The Ross Harriers fixture at Monmouth Showground had a baptism of fire on Sunday afternoon. The course was due to open last year but bad weather resulted in those plans being abandoned, so Sunday’s meeting was the first real test of its true potential.
The new course received tremendous support from owners and trainers with nearly 70% of the entries running and that resulted in three races being divided on the day.
West Midland stables enjoyed three successes but had near misses in several others but the performance of the day was provided by Magheral Express who overcame an absence of almost 2-1/2 years to prevail in the Restricted.
Dave Mansell had the unconsidered outsider tucked away just behind the leaders as Double You Be set the early pace. Clive Hitchings’s runner was placed on 5 occasions last year and it finally looked as though he would break his duck on this side of the Irish Sea when he led on the home turn.
Mansell’s mount was still going easily and came through to take the lead approaching the 17th and stormed clear to win easing down by 6-lengths.
Magherall Express and Dave Mansell storm to victory in the Restricted
The winning jockey confided afterwards “We were not expecting that, I thought as he had been off the course for so long, he would run out of steam by three out, but he just keeps galloping and was running away with me turning for home – he just kept going”.
Off the course with leg problems the winner has been nursed back to health by Hasfield trainer Julie Mansell and was carrying the colours of local farmer Keith Bayliss.
Dave Mansell with owner Keith Baylis
The Conditions was split on declaration with Jason Warner’s Mister Dix running a fine race in defeat before being beaten by Kings Cross in Division I, while the finish of Division II was fought out by Following Mama (Diana Ralph) and Rigadin de Beauchene (James Ridley).
The latter was biding to give the Kinnersley trainer his second winner of the weekend but began to drop back after a couple of circuits. Alex Edwards and Following Mama began to make up ground racing down the riverside and continued to make steady progress before the mare was pushed into the lead approaching 3 out.
Following Mama (gold) cling onto the lead from Northgeorge (blue and white) and the fast finishing Rigadin de Beauchene (maroon and green)
Rigadin de Beauchene was last at this point, but his stamina came to the fore as they climbed towards the finish. He made up a significant amount of ground over the final three fences and was eating into the leaders advantage on the flat but was still three quarters of a length in arrears as they passed the judge. The runners up jockey Zac Baker explained “the horse ran well but I did not want to bottom him out on his first run”.
Local stables are enjoying a purple patch at the moment and Following Mama’s win added to Encounter A Giants success for the Diana Ralph yard at Bangor last weekend.
Maxwell Youngs Bluebell Sally and Emma Alvis’s Jeans Lady both had victory snatched away from them in the closing stages of the two divisions of the Mares Maiden.
Bluebell Sally was 8-lengths clear racing down the back straight in Division I but that advantage had been significant reduced by Robbina who moved into the leaders shadow at the second from home. Young’s runner led over the last but had nothing more to give and was passed in the final 25 yards.
Robbina (nearside) sweeps past Bluebell Sally to claim Division I of the Mares Maiden
Zac Baker was content to follow the leader Ballina Lady for a majority of Division II, but with her effort petering out turning for home Jeans Lady was left in front. Tommie O’Brien then produced Get Rio with a well-timed run to lead approaching two out and Jeans Lady had to settle for the runners up berth.
Jeans Lady (pink) has to settle for second place behind Get Rio in Division II
Gabrial the Great’s rivals had difficulty keeping up with his strong pace in the Mixed Open but the noteable exception was Spencer Moon who passed his tiring rival before the final open ditch.
These two had drawn well clear by this point and only Josephine Banks and Vasco du Mee were able to offer any resistance in the home straight. Commentator Ed Dingle’s assessment proved correct “Vasco du Mee is closing on the leader but not quickly enough”.
Well Mett (blue colours) was well beaten in the Mixed Open
West Midland trained runners had to be content with yet another placing in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden, in which 11 of the 13 entries faced the starter.
Jason Warner’s Not At All disputed the lead with Caveat Emptor until that horse departed at the third from home. Not At All was left clear but Peter Mason produced newcomer Bonanza Sam to pass the leader in the closing stages.
Not At All is not foot perfect at the last as Bonanza Sam (left) jumps it on level terms
The placed hoodoo for local horses was broken by Grove Castle in Division I of the 3-mile Maiden. Tommie O’Brien was content to keep a watching brief while Ardview Boy and Bourbon Prince set the pace, before O’Brien producing his mount with impeccable timing to lead between the final two fences. The Ledbury qualified gelding quickly put daylight between himself and his rivals to provide another winner for trainer Ryan Potter.
Grove Castle swoops late to provide trainer Ryan Potter with another winner
The final race of the day resulted in another placing for the West Midlands as Round Robin made the frame yet again.
Charlie Dando rode his first winner of the season in the Restricted at Badbury Rings. Everybodys Talkin is trained by Charlie’s partner Brooke Gardener-Wollen and the Beaufort qualified runner was 15-lengths clear of Askers Lad and Lawson’s Thorns at the post.
Ed Walker’s Ottery St Mary stable sent out a winner at the East Cornwall fixture at Great Trethew, where the trainers Berkeley qualified Rosie’s Present proved too good for his rivals in Division II of the JRL sponsored Flat Race.
CONDITIONS – DIVISION I
1ST KINGS CROSS C DAVIES 9-2
CONDITIONMS – DIVISION II
1ST FOLLOWING MAMA A EDWARDS 4-1
MARES MAIDEN – DIVISION I
1ST ROBBINA J TUDOR 7-2
MARES MAIDEN – DIVISION II
1ST GET RIO T O’BRIEN 7-4
1ST SPENCER MOON B MOORCROFT 9-4
1ST MAGHERAL EXPRESS D MANSELL 20-1
2-1/2 MILE MAIDEN
1ST BONANZA SAM P MASON 7-1
3-MILE MAIDEN – DIVISION I
1ST GROVE CASTLE T O’BRIEN 5-2
3-MILE MAIDEN – DIVISION II
1ST CORBETT COURT B MOORCROFT 8-1