Incredibly still conditions greeted racegoers at Hutton Rudby, in complete contrast to the hurricane force winds of twelve months earlier. The three miles took a lot of getting in soft ground that had a couple of heavy patches. The meeting looked in some doubt at the start of the week, but sterling work was carried out to get the eventual go-ahead, although many runners kept away on account of the going. The open ditch was omitted in all races, which reduced the fences jumped to 18.
Four horses competed in the Hunt Members and Maitre De Musique and Michael Tate ran out the victors for the second year in succession. The 14-year-old made every yard of the running and had a welter burden of 12st10lb to carry. Although being the first race on virgin ground helped, the time of 7.02 was only bettered by the ladies open. Ginger Biscuit and Paul Frank chased the winner hard on the run-in, but were just repelled. The gelding was being niggled along a good way out and put in some sloppy jumps, but stuck on pretty well. It was only the third occasion that the runner-up had visited the racecourse and he might manage a small restricted in time, having got off the mark in a maiden at Charm Park at the beginning of the month. Profiler (Philip Kinsella) took third and was left behind from the second last. He’s finding it tough between the flags. Nomiret came down at the 13th.
A field of 11 took part in the Restricted that went to Orleans and Simon Robinson. Orleans seems to thrive at Hutton Rudby, having won his maiden here in 2003 and been a good second to Journey in the restricted last year. He dug deep in the final furlong to hold off Snizort and Freya Hartley by a length. Snizort finished strongly, just like when he also filled second spot at Dalton Park last week, and should get his nose in front at this level before long. Mr Sonshine claimed third for Paul Frank. He has had jumping problems in the past, but was allowed to lead and put in many fine leaps at the head of affairs. A similar approach could reap benefits later in the season. Oaklands Luis was back in fourth for Trevor Glass and didn’t run up to his full potential. The Beeker put in a far more encouraging display on his return to a suitable grade. Search Party appears as if he would prefer better ground. The mystery of the contest though was how Just A Man failed to oblige. A much improved performer this season, he was around eight lengths clear at the final fence, made a mistake, however it didn’t look to be enough to halt him. Just A Man found nothing from that point though and stopped to virtually a walk on the run-in. It was a similar story in the latter stages at Dalton Park last week. It is not easy to fathom whether he doesn’t truly get three miles, has his own idea about things or simply needs to be produced at the last possible moment.
The six-runner Ladies Open saw a polished performance from Ikdam Melody. Jo Foster didn’t have to get particularly serious to keep San Francisco (Freya Hartley) at bay in second. Ikdam Melody was getting off the mark between the flags after success over both hurdles and fences in Ireland. San Francisco jumps with enthusiasm and will stand a better chance when he isn’t faced by the likes of Ikdam Melody and Texas Ranger. Emperor’s Son under Serena Brotherton was home in third and couldn’t quite raise his game at the death. Fayalie (Charlotte Brown) was a long way back in fourth. Little Santa almost refused to race and was pulled up after a circuit.
Just four turned out for the Mens Open and there was an overdue victory for Chaos Theory and David Thomas. A contest of this type has looked within Chaos Theory’s grasp for some time. He has an unusually flat style of jumping, which can be disconcerting, although it was highly effective today as this imposing customer bowled along in front and was ultimately never headed. Second-placed Scenic Storm made a pleasing reappearance for Philip Kinsella, hopefully a building block for the remainder of the season. Ben From Ketton, a winner at Whittington a week ago, wasn’t ever really traveling, got in too close to several fences and didn’t respond wholeheartedly to Simon Robinson’s urgings. It was a rare off-day. Stepastray (Simon Walker) finished fourth.
Only four of the ten starters got round in the Confined. There was an impressive win for Mister Bromley and Serena Brotherton, following their top class second to Auntie Kathleen at Charm Park earlier in the month and a triumph in an intermediate at Witton Castle in February. You wouldn’t want to bet against a follow up. A promising effort from Busted Flat and David Thomas in second left the feeling that they will be in the winners’ enclosure before the season is out. He had been fifth at Charm Park in the race where Mr Bromley was second, so got a fair bit closer this afternoon. Max’s Micro, with Lee Bates in the saddle, fared best of the rest in third. Ptah (Freya Hartley) was a country mile behind in fourth. Tailed off after only three fences, Ptah was jumped round, virtually in another county. Having missed last season with a tendon injury, it was to be expected that the outing would be beneficial, but the horse was never asked to take part with the main body of the field at any time. The stewards did look into the matter, but there was no announcement as to the findings. Journey set the pace before fading and being pulled up. He’ll come on for his first run of the year, as will Londolozi Lad and Penny Peppermint, the latter being absent in 2004.
Division One of the Maiden was won by Dayenoo, who was Oliver Greenall’s only ride of the day and the sole runner for trainer David Easterby. Having been placed at Brocklesby Park and Dalton Park this season, natural progression took its course and he wasn’t unduly extended. A follow up in a restricted can’t be ruled out. The other seven participants were headed by Oaklands Ted. Trevor Glass’s mount has shown enough to land a maiden. Polyarnoe Bay and Mark Walford put in another creditable effort in third, even though she is still quite weak. Her previous appearance on a racecourse when third at Market Rasen reads well. Eisenhower (Chris Dawson) in fourth can improve. Alizarin showed up for a long way, but Supreme Optimist is frustrating. Lee Bates was an interesting jockey booking for Bally Leader and, although not easy to train, this fellow is worth a look on his next outing, having only weakened late on.
With just four participants, Division Two of the Maiden was less than competitive, with Queenies Girl and Paul Frank running out the winners. It was a good day for the Franks, while the horse seems best in small fields. Second position a length and a half away was taken by the newcomer Shapani in the hands of Chris Dawson. Maria Myco’s charge is one to keep an eye on with the experience under his belt. There were 15 lengths to Primitive Rhythm (Guy Brewer) in third. It was a first completion for the mare, so might boost her confidence, but she doesn’t strike as a ready-made future winner. Almacash backpedaled quickly with half a mile to race and was pulled up.
A peach of a ride from Rachel Clark meant the gambled-on Been Here Before secured the nine-runner Division Three of the Maiden. Secret Racine cut out a brisk pace and was eventually pulled up, while Been Here Before was held up quietly towards the rear. It was not until after the third last that the youngster got into contention and he took up the running heading to the last, before effortlessly drawing clear to score by a distance. Lynne Ward has her string in fine fettle at the moment and the stable’s runners deserve close consideration. Coverdale (Philip Kinsella) and Mistermagicman (Guy Brewer) were second and third respectively. They appeared to have the race between them, but both began to run on empty with a quarter of a mile to go. Coverdale is learning slowly, however Nigel and Karen Tutty’s horses are yet to come to hand. Mistermagicman is a lovely sort, although it will take until at least 2006 for him to fully strengthen up. Nonetheless, it was a useful display from Alison Pocklington’s grey and his debut at Charm Park had been promising as well. There were only three finishers. On his first start for six years, Fryup Vision kept tabs with the field for three-quarters of the race. The time was nearly 20 seconds quicker than the previous two divisions.