Penshurst welcomed owners, trainers and jockeys on Sunday for their first fixture of the season which proved to be a very successful day for Alan Hill and Izzie Marshall, picking up three victories and two seconds from their five runners.
The opening race of the meeting, a 2 mile 4 furlong restricted race provided Hill and Marshall with their first success as the odds on favourite Whatya On About comfortably won by five lengths from his only rival in the race Nigel Padfield’s Man of Means.
Izzie Marshall was quickly back in the winners enclose in the second race, although the victory was much tougher fought as Getting Closer the 2/5 favourite held on in the Fiona Coveney Memorial Conditions Race by a head to beat Sarah Ashby trained Monkey Puzzle ridden by Sarah’s daughter Mary. Monkey Puzzle took up the running from the early leader Oscar O’Scar at the fourteenth fence but Getting Closer then took up the running at the sixteenth fence and looked to be pulling clear of Monkey Puzzle at the penultimate fence. However Monkey Puzzle battled back to within a length of Getting Closer at the final fence and the pair were locked together heading to the winning post with Getting Closer taking the victory by a head. Elizabeth Feakes trained and ridden Oscar O’Scar completed in third, thirty lengths behind the leading duo.
The Ladies open race saw three runners who set a very steady pace until after the sixteenth fence where the Ed Turner trained No Hassle Hoff injected some speed. Izzie Marshall aboard the 1/4 favourite, Alan Hill trained Hawkhurst stalked the leader over the final two fences but on the run to the winning post was unable to match the speed that No Hassle Hoff found which afforded him the victory by two lengths whilst Jackfield trained by Maggie Howie and ridden by Beth Mellish completed in third three lengths behind Hawkhurst.
The four runner men’s open race provided a fifth point-to-point victory for Freddie Gordon, son of former area champion jockeys Chris & Jenny Gordon. Partnering Captain Bucks the pair made all throughout the race until being joined by Trappist Monk from Rob Varnham’s yard and Hannah Grissell trained Ballintara at the fourteenth fence following the departure of Who’s My Jockey at the thirteenth fence where he unseated Charlie Marshall. At the penultimate fence the race was between Captain Buck’s and Trappist Monk and the pair remained locked together over the last fence, before Captain Buck’s managed to gain half a length over Trappist Monk on the run to the winning post. Ballintara completed in third six lengths further back.
The Intermediate race was also a four runner affair which went to the 4/7 favourite Fiddler of Dooney trained by James Owen in Suffolk and ridden by Alex Chadwick. The four runners again were tightly bunched in the early stages of the race with Alan Hill’s Voie Dans Voie leading until the penultimate fence where Fiddler of Dooney moved through opening up a four length advantage by the final fence which Voie Dans Voie was unable to haul back. Hannah Clarke trained Shanoule Wood was also prominent until the third fence from home and eventually finished third twenty five lengths behind Voie Dans Voie. Broadwater made a mistake at the twelfth fence and was losing ground on his rivals soon after so was pulled up at the fourteenth fence.
Izzie Marshall and Alan Hill ended the day where they started when Calvic took the concluding open maiden race which saw the largest field of the day with eight runners. Calvic was a final fence faller at Barbury Racecourse in December and was sent off priced at a reasonable 7/2, but he put in an assured and safe round of jumping at Penshurst to secure the third trophy of the day for Alan and Izzie. Hannah Grissell trained Westtara was sent off the 6/4 favourite with Phil York in the saddle and he had every chance at the final fence but he blundered which handed Calvic the advantage and he ran on well to the winning post. Monmouth Hill under Alex Chadwick from Hannah Clarke’s team also benefitted from Westtara’s blunder to take second whilst Hannah Clarke’s other runner Right Hand of God completed in fourth. Hannah Grissell’s other runner Robin Is Ready pulled up at the last having struggled from the fourteenth fence where both Aimee Rowe’s Nicklass and Steve Spice’s Jasmin des Bordes also started to get detached with both runners pulling up before the penultimate fence. Tim Underwood’s only runner at the meeting Bolamore Bridge as an early casualty in the race unseating his jockey at the first fence.