Masked is the Man
Picking straight up where he left off last year, Masked Man won the Ladies Open on his first run of the season for owner, trainer and rider Sarah Ashby. Masked Man was delivered late with a well timed ride by Ashby, sweeping past long time leader Bit Of A Clown with ease on the run to the last fence. With last years Open winning regular Rear Gunner not running up to scratch, there could be plenty more opportunities for Masked Man this season.
The following Conditions race was the most dramatic of the day, as three horses appeared to have joined each other on the line. Ray Glennon had kept Definite Ridge up the front all the way, but a rallying effort from Owenacurra saw him seemingly overhauled on the line. On the other side of the course Kornati Kid came just too late and was awarded third for owner-rider James 'Moggy' Rawdon-Mogg who was having only his second ride. The result proved to be somewhat controversial, with the majority spectators convinced that Definite Ridge and Kornati Kid couldn't be separated on the line, while Owenacurra was actually half a length down in third.
The opening 2m 4f maiden was won by Spiritofchartwell, having his first run in a point-to-point for Philip York and Richard Gurney. Success was assured at the final fence, where favourite Part And Parcel fell when upsides, leaving Spiritofchartwell clear to canter home to victory.
The other three races were won by Midlands jockey Sam Davies-Thomas, who could be a regular sight in the South East with local trainer Nick Pearce regularly calling on his services. It was Nick Pearce who provided Sam with his winner in the Restricted, as Come On You made up for getting carried out at Godstone a fortnight ago.
Sam's other two winners came courtesy of Tommy and Kelly Morgan, who have proven to be a talented trainers and have benefitted from getting a couple of Jonjo O'Neill cast-offs. The first of these was Minella For Steak in the 3m 4f Kent Grand National, who was sent off odds on favourite and led from pillar to post to just hold off Charlie Marshall on his family's Lord Multifix. The second winner the Morgan's provided was Shutthebackdoor, a half-brother to Grand National fancy Shutthefrontdoor, and it was perhaps that illustrious pedigree that saw him go off favourite. Like his brother Shutthebackdoor is gifted with stamina and saw out the 3m Open Maiden readily from Nick Pearce's Slidecheck to provide Davies-Thomas with his first treble.