YORK & AINSTY
Sunday 23rd April 2006
by Ian Marshall
photos by Arthur Thompson
Brilliant sunshine drew the crowds to Easingwold and signaled the first “real” day of spring. Ground that was officially Good, Good to Firm in places rode very fast indeed and it will take a large amount of rain, or extensive watering, if field sizes are to hold up as well at the May fixture as they did today. The camber of the final bend, which many observers had considered to be dangerous in the past, had been altered since a year ago. All the hard work paid off as the new turn rode extremely well and constitutes a much safer and fairer test.
The Hunt race featured just four hopefuls and there were joint favourites in Hattie and Noggler. Hattie made virtually all the running under Philip Cornforth and it looked as though she would follow up her win in a restricted at Charm Park on Easter Monday, however Charlotte Brown swooped late on Noggler and he passed the long-time leader in the dying strides to take the honours. He’d collected his maiden here in 2005 and is totally versatile as regards to ground, judged on his triumph in bottomless conditions in a Mordon intermediate last month. Noggler would also have claimed a ladies open at Tabley after that if he had safely negotiated the final fence. Hattie will always prove hard to peg back on a track like this. Just Maybe (Richard Clark) in third performed with slightly more promise than on any of his other pointing starts in Yorkshire. Primitive Rhythm (Guy Brewer) in fourth never seemed entirely happy.
Just Maybe (Richard Clark) from winner Noggler (Charlotte Brown)
The Younger Horse Maiden had 12 runners and Protecting Heights came from last to first under Guy Brewer to score. Protecting Heights was going to be withdrawn a few minutes before the off as the going was faster than initially thought. He could be described as progressive as he was fourth on his first run in points, third on his second, second on his third and broke his duck on this his fourth. Protecting Heights was flying at the death and made rapid headway during the final three-quarters of a mile. There was a sting in the tail for the winning rider as he was fined £65 for allegedly hitting his mount after the finishing line, an act that any regular racegoers will find very difficult to believe. Runner-up Badr, with Steve Charlton in the saddle and a run under his belt, relished the underfoot conditions, having raced on the flat prior to this season. Third-placed Whinny Bank, partnered by Oliver Greenall, was just pipped at Hornby Castle in March, but was never dangerous here. Another to benefit from the experience of her debut at Charm Park was Red Snow (Charlotte Brown) in fourth and there is further improvement in her. Banners Flying, who could be given a squeak with there being little emphasis on stamina at this venue, was immediately pulled up following a bad blunder six out, while both Crake Way and Willing Whip are getting better without threatening to take a hand in the finish. Broctune Melody was leading when he stumbled on landing and ejected Mark Walford at the 10th.
Crake Way (Clive Mulhall)
Seven horses came under orders for the Ladies Open, which went to Hadeqa, who is a standing dish here. Charlotte Brown did the steering to give her a double on the day. Hadeqa has now won this race three years in a row and who would bet against him making it four in 2007. You also couldn’t discount him adding to his tally in a fortnight. Physical Force and Freya Hartley in second are a formidable partnership and went down by only half a length. Physical Force was a worthy winner at Cottenham in January and has then been thrice a runner-up, on each occasion making his conqueror pull out all the stops. The 16-year-old Silver Groom returned as good as ever in third for Jacqueline Coward, being up with pace before being run out of it on the flat. Wynyard Dancer, with Tina Jackson on top, was fourth and made a pleasing seasonal bow. Heather Lad didn’t give best until late on, while Wrapitup was leading when he unshipped Joanne Brown on the flat prior to the 9th. Alfie Twofourtwo failed to get competitive, disappointing spectators and the stewards alike. The powers that be accepted the explanation of connections. It must be remembered that it was just Abby Hutchinson’s third ride and the horse’s first start in open company.
A 187% book in Yorkshire? Things did get better as this was just the opening show on the Ladies race
Sixteen-year-old Sliver Groom where he likes to be, out in front under Jacqueline Coward
Wynyard Dancer (Tina Jackson) and Heather Lad (Rachael Clark)
The Mens Open was quite a decent contest between ten participants and the combination of trainer David Easterby and jockey Oliver Greenall were successful with Junior Fontaine. On his previous appearance, Junior Fontaine had been a fantastic fifth in the Aintree Foxhunters, when ridden by Jacqueline Coward. You really can’t locate two more different courses, which are poles apart. A strong late surge from Junior Fontaine secured the race. Major Shark lost little in defeat in second. A tight track must suit him as he had run a little flat after doing nicely at Market Rasen in February. Plutocrat was a warm order with Richard Wakeham in the plate following his impressive victory at Hornby Castle earlier in the month, but he could manage no better than third. No doubt he will bounce back to win again soon. Civil Gent (Guy Brewer) in fourth loves it here and, whilst not beaten far, could have been expected to go even closer. Journey and From Little Acorns were each pulled up with problems.
There were 13 horses declared for the Restricted, which saw Mackoy pass the post first in the hands of Katy Hill after a scrap with Magic Route and Tina Jackson up the final hill. However the winning jockey weighed in light and was disqualified. The stewards fined her £125 as she had no explanation for it. Magic Route had been somewhat off colour this campaign, but he was to the fore throughout and gave everything for the cause. He is quite nippy and likes to be handy. Willywont He (Steve Charlton) took second and is beginning to look as though he has more than a modicum of talent. A restricted is starting to appear to be within his capabilities. Third-placed No Info (Clive Mulhall) is a solid opponent on her day and does seem to appreciate the later season events. Shannahyde didn’t do too badly, considering that he despised the ground and it was a reasonable effort from Rare Presence. Everything happened too quickly for Sessay Miller, while Andoria was pulled up lame.
Joy before despair... Katy Hill on Mackoy
Six runners faced the starter for the Confined. Astral Prince has been putting in some fair displays and he responded well to Nigel Tutty’s urgings to hold off the challenge of Colonel Ludlow and Chris Cundall in second. Astral Prince hasn’t always been seeing out the three miles, but kept going to the finish today. Colonel Ludlow is an honest sort and will keep trying in these type of conditions. Ridgeway (Tessa Clark) wore blinkers and had a sharp track and rattle underneath, which meant he was back to something like his old self in third. He hasn’t been right for a while and hopefully this can be used as a stepping stone to better things. On The Mend (Jack Newitt) in fourth has won here in the past, but was a bit one-paced today. Emperor’s Son was a bitter disappointment and may have been undone by the fast going.
The concluding Open Maiden was a dire affair and only one of the six horses taking part could be given a serious chance or had any significant form against their name. Surprisingly, although odds-on, bookmakers were exceptionally generous in their assessment of Hardy Oliver and he duly delivered the goods without so much as a moment’s concern under Oliver Greenall, who was completing a double on the afternoon. The shorter trip might well have helped Hardy Oliver and he has taken time to acclimatize since coming over from Ireland. He made virtually every yard and had five lengths to spare at the line over Iron Trooper and Paul Collins. Iron Trooper does at least reserve his best for this venue, but equally isn’t one to rely on. Rising Whip and Richard Wakeham were third, getting round for the first occasion on their fifth attempt. Although the race time was slow, Rising Whip did show some aptitude for the job in hand and she might have gained a spot of confidence for the future. Stand Up Fred and Lee Bates were fourth.