I posed the question would the 22nd be a race night to be remembered some of the comments from hardened race goers were “Magical” “Fantastic” “The best night ever” “Better than last years Crock of Gold finals night”. If you were there you would have your own comments but what was indesputable that the 22nd was a nights racing that could be compared with any around the world. The prize money might be higher and the attendances bigger but the best of British Harness racing can indeed be World Class and when we prepare the half mile track at Tir Prince as well as we did last night and combine it with excellent weather, stewarding, driving and a knowledgeable crowd it takes some beating!
Once again we were blessed with Mediterranean style weather, at 4pm the clouds cleared and we were left with clear blue skies and warm sunshine with hardly any breeze, no amount of praying could have delivered us any better weather.
We started the seven race meting with a 10 horse maiden race with six spread out on the gate to minimise the chances of a poor start, it was a super race with Alan Haythornthwaite on White Star Hanover just holding off Mark Jones on Wexford Beach. You would have to pinch yourself to believe that it was both horses first ever race! When the time was confirmed at 2.025 we all knew we were in for a very special nights racing.
We then had a two year old race with six horses and only one had raced a single time before but once again we had a perfect start and the drivers were to be commended for their skill levels. Jason Podmore on Rudd Hanover tried everything he knew to keep off the two favorites but in the end Vicky Gill on Rhyds Ponder gave local owner Mark Elvin another win with Mick Lord on Rhyds Five Star in second and Jason in third, the winning time was 2.04.
Our third race was a 12 horse race for grade one and twos this was a superb race with a cracking pace being set by Jim McInally on Catscam but Joseph Caffery on the Irish trained Tailgate Princess showed a tremendous turn of speed in the home straight to be beat Catscam into second, the time was an incredible 1.599 an unheard of time at Tir Prince for a grade 1 horse. Vicky Gill drove a great race to come third on Sur I Am Shady just holding off Rocker Laidlaw on JR Hall both horses giving 1st and 2nd a 10 yard start. Tailgat Princess was the first of four horses to receive a winner in under 2 minutes rug.
We all now knew that barring an accident the track record would be broken tonight.
Race 4 was an 11 horse handicap with the largest trail being 40 yards, a type of race we would prefer not to have to put on but when the horses race with the right handicap in good form (six horses had multiple wins in their last few races)it can produce a a magical race and this was what we got . The four horses on the gate led out strongly with the trailing horses trying to move steadily through the field but with 28.8 for the 1/4 mile and 59.5 for the half it was very difficult to make up ground. The lead chopped and changed but with a quarter to go Mick Lord on Howards Contender made a move and made about 5 lengths on the field but around the top bend Rocker Laidlaw on Laneside Lexus who had given a 40 yard start showed what a class horse it was by breaking away from the chasing pack but although it closed slightly on the leader with the crowd making a huge noise for their horse and Mick Lord won by 3 1/2 lenghts in a fabulous time of 1.592 with Laneside Lexus in second (hand time in 1.57 something..) holding off a brace race from William Greenthorn on Rhyds Pearl with Artis Control back in 4th.
The preferred free for all once again brought a number of horses in top form against each other but Windsong Dynamite was drawn one, For a Few Dollars More in two but Matador Hall on the outside. This was a cracking race the quarter was reached in 28.8 and the half in a realy fast time of 58.7 could the track record of 1.575 be broke in this race. The fast time put some distance between the leaders and the pack but the crowd were chearing Alam Haythorthwaite on Matador Hall and John Richardson on For a few Dollars More down the home straight. Nobody knew the winner until the line was crossed when John held off Alan by half a length. We had to wait tantalisingly for the time, was the record broken?… NO 1.578 but the second fastest time ever at Tir Prince. Both horses seem destined for a great future, both are only 4 years old. Hugh Menzies drove a great race on Wind Song Dynamite in 3rd with Mick Lord on Oakview Jack in 4th.
The first heat of the Welsh Cup was next with the 10 horses from grades 2 to 5. Megan Taff on Lifes a Beach was expected to go well and was receiving a start from the rest of the field and won comfortably in 2.017 but Huw Evans gave a great drive on Whizzaround to claim 2nd and 125 points with Rhys Evans on the Real Deal in third (75 points) amd Roy Wilson on Point West in 4th (50 points). Lifes a Beach qualifies for the final on 7th September, the four non winners with the highest points will also qulify for the final.
The lights were now on the breeze had got up and it was cooling considerably as the time reached 10.20pm and the starter called 9 of the best horses in Britain to the start line. The draw was kind to the favourite Crown Manhattan, drawn 2, not so good for the other form horse Dream Fair Samurai, drawn 5 and the two non fancied ten year olds who love Tir Prince Scoot Around and The Big Guy drawn 3 and 4 with Pan Lubber drawing 9.
Artisan was drawn one and William Greenhorn on Artisan led them out really strongly the quarter was reached in 27.9 and the half in 57.6 ( equivalent to 1.552 for the mile) this pace proved too quick and Artisan dropped back with a quarter to go and John Richardson on Crown Manhattan destroyed the field with a blistering turn of speed. It was cheered to the line with everone willing it to break the track record the hand timed clock stopped at 1.575 we would have to wait for the official time. Meanwhile behind there was a cracking race for second third and fourth. Pam Haythornthwaite gave old favorite Scoot Around a wonderful run to come second with Gareth Price finishing a creditable 3rd on Pan Lubber and Brian Gilvear earing valuable points for Dreamfair Samurai in 4th. We waited for our excellent commentator Darrenn Owen to announce the all clear and the official time, 1.574 a new track record!
A perfect end to a perfect nights racing!
Our thanks goes to everyone who took part the only problem is how do we top it.
Our next meeting will be Tuesday 21st July we hope to have heats for the three year old Derby and at least one trot.