An unseasonably warm day at Charing encouraged a real feel-good factor to proceedings on Sunday, as the South East season kicked off in fine style. The dramatic opening 2m4f Maiden race went out of the area after Petra New’s Fizzlestix fell two out and brought Nick Pearce’s Roll The Dice, the 9/4 favourite, to a standstill. The race was then won by debutant Captain Simon, who was chased home by Pete Bull’s debutant The Real Scorpion.
The Restricted finally saw Letskeepit Simple score his second career win, twelve months on from scoring his first. The Ian Cobb trained seven-year-old placed consistently last season but kept finding one too good at Restricted level. The win also gave Charlie Marshall his first for the season.
Charlie came within inches of making it a quick-fire double in the following Mens Open, but Conkies Lad wilted late on and was bared down upon by Nick Pearce’s Murryana and Rose Grissell’s Crack Of Thunder. It was Murryana who got up to win, giving Nick some consolation after Roll The Dice’s luckless run.
The Ladies Open saw Vedettariat go off as the odds-on favourite and he had no trouble justifying those odds, as Gina Andrews guided him to beat Hannah Jones’s Probably George into second place.
The 2m4f Club Members Conditions provided possibly the finish of the afternoon, as Never Complain and Horizontal Speed went head-to-head. Never Complain looked to hold the upper-hand, but a stylish Gareth Henderson willed Horizontal Speed to join his rival on the line. After a short delay the result was called as a dead-heat, which produced heart-warming seasons as each set of connections celebrated together.
The concluding Open Maiden was possibly even more dramatic than the first race, as Stars Royale suffered a crashing fall at the third last when leading by five lengths. This left Nick Pearce’s Florabell in the lead, but she was mown down by Phil Hall on Surging Seas. After the race Phil announced it was to be his final winner and his final ride, hanging up his boots after twenty-six seasons in the saddle.