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ZETLAND
WITTON CASTLE
Sunday 1st May 2005
by Ian Marshall
photos by Arthur Thompson

Rain in the morning left the going near perfect and officially Good, Good to Soft in Places. The day was notable for two of the winners had come to grief in the Heart of England hunter chase at Hexham just the night before.

The Hunt Members was a match between An Cuaifeach and John Davies and Shining Light and Simon Robinson. It was not short of incident and will live long in the memory of all those present. Little had happened until An Cuaifeach fell at the 14th, leaving Shining Light solo. The sixteen-year-old’s jumping became ever slower out on his own before he refused at the final fence. Rather give his mount a breather, Simon Robinson tried twice more in quick succession with the same result. He then sensibly gave up, which alerted John Davies who was walking An Cuaifeach back the wrong way back to the course exit. He remounted and continued. Shining Light, meanwhile, was brought out again to a position with his back to the second last “to get a lead” when An Cuaifeach came through. And so the race in effect began once more. In the “sprint” to the last and on the run-in An Cuaifeach beat Shining Light by two and a half lengths. Neither party came out of the farce with particular credit as there has been much debate recently about the merits of remounting, especially in this instance when it wasn’t the softest of falls, while Simon Robinson’s actions left a fair bit to be desired. Quite what the members of the public who only visit a point-to-point once a year made of things is anyone’s guess.

A field of a dozen lined up for the Intermediate and Bobby Buttons, who had been an early casualty at Hexham, continued on the upgrade to claim the spoils. His improvement since Tina Jackson took over in the saddle has been marked and she was again on board when he delivered today. Their two previous acquaintances had been in winning a Charm Park maiden and runner-up in a hot restricted at Hornby Castle. Bobby Buttons showed a good turn of foot from the penultimate obstacle, having been perfectly placed throughout. Logic would suggest that the Hiscox Final at Huntingdon could be on the cards. The favourite Ellie Bee and Ben Woodhouse were in second. The pace setter Ellie Bee had been headed on the run to the last and a bad blunder at the final fence sealed her fate, although she was looking held at the time. This was another solid performance after some useful displays this year. Sweeping Storm (Chris Dawson) gave his all as usual for third and deserves reward for his consistency. He must surely pick up a race before long. Shirostran (Nigel Smith) in fourth again did well and won’t meet opposition of this calibre every week. Penny Peppermint finished best of all after being held up and would have been in with a shout in another quarter of a mile.


The winner, Bobby Buttons (Tina Jackson) takes them along


Penny Peppermint (Clive Mulhall)

A fine turnout of 18 faced the starter for the Restricted. Prioritisation got Ben Woodhouse his seemingly obligatory victory, being three lengths too clever for Search Party and Simon Walker. Prioritisation had poor form in the southwest and his Market Rasen maiden apparently took little winning. His trainer must have found improvement for somewhere though because he showed great resolution here. Search Party had generally not lived up to expectations this season, but back on decent surface, his true colours came to light. If in the same mood, he can land a restricted. There was a solid display from Queenies Girl (Paul Frank) in third and she remains in good heart. It must only be a matter of time before she finds a restricted. Fourth-placed Carew (Lee Bates) keeps heading in the right direction. The useful Whitwell-on-the-Hill maiden winner Bexley was a warm order, but came down at the 7th. He also lost his jockey at Hornby Castle in April when well supported. There was a fair effort from King’s Echo, who couldn’t get into the argument. Magic Route might have been feeling the effects of some tough races. The Murphy Meister made mistakes and was strangely always detached in last before pulling up at the 6th. He didn’t appear to be lame and further investigation by the stewards might have been warranted.


11 Nampara Cove (Trevor Glass) and 26 Supreme Vintage (Richard Wakeham)


The winner, Prioritisation (Ben Woodhouse) nearside, Bankersdraft (Michael Morley) far side


22 Queenies Girl (Paul Frank), 23 Sajomi Rona (Ian Smith) and 19 Nampara Cove (Trevor Glass)

The nine-runner Mens Open saw Royal Snoopy, successful in the same race twelve months earlier, triumph under Rupert Abrahams. He gradually crept into contention and readily strode clear. A date at the Doncaster Sales awaits Royal Snoopy, who had been out of luck, but running creditably, in hunter chases since last year. Arctic Challenge, on whom Tom Greenall was making a rare appearance in points this season, needed all of his rider’s strong handling to be second. Backsheesh (Grant Tuer), a disappointment in a hunter chase at Kelso on Wednesday, was made favourite in a bid to follow up his Hornby Castle victory in April, but could only manage third after leading for much of the journey. Astral Prince and Nigel Tutty in fourth again might have found three miles a bit beyond them, even on this flat track.


Journey (Nigel Smith and winner Royal Snoopy (Rupert Abrahams)


Busted Flat (David Thomas), Journey (Nigel Smith) and Backsheesh (Grant Tuer)


Mademist Sam (Guy Brewer) and Backsheesh (Grant Tuer)


Arctic Challenge (Tom Greenall)

Wilfie Wild has been an excellent performer in 2005 now that he is healthy and over last year’s problems and he collected the nine-runner Ladies Open. He’d got rid of today’s pilot Lynne Ward at Hexham when looking a danger yesterday evening, but there were no such worries this afternoon. Traveling supremely well and content to sit at the back of the field, Wilfie Wild was brought to challenge in the home straight and hacked up in impressive fashion. This was the nine-year-old’s fourth success of the campaign and the Gerrard Final at Hereford wouldn’t be aiming too high. Ledgendry Line and Serena Brotherton chased him home in second. Ledgendry Line has been a model of consistency this year, gaining two first and three runner-up positions from five races. Ledgendry Line had also been second to Wilfie Wild in the ladies confined at Whitwell-on-the-Hill last month and like on that occasion was made favourite. The Minister stayed on for third with Tina Jackson in the plate and the veteran didn’t fare too badly. Quango (Jo Foster) was a one-paced fourth. Londolozi Lad’s jumping continues to let him down. Supercharmer had just been headed having made every yard of the running, but hadn’t been shrugged off, when he ejected Jenny Riding at the third last.

Eight horses went to post in Division One of the Maiden and Just Jay and Clive Mulhall missed out on a winner in Roger Marley’s Just Jay, with Richard Wakeham taking over in the saddle. The youngster showed her rivals a clean pair of heels from four out, from which point there were no concerns. Just Jay had made a nice first entrance to the fray when fourth behind the impressive Mr Tee Pee at Whitwell-on-the-Hill in April, a race from which the second Clever Nora, well thought of by Maxine Stirk, has since taken a Corbridge maiden. Dracaena in second tried her best for Nigel Tutty, but had no answers to Just Jay’s turn of pace. She has now been placed in all four outings between the flags. The Beeker, assisted by Freya Hartley, doesn’t seem blessed with a lot of speed, but put in his best performance by far in Britain, dropped to the lowest level. Kappillan, after a good effort at Hornby Castle last time, was being scrubbed along about three quarters of a mile from home and was well held in fourth. Bally Leader looked nailed on for the first four and wasn’t done with when departing at the fourth fence from the finish.


Kappillan (Philip Kinsella)


Dracaena (Nigel Tutty)


L to R Spanish Brook (Chris Dawson), Bally Leader (Lee Bates) and Kappillan (Philip Kinsella)

Division Two of the Maiden attracted ten runners and Dannymolone fully deserved his victory, with Simon Walker coming in for the ride as Ben Woodhouse partnered the debutant he trains, Loch Oscaig, into a competent fourth. Dannymolone had started his opening year with good seconds at Charm Park and Brocklesby Park, but was pulled up on a return visit to Charm Park. That last run might have come too quickly following two hard races and this time he was given ample chance to recover. Runner-up Eisenhower (Chris Dawson) is slowly warming to life in Britain and, although no match for the winner, could possibly have a small maiden in him. Brown’s Beck (Michael Morley) in third has shown more than a glimpse of ability, but she does appear to have stamina limitations, even on easy tracks like here and last week at Easingwold. Eggshells, absent since hitting the deck at Market Rasen in January, was very easy to back and found the floor again, this time at the 6th. The Viking found the fences a real challenge once more.

Ballyowen won the closing Division Three of the Maiden with his head in his chest in a spare ride for Nigel Tutty, disposing of seven opponents to land a major gamble. He made smooth progress on the final circuit and did all that was asked of him to score by 25 lengths. Ballyowen had a valid excuse when pulled up at Mordon on his UK debut as he broke a blood vessel. Ballyowen had come under Roger Marley’s control since that day, when he was with Ben Woodhouse. Nigel was in fact the fourth choice jockey because Richard Tierney is out with a broken leg, while substitutes Clive Mulhall and Richard Wakeham were stood down after falls today. Nigel certainly wasn’t complaining, having spent around a month on the sidelines himself this campaign with broken ribs. Rare Presence went off quickly under Guy Brewer and was a spent force when tackled by Ballyowen. He did raise his game for the application of blinkers though and brushed up his jumping. John Wade’s Iron Trooper (Chris Dawson) was well back in third and these were the only three to complete. The Fear Of God was odds-on, but found very little under pressure.

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