Horse Racing with Jason Hall – A host of achievements at the Easter Festival

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THE Plumpton Easter Racing Festival gave racegoers two days of exciting racing over the holiday weekend, and included, amongst other things, the achievement of notable landmarks by Sussex trainer Gary Moore.

One was in reaching 100 winners at the course this century and the other was in his young conditional rider Lee Oswin riding his first ever winner on the second day, when Sircozy was successful.

Twenty-one-year-old Lee was having just his third ride and tactically he could not have judged his waiting ride on the quirky Sircozy any better.

Holding him up in rear, Lee moved up going well on the home bend before allowing his mount to stride on between the final two flights – and then riding him out strongly on the run in to record a decisive win on a day he will never forget.

From Hollingdean in Brighton, Lee joined Gary a few years ago and afterwards spoke of his elation at achieving a life time ambition.

“I tried to ride to the instructions the boss gave me and it couldn’t have gone better.

“I am a fit lad, I ran the Hastings marathon a few weeks ago, but I’ve always struggled with my weight but this is just the thing to drive me on to get lighter and be able to do a decent weight more regularly.”

Gary was obviously pleased for his young jockey and also at his personal achievement.

“You have to give these young lads a chance and Lee has done well to take it. He will have to work on his weight if he wants to ride more regularly but I’m delighted for him.”

Of the 100th winner, he said: “I remember my first winner as a jockey was Jamies Cottage but I couldn’t tell you who was my first winner here as a trainer.”

The first day of the two-day meeting saw a crowd edging up toward 4,000 enjoy a day when the weather improved steadily throughout and ended up with warm, sunny conditions by mid-afternoon in which to enjoy some good sport.

Probably the most dramatic race of the day came in the staying novice handicap chase where the Neil King-trained Ballyvoneen ultimately ran out a wide margin winner, but not before plenty of incident mid-race which changed the complexion of the contest.

Three horses departed as the race was developing and the winner was sent to the front at the top of the hill on the final circuit and gradually ground the spirit out of his pursuers.

He looked to have the race in safe keeping when his nearest pursuer came down at the second last, and his owners, the Across The Pond Partnership, were delighted their charge had finally got off the mark over fences as their representative Nolan Catterwell explained in the winners’ enclosure afterwards.

“We fancied him strongly at Warwick last time but he fell early on. We were equally hopeful today but obviously that fall made us a little more cautious. He really needs this good ground and I would think there’s a good chance he could come back tomorrow if the ground stays like this.”

Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case as the heavens opened from early morning on day two with steady rain throughout the day and a gusty wind having a significant effect on the anticipated holiday crowd.

However, for Lee Oswin, the wintry conditions were just the back drop to a dream day.

The Grand National takes place at Liverpool tomorrow afternoon and this wonderful race with its great tradition in the history of sport in the UK and place in the fabric of British culture is sure to provide another thrilling spectacle.

Let us hope uninformed cynics do not attempt to spoil a great occasion by chasing a cheap story.