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Race Meeting Report - 19 April 2016

Tue, Apr 19, 2016

The first meeting of the 2016 season took place on a sunny late afternoon and evening on going that was good to soft, soft in places.

Despite being last for four of the five furlongs in the two-year-old maiden Visionary (3/1) came through strongly on the outside to score with ease, with no need for Jamie Spencer to resort to the whip. Robert Cowell's colt was good value for more than the half length he finished in front of Sheila's Lad.

An open-looking 7f handicap produced a runaway victory. Black Caesar (6/1 fav) ran just behind the leading group until taking over two furlongs out and quickly bounding clear. Passing the post he was three and a half lengths up on Wild Flower, with a similar gap back to the rest. Willie Twiston-Davies rode the winner for Findon trainer Philip Hide.

The next was another 7f handicap. In the rear for most of the race, Fingal's Cave (5/1) responded gamely to Charles Bishop's urgings, making steady progress through the field in the last quarter mile to hit the front in the last hundred yards. Mick Channon's gelding beat Outback Ruler by a length and a quarter. A few of their opponents near the far rail suffered traffic problems.

The come-from-behind theme was emphasised with the James Eustace-trained Ice Slice (9/2 fav) in the mile handicap. Virtually last with two furlongs left, when Ryan Tate pulled him out wide to get some daylight he flew up the hill to collar Eastern Dragon in the last couple of strides. The runner-up, who looked likely to win from over a furlong out, was defeated by a head.

The course specialist Megalala, now fifteen years old, assumed his customary front-running role in the 1m2f handicap, but he had to give way over a furlong out. A much younger course and distance winner, Tommys Geal (17/2), came out of the pack to take over. Though she started running out of steam in the closing stages, Daniel Muscutt kept the Michael Madgwick filly going well enough to withstand the late charge of Innoko by a head.

The penultimate race was over a mile. Free To Roam (7/4 fav) ran freely in the early stages and soon led, but was never headed. The promise of her recent Wolverhampton victory for trainer Philip McBride and jockey David Probert was confirmed, and the filly may have more still to come. Fitzwilliam, beaten a length into second, was the only one to mount a challenge in the last two furlongs.

One of the jockey finds of last season, Tom Marquand, partnered Secret Millionaire (4/1) to success in the 6f handicap that concluded the meeting. All of the horse's nine career wins had been over shorter, but he stayed on well enough to hold off Perfect Pastime's late run by three quarters of a length and give Nottinghamshire trainer Shaun Harris a rare Brighton winner.

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Jim Beavis