Favourite backers left in the cold by Chaddesley conditions
by Russell Smith
Christmas came early for the bookies at Chaddesley Corbett's first meeting of the new pointing term with just one favourite obliging on the seven race card. On a grey afternoon when the rain refused to go away and the mud kept getting deeper, the scene was set for a few upsets and so it proved with punters left reeling as many of the fancied horses simply failed to act on the prevailing conditions.
It soon became a case of get soaked but keep smiling - and one person who was left beaming from ear to ear was rookie handler Sian Brooke after Hung Jury sprang a 33-1 shock in the featured Mixed Open. Partnered by James King, the eight-year-old was always handy on the second circuit before dourly ploughing his way through the sodden conditions up the home straight to get the better of Highway Jewel by two-and-a-half lengths.
An over the moon Brooke, whose day job is working for Martin Keighley at Condicote near Stow-On-The-Wold, said: "We expected him to run well but certainly not to win the way he has as it looked a really classy race beforehand. "We bought the horse privately from Charlie Poste over the summer months and he has been pleasing in his work at home. The hope will be that he can progress from here but days do not come much better as we are all thoroughly delighted."
She added: "James has given him a lovely ride as he was never too far away and when he kicked away entering the home straight we were all cheering away.and shouting him home."
There was no hiding place in the Member's Conditions contest as the Vicki Sollitt-ridden Hidor De Bersy set out to make all the running and it turned out to be a winning tactic as he romped home with 12-lengths to spare over Willewonga. Sollitt said of the 14-1 shot:"He jumped for fun out in front and settled nicely at the head of affairs. You always think that something is going to come and get you but I was really confident as he was travelling so well in the conditions."
The success provided Sollitt with the perfect comeback and she explained: "I only had three rides last season due to injury so it's good to ride my first winner for a while on my own horse."
Winning trainer Jo Priest doubled up later on the card after 10-1 chance Thatshalfthebattle proved the answer to the first division of the Maiden for 5-y-o and over with victory over Subtle Fortune.
Dale Peters is not a regular at the Worcestershire circuit but made his presence felt in the Restricted after Happy Victory, who he also trains, battled his way to victory over Learntalot. The six-year-old was having his first outing since joining Peters and the successful rider said: "He used to be with Gordon Elliott and I was a bit nervous as you are not really going to improve a horse coming from that yard.
"But I could not be more pleased with the way the horse has performed there as he jumped like a stag for me. We can go home now and think about all our options for the future."
The only favourite to do the business on the card was the Tom Ellis-trained debutante Just A Rose, who landed the 4-y-o Maiden under Jack Andrews after beating Country Mile by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
But successful connections had a worrying few minutes as the winner had to survive an objection by Zak Baker, rider of the runner-up, as the principals came close together approaching the second last fence.
However, the stewards allowed the result to stand and a relieved Ellis said: "We have always loved this filly from the day she came into the yard and she should make up into a nicer mare for the future. I imagine the plan will be to send her to the sales now that she has won in pleasing style."
The Novice Riders race went the way of the Alexandra Ingram-partnered Everything Now at odds of 9-1 and the second division of the 5-y-o and upwards Maiden went the way of Monty Searle and Ella Herbison.
Vicki Sollitt for a brave front running ride in the very testing conditions aboard Hidor De Bersy.