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MIDDLETON
WHITWELL-ON-THE-HILL
3rd April 2005
by Ian Marshall

The crowds flocked to the meeting, which has the Grimthorpe Gold Cup as the feature. The course was in tremendous condition and the going was described as Good to Soft. A calm, sunny and mild day in early afternoon had declined to cool and cloudy with a brisk breeze by the time of the last race at 5.35pm.

The opening Hunt Members race was, following the abandonment of the Sinnington card in February, open to horses hunted with both the Middleton and Sinnington packs. There were six declarations and Mister Bromley and Serena Brotherton came out on top. It was the eight-year-old’s third victory of 2005 following wins in a Witton Castle intermediate and a Hutton Rudby confined. His sole reverse this year was a good second to the unbeaten Auntie Kathleen at Charm Park. There is every chance of further success in the future as there seemed a bit more in the locker at the climax. Kings Boy (Oliver Greenall) was second and is a capable performer that has not been easy to train. Third-placed Duchess Account (Emma Brader) made a mistake at the last, but for which she would have much closer than the eventual three lengths off the winner. Busted Flat and David Thomas were well behind in fourth.

The six-runner Ladies Confined was not subject to penalties so was in effect a ladies open for Yorkshire-based horses. Serena Brotherton was chasing a quickfire double on this season’s Dalton Park and Mordon open winner Ledgendry Line, who went off at around 1-2. However, it was not to be as the highly impressive Wilfie Wild was guided to victory by Lynne Ward to rattle up a hat-trick. He took the extra step up in grade in his stride and a ladies open is well within his sights on this evidence. If there was an award for the most improved horse of 2005, he would be a leading contender. The rate of progression is such that, should he manage one, there would be worse candidates for the Gerrard Ladies Final at Hereford. Ledgendry Line was two lengths back and is expected to return to winning ways soon. Over The Beck and Annabelle Armitage were a distant third of three finishers. Over The Beck did at least complete, which is more than he had done for a couple of years. Texas Ranger was very tired when pulled up before the second last. He was exhausted when being soundly beaten at Dalton Park last time and may have some sort of a problem. Wynyard Dancer unseated Tina Jackson at the 9th.

12 horses lined up for the Restricted and there was a ready winner in Ralph Brader’s Skew Whip, who was value for a good deal more than the official winning distance of four lengths. Skew Whip did well to stay on his feet after a blunder at the third last, but other than that jumped like an old hand. He’d landed his maiden at Charm Park on Easter Monday by a distance. This was only the winner’s fourth appearance and the first two were learning experiences, so who knows how good this fine stamp of a horse might be in time, especially as his dam Magic Whip won a total of eight point-to-points. There was relief for jockey Richard Wakeham, who was returning to the saddle having broken a wrist at Cottenham in January. Runner-up Oaklands Luis under Trevor Glass stayed on well and ran his best race yet in restricteds. He should pick one up in the near future. There was a sound effort from Magic Route (Tina Jackson) in third and the same can be said for Kiora Bay (David Thomas) in fourth. Kiora Bay’s Dalton Park maiden triumph has now produced another three maiden winners, one of whom, Skew Whip, has also taken a restricted. Both the favourite Dayenoo and Bankersdraft departed at the first. Hellodock was pulled up at the 12th with something amiss, but Ginger Biscuit had no apparent excuses.

It was a far from vintage 4m1f Grimthorpe Gold Cup that attracted just nine runners. A waiting ride from Oliver Greenall ensured that Shackleton had enough left at the business end to see him home. Shackleton is a major force between the flags, having previously won two confineds this season and been second in an open from three starts. It can’t be long before he turns his attention to hunter chasing as he has an event at that level at Clonmel to his name from his time in Ireland. Victoria’s Boy and David Coates didn’t go down without a fight though. Victoria’s Boy is exceptionally consistent and a decent prize should come his way. Wings Of Hope (Harry Fowler) made the long journey from Wales, but had to settle for third place after racing prominently throughout. Only three finished. Primitive Rites wouldn’t have been beaten too far in fourth if he hadn’t ejected Serena Brotherton at the final fence. The four of them were in line at the third last. Purple Jean seemed to fail to stay. Grant Tuer was aiming for his third consecutive Grimthorpe on his third different horse, however Trooper Collins was pulled up a long way out.

The 2½ mile Maiden Division One had a field of 14 and the five-year-old newcomer Mr Tee Pee created a good impression to open his account at the first time of asking under Ben Woodhouse. He’d certainly been well educated and is forward enough to have a chance in a restricted. Clever Nora was running on for Freya Hartley in the closing stages and a maiden should be just around the corner. Third went to Born Special and Nigel Smith. Born Special did settle a bit better with the blinkers left off and this trip looks his best hope as stamina is an issue for him over three miles. Just Jay (Mark Walford) in fourth was making her debut getting all the allowances and the experience won’t be lost on her. The shrewd Marley yard know the time of day with their young horses. Oaklands Ted might have preferred a bit more cut in the ground.

Division Two of the 2½ mile Maiden was turned into a procession by Bexley, who pulverised his seven rivals to saunter up the home straight. There was joy for the pilot Richard Tierney on his comeback from a broken collarbone. It was Bexley’s opening salvo in points, having formerly shown promise under Rules when owned by Trevor Hemmings and trained by Chris Grant. The manner of this display suggests that Bexley will be worth watching in a restricted. Runner-up Black Leopard had the assistance of Ben Woodhouse on top and, although beaten 20 lengths and readily left behind by the winner, ought to find a race. Alizarin (Rachel Clark) completed for the first time in a distant third. There were no other finishers. Most Willing, a full sister to dual winning pointer and decent hunter chaser Mighty Willing, suffered a slipping saddle after just one fence at Charm Park on Easter Monday and was today steadied in rear before pulling up after two miles. She’ll come on nicely for this. Mistermagicman came down at the 6th leaving rider Guy Brewer injured. The length of time it took for him to receive medical assistance was disappointing to say the least.

Ten turned out for Division One of the Maiden, which gave Oliver Greenall a double on another of his father Lord Daresbury’s horses Duggleby. The five-year-old wasn’t unduly extended to dispose of Ask Bobby and Ben Woodhouse. Duggleby had previously put an awful Charm Park run behind him by being a useful second to Kiora Bay at Dalton Park. Ask Bobby is improving steadily and only a mistake at the penultimate obstacle sealed his fate. He seemed to be much better going right-handed and Stainton or Witton Castle later in the year on the Yorkshire circuit might suit him similarly. Mighty Rising (Charlotte Cundall) was placed yet again in third, but has now gone 19 races between the flags without a victory. Noggler (Serena Brotherton) was one-paced in fourth. An Cuaifeach ran too badly to be true and this performance is best forgotten.

There were seven combatants in Division Two of the Maiden and Shirostran gained due reward for his consistency, but he needed all of Nigel Smith’s strength in the saddle to do so. He’s been a particularly hard puller in the past and noticeably does likewise in the paddock as well. However, he rarely puts in a poor display and has kept his form very well. A close second and gaining on the run-in was Polyarnoe Bay under Mark Walford. Representing trainer Gill Walford, Polyarnoe Bay gets a handy weight allowance and she can’t be far away from a maiden. Northern Rambler (David Stratton) in third is no star, but might manage a small race. Rare Presence (Freya Hartley) scooped fourth, but isn’t finding it easy in points. Market Poseur made much of the running prior to fading and pulling up. The Fear Of God, fourth in a Cheltenham back in 2001 on one of his two appearances under Rules, was going well enough when exiting six from home, bringing down Needs Diplomacy.

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