SCENES STRIKES AGAIN
The second Penshurst meeting had the perfect combination of fine weather and safe ground, which meant the abundant crowd had six highly competitive races to enjoy.
Behind The Scenes was the leading horse in the area going into the meeting and he left even further clear, winning a competitive Ladies Open to increase his unbeaten tally at the course to four from four. Ella Darwin is now joint at the top of the Ladies Championship table with Rose Grissell, which is remarkable given she has only ever had five rides, all on Behind The Scenes. The thirteen year old proved that age is no barrier, showing too much speed and resolution for the odds on favourite Volcan Surprise, who at seven years old is almost half the old-timers age.
Just a neck behind Behind The Scenes here last time was fellow veteran Counting House, who strengthened that form by winning the Club Members Conditions race under Anna Sansom. Anna was riding her first winner for eight years, making a remarkable comeback from a horrific leg injury that had doctors advising her to never ride again. She broke her ankle in 2010 and wore a cast for a full year but the road to recovery isn’t over yet; she is hoping her final operation will be this June before another three months in plaster. She gave the twelve year old a patient ride and managed to avoid the carnage when Cork Twenty Ten and Do You Follow Me ran through the wing at the seventh fence.
There was a third girl to win on the day, as Hannah Jones recorded her first winner on her own Ballybrack Dancer. With stamina in doubt Hannah gave an impressively patient ride, dropping her eight year old mare right out of contention for much of the race. With a circuit to go the pair were still over fifteen lengths off the lead and it seemed like they had it all to do. ‘Bracken’ made up rapid ground on the final circuit, with Hannah reporting that she was still pulling hard coming into the final fence. Once clearing the last Hannah finally let her go and she stormed up the run in to win comfortably from Bollin Ali ridden by Charlie Marshall.
In doing so Hannah denied Charlie a double, as he had won the first race of the day on the Nick Pearce trained Conkies Lad. Always at the head of affairs, Charlie let Festival Bound and Frankie Anson join him over the final two fences, before pressing go turning up into the straight. The response was instantaneous, with the nine year finishing off the race like a five furlong sprinter, putting ten lengths between himself and the Rosie Turner ridden Frankie Anson. The win marked the end of a frustrating spell for Charlie, who had not won for over a year but had hit the cross bar several times, including finishing runner-up four times over Easter.
Phil Hall is well on his way to a third successive championship and he increased his lead when winning the Mens Open on Adept Approach. The nine year old had won on his comeback from injury at Aldington a fortnight ago and he was sent off the odds on favourite to follow up. He had some tougher opposition this time but he won comfortably on ground that is probably a bit faster than ideal. Hall was recording his eighth winner of the season, bringing him up to 100 wins in point-to-points, with a further nine under rules.
He looked certain to make a start on his next century in the Restricted race, when trying to give Nick Pearce a double on Aldington winner Jenna Pride. She was getting the better of the Phil York ridden Spiritofchartwell from two out, but gave way to previous Penshurst winner Kingsfold Flare, who came with a rattling run under Wayne Russell to grab the lead on the line. Kingsfold Flare was initially bought as a hunter for Russell’s wife Suzie, but now looks a smart pointing prospect having won both her starts this season. The next stop is the Maiden Final at Fontwell, where the shorter trip should prove ideal for a horse with such a turn of foot.