veteran Artic Fire. "It makes a change to get a January winner," he said. "I usually have to wait till at least March."
"I'm lost for words, which is unusual for me." James, though, could not contain his amusement at getting some prize money from race sponsor Seamus Mullins, trainer of Forest Rhythm, in which James has a share. "It's nice to get something back from him!" he commented.