The Staintondale got the Yorkshire season back into full swing this weekend with a tremendous turn out, not just of runners but spectators. The ground had dried out nicely and was on the soft side of good and provided some top class racing, with the feature race been the Timico Mixed Open, this was a £1,000 race which is a qualifier for the final at Cheltenham in May.
The Mixed Open was the feature on the card and despite there been only six runners it was a decent field, Path To Freedom was sent off the odds on favourite, but the Overton Open winner never got a look in under John Dawson as he settled in behind the trailblazer Shimla Dawn. Partnered by Emma Todd, Shimla Dawn led from flag fall; the pair got a breather in with a circuit to run and after three out surged clear to win impressively by 15 lengths and leave his rivals in his wake, Path To Freedom was eased in second, whilst the progressive Maguires Bridge filled third. Formerly trained by Mark Walford where he lost his way under rules, Shimla Dawn got off the mark on New Years Eve at Cottenham, however due to the weather has been foiled on a run ever since, "He was set to run about three times but they kept been abandoned. we weren't quite sure how well he'd stay three miles, but he clearly gets it fine!" laughed Emma Todd after her 15 length demolition, "We had hoped to qualify him for Aintree but we missed out this year, that will hopefully be his aim next season" continued Emma.
Another wide margin winner came in Division One of the Open Maiden and went the way of Eurobond under Joseph Williamson, trained by Andrew Nicholls. The Scorpion mare hinted at some ability two weeks earlier when a well held fourth but never looked in doubt here under a very positive ride from his rider. The pair looked to have the race well in hand when Scarlett Peak crashed out at the last and left her a distance clear of her other rivals. This was Joseph's first winner between the flags after a couple of winners under rules, he's currently based with trainer Tony Coyle and looks a jockey on the up. "I wasn't shocked but I was a bit surprised, I knew once she got on better ground she'd fly!" enthused the winner's trainer Andy Nicholls who caused an upset with punters at 20-1.
Another novice rider who's doing well this season is Billy Garritty who partnered the Guy Brewer trained Refusal to victory in the Restricted race. The pair held a good advantage throughout the race and in similar fashion to when he broke his maiden, powered clear in the home straight to take a commanding win. Mr Pepperpot ran well back in second for Will Easterby, whilst the outsider Golan's Choice stuck on well for third. The winner put up some good efforts last season and looks to be getting the hang of things now and although he has plenty of miles on the clock could progress from this.
Another decisive win came in the opening Club Members race for Fiona Reveley and John Dawson with the talented Dance Of Time. Will Easterby ensured the there was a strong gallop throughout as he pushed on from the front aboard Monsieur Jourdain, however Dance Of Time cruised in to contention on the run to three out and despite a gallant effort from the pacemaker, John Dawson's mount eased clear on the run towards the last and was a very easy winner, Grouse Lodge put up a gallant effort and stayed on back in third under Jack Teal. The winner looks a potent force between the flags and looks to be enjoying himself in this sphere.
Easterby went on to go one better later in the day as he took the Confined race aboard King's Lodge. The pair set a strong pace throughout and despite been tackled by the strong travelling Six A Side two out, rallied after the last to collar the winner near the line and was backing up his win at Brocklesby Park where he employed similar tactics. Six A Side under Will Milburn were running back to his best after some disappointing efforts, along with Shantou Prince who stayed on well in third under Christie Furness. King's Lodge is showing his best form since joining this team and at the age of 12yo looks to be flourishing, "It's taken me all this time to realise how to ride him!!" laughed Easterby who has been very forceful on the Kings Theatre gelding in his last two victories.
The final race of the day was a Condition's maiden race for horses who have never been placed in the first three and it was to be a two horse race as Calisson d'Alene and Miss Carney shared the lead from the word go and the pair were never headed. A mistake three out handed the advantage to Calisson d'Alene and he stuck on well to win under Tom Strawson, the runner up Miss Carney is improving hand over fist under Will Milburn and she rallied again near the line and will surely be getting her head in front in due course, the favourite Coomacarrea was back in third but could never land a blow on the leading pair.
Division Two of the Open Maiden saw a popular winner as the 10yo grey Unseen battled on well to win under Rory Bevin who despite being based with Tim Easterby tends to compete further South. The pair went on to win from a very tired Robin Of Sherwood and Billy Garritty, whilst Leopard's Leap ran on to take third and he could be the one to take out of the race for the future. "He deserved that, he's been placed loads!" said Rory.