Saturday 15th April 2006
by Ian Marshall
photos by Arthur Thompson
With admission set at £5 a head, there was excellent value for money for racegoers as the Easter weekend got underway. After last year’s monsoon conditions, the going was probably good overall, although it was quite patchy, whilst the superbly built fences received extensive praise.
The open ditch
The Hunt race was no longer just for maidens and attracted six runners. Londolozi Lad hadn’t performed too badly this year and the ex-hurdler kept on best to win his first point-to-point. He isn’t the most fluent jumper, but seems to get on well with Rachel Clark. Runner-up Oaklands Ted (Tina Jackson) rallied to the cause in the closing stages having looked beaten. The Viking in third has shown enough to have a decent chance of landing a maiden. He was only beaten a total of eight lengths after clouting the fourth last and Nigel Tutty did wonders to survive another bad mistake at the penultimate obstacle. Red Rose Dixie completed for fourth. Stepastray led until the turn for home, before stopping as if shot, and could have blown up on his seasonal reappearance.
Stepastray (Clive Mulhall)
The Younger Horse Maiden had 11 participants, five of whom were visiting a racecourse for the first time, and only three finished. John Wade’s Victor One came out on top under Chris Dawson, wearing down Broctune Melody and Mark Walford in the shadow of the post. Victor One was a bit backward in two outings under Rules, but learnt from the experience then, and on two quiet displays in points, to take the honours. Broctune Melody showed the most he has to date, giving the impression that there could be a little more to come. He is a half brother to Serena Brotherton’s decent ladies pointer Ledgendry Line. Banners Flying was third for Richard Clark, completing the course initially at the fifth attempt, whilst indicating that the better ground is more up his street. Silver State will benefit for the education. Another interesting newcomer, Brightwell, was traveling smoothly, although the race hadn’t begun in earnest, when he crashed out, leaving jockey Ben Woodhouse with a suspected broken collarbone.
Seven horses turned out for the Restricted and there was a short price favourite in Polar Gale. Backers of the jolly were duly rewarded, but not without a few worries. Philip Cornforth kicked Karinga Leap clear in the back straight on the final lap, but Polar Gale caught him and got his head in front at the final fence, however the runner-up rallied on the flat and it was only Chris Dawson’s strength in the saddle that meant Polar Gale got back up on the line. Karinga Leap missed 2005 and it has taken three runs for him to regain a semblance of his form from 2004. Supreme Vintage (Simon Walker), fair when on song, was third. Kappillan, who needs a lot of stoking along by Mark Walford, was fourth. He had been runner-up to Polar Gale at Witton Castle in February, when today’s winner clinched his maiden on his sole other start this year.
Polar Gale (Chris Dawson)
There was a field of nine for the Confined and it deservedly went the way of April Spirit, with Steve Magee in the saddle. She has been a model of consistency in this her initial point-to-pointing campaign, having been placed on all three occasions, gaining much credit in defeat. April Spirit won by a distance from Emperor’s Son and Serena Brotherton. Emperor’s Son was always struggling to go the pace, prior to staying on past beaten horse. Third-placed On The Mend, with Jack Newitt doing the steering, finds it difficult on a course such as this that is more than three miles and he will prefer the two meetings at Easingwold. Queenies Girl (Paul Frank), having chased hard in second from halfway, was legless in fourth and really ought to have been pulled up before she clambered over the last. Gabla was never sighted on his pointing debut.
Six horses took part in the Mens Open and Mark Walford made full use of a spare ride on Bob Woodhouse’s Donnybrook. Donnybrook is no superstar, but simply takes any sort of surface in his stride, as he exhibited in carrying off a Mordon confined in a mudbath last month. The rider’s smart handling out in front was enough to take home the prize. Runner-up Sir Alf was brought through from well off the pace by Chris Dawson, however he never quite reached the leader. This delayed return for a horse that collected a Catterick hunter chase a year ago was pleasing. Some rattle underfoot is a necessity for third-placed Jupiter’s Fancy (Simon Walker) and she will come into her own during the remainder of the season. The mare did particularly well this afternoon in the circumstances. Was A Drive (Paul Hodgson) was fourth for the fourth occasion in 2006. Chaos Theory was well below par and something may have been amiss.
Donnybrook (Mark Walford - change of colours)
The Ladies Open was the strongest contest on the card and eight horses faced the starter. Wilfie Wild is a formidable opponent in these races and, accompanied by Lynne Ward, he was five lengths too good for San Francisco and Freya Hartley. Wilfie Wild goes from strength to strength and, after making rapid headway in the final mile, once he got to the head of affairs the result was quickly put beyond doubt. San Francisco is keeping his form admirably, even though he isn’t the simplest to win with, and still has much to offer. In third, Irish import Wrapitup was allowed to scoot well clear in the hands of Joanne Brown, building up a 30 length lead and didn’t yield until between the last two fences. At one stage, it looked as if he wouldn’t be headed and he might not be so easy to catch at somewhere like Easingwold. Aunt Gladys (Sally Ireland) was fourth. An uncharacteristic blunder at the second fence from Duchess Account gave Emma Brader no chance of remaining on board.
The day ended with six horses in the Older Horse Maiden. Of those, Kippour failed to even attempt to negotiate the first fence. By their nature, these events are usually dogged by moderate performers, but there were two geldings with reasonable credentials. The easy winners were Shannahyde and Jacqueline Coward. His appearances in Ireland weren’t the worst by any means and he had done nicely in second at Brocklesby Park in February, before exiting early on subsequently at Market Rasen. In just his second race, Croghan Lord was second under Chris Dawson and can improve. Lilly Beach (Nigel Tutty) got round for the first time in third. Bracken Run was guided into fourth by Rachel Clark, but doesn’t have a great deal to recommend him.
Left to Right - Lilly Beach (Nigel Tutty), Crogham Lord (Chris Dawson) & Iron Trooper (P Collins)