6th March 2005
by Ian Marshall
Due to the postponement of the Sinnington (twice) and West of Yore meetings, it had been exactly a month since the only Yorkshire area event of the year so far at Witton Castle. A sunny afternoon greeted visitors to Charm Park and plenty of runners made for compelling viewing on ground that was on the soft side of good. The remarkable Ben Woodhouse moved his tally on to seven winners for the season, while the mother and son Walford team of trainer Gill and jockey Mark notched a double.
There were four runners for the Hunt Members, which saw Hill Charm and Lord Scroop vying for favouritism. However, Lord Scroop had at least won a race previously and came home in front under Michael Morley in a reasonable time. Lord Scroop has a poor record of completions and his jumping has left something to be desired in the past, but he got his act together on this occasion. It followed on from a fair third to Sevensider in a restricted at Brocklesby Park the week before. Mighty Rising was three lengths down at the line and has now been runner-up on the course three times. The ten-year-old was being pushed along at halfway, but should continue to give Charlotte Cundall valuable experience and might even sneak a maiden before the season is out, perhaps here on Easter Monday. Hill Charm (Clive Mulhall) was a distant third and Mighty Man (Richard Tierney) even further back in fourth. Mighty Man is a good looker and might come on for the run.
A field of 16 went to post for the Confined and the lovely grey Auntie Kathleen made it three wins from as many starts for Ben Woodhouse. She oozes class, but also showed fine battling qualities to hold off Mister Bromley and Serena Brotherton by a neck. Hunter chasing is on the agenda for the mare and who knows when she will eventually meet her match. The victory meant it was an amazing seven wins from seven rides for Ben Woodhouse between the flags in 2005. Mister Bromley was kicked on a long way out by his pilot and soon had many of his rivals in trouble. He is highly progressive and very consistent, scoring in an intermediate at Witton Castle in February. Glendamah and Michael Morley stayed on for third. His time will come. Step Lively and Wayne Burnell were a good fourth. The mare missed all of last season and put in none of the jumping lapses that characterized her time with Mary Sowersby. Emma Brader took over from Nicky Tinkler on Duchess Account, but the outcome was still the same: slow jumping to begin with, but finishing like a train. The mare will get her head in front again one day. Kuwait Millennium flattered to deceive, while Maxine Stirk’s The Big Breakfast was pitched in at the deep end on his racecourse debut. The latter ran quite green as expected, but will no doubt benefit for the experience.
14 turned out for the Restricted, which went to Vics Fane and Richard Tierney by a length. It was fast and furious and Vics Fane was up with the pace throughout. It was a notable performance and he only took his maiden at Market Rasen in January (a race where the “Jumpingforfun” horse Crake Way was third). Wilfie Wild claimed second with Lynne Ward aboard. Wilfie Wild has been knocking on the door several times and ought to get his head in front again before too long. Ellie Bee was two lengths behind in third, as Ben Woodhouse tasted defeat for the first time in points this year. Carew and Lee Bates got into their stride a bit too late and were fourth and the only other partnership to complete. Henry Murphy disputed the running, but dropped out very quickly midway down the back straight on the final circuit. He is far from easy for Laura Eddery to keep hold of.
A competitive Mixed Open was contested by 11 horses and Mister Friday was given a superb ride by Clive Mulhall to prevail. The duo came from a long way back as the field went a good clip. The winner hadn’t been disgraced in a hot hunter chase at Wetherby at the beginning of February, although the race had obviously blown a few cobwebs away. Those wily campaigners Mr Mahdlo (Ben Woodhouse) and Mr Pendleberry (Nicky Tinkler) turned in their usual sound displays and filled the minor honours. Although Mr Mahdlo had triumphed at Witton Castle in February, it is unlikely that they won’t both pick up an open before the end of May. Sevensider (Tom Greenall) faced a big step up in class having had a hard slog round Brocklesby Park to land his restricted the previous week. Although fourth wasn’t a bad effort by any means, it was a tough task. Ikdam Melody in fifth will find easier opportunities. Hadeqa and Civil Gent were both in need of the outing, with Civil Gent finishing out of the first three for the first time in point to points.
Division One of the Maiden attracted 14 runners and Paul Frank steered Ginger Biscuit to success. The chestnut had been given time to recover after being brought down on his sole racecourse appearance at Alnwick in 2004. Horses from the stable are underrated, particularly in maidens. Knight Crossing and Wayne Burnell were a promising second and Malton, who wasn’t fully wound up, third with Tom Greenall in the saddle. There should be more to come from both of them as the time was eight seconds quicker than the other two divisions. Only three finished. Born Special jumped much better for the application of blinkers, but unfortunately they caused him to go off like a hare and he was a spent force with over a half a mile still to race. Lilly Beach was tired in a weary fourth when unseating Nigel Tutty at the last. However, Incisive was in the front rank and going well when he took a crashing fall at the final ditch.
Just three of the 11 horses in the Second Division of the Maiden got round and it went the way of Wee William and Mark Walford. They made every yard, but looked like being collared by Forty Shakes and Chris Dawson at the penultimate obstacle. However, Forty Shakes seemed to jump the fence all right, but knuckled on landing and deposited his jockey. Wee William is still learning and has bags of improvement in him, while Forty Shakes should take a maiden. He came from way off the pace to deliver a late challenge and can be considered unlucky. The eventual second-placed Zesta Fiesta (Tom Greenall) pulls hard and is his own worst enemy. Been Here Before was third for Tina Jackson. The winning distances were a distance and a distance. Mistermagicman gave a good deal of hope for the future on his first visit to the racecourse. The Viking absolutely buried Nigel Tutty when coming down early on the last lap. Thankfully, both horse and rider appeared relatively unscathed, the horse taking a hefty whack as the field came through behind.
There were 14 in Division Three of the Maiden as well, while the fence in the home straight that is jumped on three occasions was missed out due to the angle of the sun, leaving 16 fences. A battle royal on the exceptionally long run-in between Honor and Glory (Mark Walford) and Dannymolone (Ben Woodhouse) went the way of the former by half a length. Honor & Glory showed great resolution and built on his debut third behind the useful pairing of West Coaster and Farington Lodge at Market Rasen in January. The debutant Dannymolone had obviously shown something at home as he was far better backed in the ring than his stablemate (also a debutant) in the previous race. He’ll be winning soon on this evidence. Bobby Buttons (Nicky Tinkler) was third and placed yet again, staying on strongly in the closing stages. Mary Reveley’s Northern Rambler is one to keep an eye out for in fourth. Landford Lad faded after enjoying a long early lead. Welham for the David Easterby/Tom Greenall combination was never sighted on his debut.