A lot of hard work had gone into the course since the April meeting and the going was again Good. Just as three weeks ago, it rode extremely well.
With only three entries, the Hunt Members was a rather inauspicious start to proceedings, but thankfully two horses were declared. Lucinda Sutcliffe gained her first success when she booted home Rushing Again to beat Gaultier Gale and Ben Hamilton. Rushing Again hadn’t won since 2004, but he equally hadn’t been getting on too badly this year. His second at Hutton Rudby reads well and this was a less arduous task for him. Gaultier Gale couldn’t get past Rushing Again once the pace quickened despite his rider’s urgings and he had to settle for second.
The Younger Horse Maiden drew in nine competitors and Dejeeje came home in front in the hands of Richard Clark. Dejeeje had hinted that he might be finding his feet on his previous visit here and he took advantage of the favourite Dr Hellier running wide at the last bend to build an unassailable lead. Initially in his short career, Dejeeje’s jumping left a lot to be desired, but now, whilst his method wouldn’t be one for the purist, he is getting safely to the other side. He is the third winner to come out of Eliza Doalott’s Whitwell maiden. In second, Dr Hellier was closing on the run-in for Richard Wakeham, which left the feeling that he would have collected the prize if he had cornered better. He should find a maiden. Third went to Southside Sid (Chris Dawson), who had headgear applied, but had no answers to the first and second from three out. Octavio was back in fourth, but was running on empty late on. Saddlers’ Harmony was going great guns at the head of affairs when he dived at the 11th and gave his rider no chance of staying in the plate.
Eight horses took part in a quality Confined and the honours went to Just A Man. Charting a wide path, which is not usually a prudent move on this tight circuit, Lucy Carr chalked up her first victory in the plate by guiding this quirky character home in impeccable fashion. Always in the van, as opposed to being waited with in the rear as he often has been, Just A Man kept smoothly in touch and asserted between the two fences in the home straight, after which he never looked like being caught. Just A Man had been placed several times this year without really threatening to win. Runner-up Monte Cristo, partnered by Richard Tate, chased Just A Man all the way to the judge, but couldn’t reel him in. On a sharp track, he should find a contest of such a similar good standard. Charlies Memory kept on for Jacqueline Coward to be third and was giving weight away all round. He didn’t appear to have any excuses, although he again acquitted himself with aplomb. The grand old campaigner Buddy Girie was fourth and tried his hardest as normal, ahead of Banchory Two, whose upward curve seems to have reached its peak for now.
The Mens Open had a select trio, any one of which had strong claims. At the climax, Queenies Girl finished alone under Paul Frank. Queenies Girl seems to like little better than galloping up the incline that is the finishing chute at this venue. She remains in good heart and has kept her form remarkably well. She appears to thrive on racing. Sikander A Azam had run his usual fair race, but was two lengths down and seemingly held, when he fell at the last. Lanaken, so impressive at Witton Castle last Monday, dropped out rapidly once headed and this may have come too quickly.
There were seven runners for the Ladies Open that had a terrific finish, which was nip and tuck all the way to the line. Jacqueline Coward showed why she is the current Yorkshire Lady Champion and already has the 2007 title won with a week still to go as she booted home One Five Eight after it looked as though the gelding would lose his unbeaten record between the flags. Instead, under maximum assistance, One Five Eight dug deep into his reserves and got up in the shadow of the post to make it six out of six. A gallant second were Wilfie Wild and Lynne Ward. A short break in mid season has freshened the horse up as he hadn’t previously quite reached the same heights as the last couple of years. Wilfie Wild hadn’t been beaten far behind Plutocrat and Imps Way in a hunter chase at Wetherby on Thursday night. His swift reappearance so nearly bore fruits. One Five Eight and Wilfie Wild had pulled clear. In third, Del Trotter has given his all for Laura Eddery the last twice and certainly wasn’t disgraced. Fourth-placed Claire’s Nomad was wearing first-time blinkers and didn’t do too badly.
A class ride from Guy Brewer secured the seven-runner Restricted for Toms Party. The jockey bounced back from a fall earlier in the afternoon, where he received a kick as the field came through behind, by guiding the tricky Toms Party to a cosy success. Toms Party had gone agonisingly close to getting the better of Luke Lively at the previous fixture here. On this occasion, he was held onto until the last possible moment, in similar fashion to when he took his maiden at Garthorpe, before coasting ahead. Toms Party does have his own idea on matters, but when he clicks, doesn’t lack talent. Runner-up Oaklands Ted attempted to make all under Tina Jackson and on another day might just have held on. At his favourite course and on his initial foray in a restricted, Iron Trooper was putting in his best work at the business end to be third. Paul Collins’ mount should be back next year. Caribbean Lad did all right in fourth, but Hardy Oliver didn’t find much off the bridle at the track where he picked up his maiden.
The Open Maiden generated a turnout of ten horses. Zaffiera went to the front at the top of the rise for Ben Hamilton and stayed on strongly from the final fence. Like Dejeeje before him, Zaffiera had been behind Killnascully King three weeks ago on this sharp course and went one better today. Trainer Paul Williamson has now picked up maidens with three of his charges in 2007 and this one would probably be the most able of them. The newcomer Oriental Gentleman, representing the Sowersby team and with Guy Brewer in the saddle, was second. The stable aren’t renowned for having debut winners and this fellow looks a promising long term prospect. Oriental Gentleman was still tanking along three out having been held up early, lost ground descending the hill and then kept on again stoutly from the last without being given a hard race. With possible stamina concerns, Banners Flying (Rachel Clark) has run his best races here and he came third. Working Class Hero in fourth doesn’t really have a change of gear and was outpaced in the closing stages. The long-distance traveller Springwood Lady had the services of Chris Dawson, but was held when departing. Follow Up and Royal Friend faded after disputing the running. Lewesdon Son ran out on this racecourse debut and will do better in time if he can channel his energies in the right direction.