On a cool day in East Yorkshire, rather mixed weather of some sunshine and a couple of heavy showers greeted racegoers. Good ground was on offer that had got a bit softer by the end of the card due to the rain. Tom Greenall continued his excellent run with a four timer from five rides, while Jo Mason’s exquisite handling secured her a double.
The Hunt Members saw seven horses go to post and despite some indifferent jumping, Boxbury claimed the spoils under Mark Walford to maintain his unbeaten record in points. Boxbury walked through the third last, but remained upright and dug deep to add to his success in a slow Witton Castle maiden in February. This would be a step up from that and it will be interesting to see how he gets on in a restricted. Runner-up Beauchamp Oracle tried hard for Charles Clark to hold off the third by a short head. He isn’t the force of old, but is still capable of a fair performance. With the blinkers back on, Snizort (Steve Charlton) ran his best race for some time in third. A long track is a requisite and is a threat to all if in the mood. The Real Tom Eoin in fourth was the first of the principals beaten, but was found to have finished lame.
There was a field of 11 for the Confined and a red hot favourite in Gunner Jack, who put in his most accomplished round of fencing between the flags to land the prize in the hands of Tom Greenall. Having picked off Cop Howe at Duncombe Park, he failed to complete at North Carlton. With a clear round, he’ll be a threat in opens. Runner-up One Five Eight did fine for Jacqueline Coward, but had no answer when Gunner Jack went past. One Five Eight isn’t the horse he once was, but can still give a good account. Dannymolone likes it round here and Simon Walker guided him into third. Dannymolone had won this race in 2009 and is a solid performer that puts it all in. Whinny Bank in fourth is a stout stayer who got tapped for toe when the pace was upped. Father Owen couldn’t stick with the principals on a course that should have suited. Gods Token was prominent throughout and did OK.
The Mens Open was the quickest race of the day and went to a class act in the shape of Laertes under Tom Greenall. Laertes was sent off at long odds-on and as usual, just needed a bit of gentle persuasion from his rider to fend off his pursuers. It will be a very good one that lowers his colours in points and the Grimthorpe Gold Cup would seem to be made for him. Ask Bobby, with Guy Brewer in the plate, has had a few knockers, but he stuck to his guns to chase home the winner. He ran really well and certainly didn’t lack for effort. Smart Thinker (Chris Cundall) was likely to struggle against the front two, but she kept on for third when she could have thrown in the towel. After her sound showing at Duncombe Park last month, there might be a race in her. Only three of the five starters got round.
There were eight runners for the Ladies Open and the useful mare Poppy Day, with Jo Mason in the saddle, completed a hat-trick. Having taken time to impose herself here, she came away on the run-in. She had scored twice at North Carlton in 2010, the second of which was a particularly impressive effort in a hot ladies open. Poppy Day is now amongst the top echelon at this level and more success is expected to be forthcoming. Her gameness is a real crowd pleaser. Wilfie Wild excelled himself in second as he normally needs his reappearance. Lynne Ward’s mount made a bold bid for glory and Poppy Day had to pull out all the stops to get the better of him. Wilfie Wild is no back number at 14. In third, Narciso might prefer a bit more cut in the ground. Jacqueline Coward couldn’t quite get him to the lead as the pace quickened and he never got on terms. Optimistic Harry stayed on up the home straight for fourth. He has the ability to take a little race in a slightly lower grade. Scott’s Mill wasn’t disgraced. Encore Cadoudal faded, but put up a much bolder show than a week ago at Charm Park.
Eight horses came under orders for the Restricted and Piece Of Magic dotted up under Tom Greenall to keep her 100% record. Given a typically patient ride, she eased her way into contention and joined issue at the final fence where a less than fluent leap was insufficient to prevent her gaining the day. She gets a stone from the older geldings this season and can use it to good effect in the coming weeks. There will still be bags of improvement to come. There was a personal best from Forge Valley in second, on whom Guy Brewer nearly poached a decisive advantage on the last lap. Forge Valley picked up his maiden at Mordon last term over two and a half miles and has generally been campaigned on less than demanding courses. However, he seemed to have no problems with the extended trip at Dalton Park and has every chance of a victory in a restricted as Piece Of Magic and Forge Valley were 20 lengths clear of the remainder. The Tinkerater (Steve Charlton) was bang there leaving the back straight, but gradually weakened into third. Wherethat kept on behind from a mile back for fourth. Principal Lad was disputing third when he gave Harriet Bethell no chance of staying on board three from home, while Hailes Hill Lad also crashed out. Nomadic Ice ran well for two and a half miles on his return before dropping away.
Division One of the Maiden brought together a dozen hopefuls and was the faster of the two maidens. Liverpool thoroughly deserved to get his head in front to give jockey Jo Mason a double on the card. This fellow has several creditable placed efforts to his name so certainly wasn’t winning out of turn. He battled on tenaciously when pressed in the closing stages and wasn’t for passing. Spirit Of Man went down by a neck as his finishing spurt wasn’t quite enough. It was Tom Greenall’s only reverse on the afternoon and it may have been crucial that he dropped his whip on the run-in. It might not be coincidental that Spirit Of Man only lost out by a head on his previous outing at North Carlton. O’Gara in third got more competitive for Harriet Bethell than has often been the case. He wasn’t able to quicken when it mattered, but did all right nonetheless. Fourth-placed Willybegood is taking a while to get into the groove, but at least is displaying a little ability. Seraphim Knight can come on for the run, while Monty’s Fortune had a gentle introduction and should improve for time and experience.
Nine horses were present at flagfall for Division Two of the Maiden and Tom Greenall completed his four timer aboard a facile winner in Mr Gossip. Mr Gossip had caught the eye when second under tender handling at Brocklesby Park in February. He barely got out of second gear here and fairly hacked up at prohibitive odds. In second, Bring It On made a bold bid from the front for Liam Bailey. Given that in Ireland his fencing appeared to be his achilles heel, Bring It On jumped pretty slickly on this occasion. Whilst he was readily swept aside by Mr Gossip, Bring It On was a mile clear of everything else and has a maiden well within his sights. Max Johnson guided Lady Hills into third without being hard on her on just the mare’s second visit to a racecourse. Lady Hills mugged Cedar Point on the line and the latter had to settle for fourth. Cedar Point was to the fore throughout. It wouldn’t be surprising if the run would do him good after a couple of years off. Cricket Bat had a quiet debut and will know more in the future, as will former bumper participant The Mingler.