2013 will be etched into the memory for years to come; it will be remembered by most as the year it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and we saw flooding of biblical proportions. With four meetings lost, three of them consecutively, many thought the season was a write off. However, on the days that survived, we saw some fantastic racing.
Success story of the season was Phil Hall, amassing no less than 10 winners from his small stable of four horses. When he had a treble at the first South East meeting he attended, no one could have believed that the winning streak would continue throughout the season. If those four meetings had survived he could have had more than 10 winners and could have brought the national trainer’s award to the South East.
Another who had a superb season was Cynthia Haydon (Woods), who had 7 winners from her four horses, five of those supplied by the tenacious Little Legend. Little Legend showed he has come of age this season, with improved jumping he dispatched of some very good horses with ease.
Oz Wedmore set out the gate early in his third season, and was a runaway winner of the novice rider’s award. In fact he was leading the main championship after the first meeting and finished second overall. Getting more and more outside rides he will soon become an established rider.
Leading horse of the area was the super mare Dusshera. In 2011 she impressed when winning three consecutive races in just her first season, before spending 2012 hunter chasing. This season she ran solely in the area, despite suffering defeat on her first three starts, her enthusiasm did not wane, and she recorded three wins in quick succession.
The first meeting of the season was postponed a week due to snow and frost, but this did nothing to stop people from bringing their horses, and there was very competitive racing. The day was not dominated by Phil Hall as he did not attend, in his place Phil York won just about everything. The only race he didn’t have a hand in winning was the Ladies, in which Dusshera was a close second. In the end he trained four of the six winners, and rode a treble. Of those three we saw Freddies Return making a comeback to regain the Kent Grand National, and the mighty Dantes Storm having an easy time of disposing of the very useful Noakarad De Verzee.
A week later at Godstone the ground was so heavy there was a chance of striking oil. Lots of horses struggled, but three who didn’t were three that Phil Hall rode; first three rides in the South East and all three won, it set the trend for the rest of the season. No other South East jock had any luck, Noakarad De Verzee proved he could do it with ease without Dantes Storm in the field, and Mark Wall invaded to ride a double.
Back to Charing and the Phil Hall bandwagon continued rolling, the only horse he didn’t win on was Adept Approach, but he was under par and he went on to prove himself later in the season in no uncertain terms. Glint Of Steel and Broughton Green both followed up their Godstone wins with more success. The day saw a double for the Grissell yard, sending out homebred Rear Gunner to win the Ladies with Hannah on, and Owenacurra took the Men’s with owner Stuart Robinson doing the steering. The five year old Lexington Town impressed when taking the maiden with ease and is an exciting prospect for connections. Oh and Phil York had another winner when Merry Albert won the short maiden.
The South East didn’t race again until the next Charing on Easter Saturday. Godstone, Parham and Penshurst were all lost to a colossal amount of rain that lasted for three weeks solid. All received huge entries and it was frustrating for just about everyone.
Oz Wedmore impressed at Charing when riding his first winner of the season. Mr Bed Bugs had a bit of a reputation as a tear away and was fitted with a first time hood, this and Oz’s gentle hands did the trick as they led all the way to draw a long way clear with Welsh invader and subsequent winner Moon Stream. Day Time Run proved himself when hammering the field in the three mile maiden, he led from the start and no horse could get near him as he won in a canter in almost the fastest time of the day, with four subsequent winners in behind. The horse who bettered his time was the exciting Glint Of Steel, who made short work of Dusshera to land the conditions race. Dusshera then went on to win her next three races. Phil started his treble with the injury-plagued No Pain No Gain, who we only saw once; he looked to tie up on the home bend but found a late surge of speed to make up an enormous amount of ground to dead heat with Dunraven Prince, who has won twice since. Broughton Green won his third race in a row when running away from them in a very competitive Mixed Open.
Two days later at Aldington, despite Phil Hall’s exploits at Charing, punters allowed Adept Approach to drift out to 10/1. He rewarded his loyal supporters by defeating the unbeaten and short priced favourite Freddies Return in a hugely exciting race. Jody Sole reconfirmed his love affair with the course by riding a double for Ian Cobb; Bit Of A Clown scored in the restricted before the talented Crazy Eyes enjoyed a facile win in the concluding conditions race. Little Legend was seen at his best, hammering Mid Div And Creep into submission, and somehow supporters allowed him to go off second favourite to the mare. Form followers wouldn’t have been surprised when Flying Change scored in the Hunt race and Irish form followers will have filled their pockets when Paddycards won the maiden.