A month after the first fixture here, Brocklesby Park was in excellent condition and the ground felt firmer underfoot than the official “good, soft in places”. However, the horses went well in and three miles took some getting.
Seven runners featured in the opening Division One of the Younger Horse Confined Maiden and Henry Pearson got off the mark under Nick Kent. Placed several times over hurdles and in point to points, Henry Pearson gained due reward at last. Noggler (Steve Charlton) in second is going the right way, but the one to take out of the race is undoubtedly third-placed Return Fire (Joe Docker). The six-year-old loomed up to challenge entering the home straight, however couldn’t find an extra gear between the final two fences. He wasn’t knocked about by his rider and Holly Campbell’s charge is likely to improve further. The gelding’s only previous appearance had been when never dangerous in a restricted at Welbeck a fortnight ago. Geordie MacGregor and Patrick Millington were a distant fourth.
Division Two of the Younger Horse Confined Maiden attracted nine hopefuls and Teeton Babysham showed a good attitude to power up the run-in and make best use of his five-year-old allowance with Andrew Sansome aboard. He was much calmer in the paddock than on his two previous outings and has the size and physique to go on to better things. Dannymolone battled hard in second for Ben Woodhouse and ought to find a race in the near future. Filling second spot close behind Honor And Glory at Charm Park two weeks ago reads well too. Chanteuse (Philip Kinsella) also ran a nice race in third and again has considerable potential. Ask Bobby, with Guy Brewer in the saddle, was fourth. Like on his visit here in February, he showed a tendency to jump out to the right and this was accentuated the closer he got to the horseboxes. A right-handed track might suit better. The time was significantly quicker than the first division.
A dozen horses lined up for the PPORA Novice Riders race and Strongtrooper and Jacqueline Coward ran out the winners by an easy 20 lengths. Taking the race by the scruff of the neck with a sudden injection of pace with seven to jump, Strongtrooper soon had his rivals on the stretch and Jacqueline Coward was looking around for dangers all the way up the home run as her mount simply hacked up. Strongtrooper’s useful form under Rules entitled him to win this, but a fine second to Texas Ranger in a ladies open here in February gives him a more than decent chance of victory in that grade as well. This is more runner-up El Lute’s level and Richard Collinson is a competent pilot, while Tom De Savoie (Richard Morgan-Evans) in third is consistent. Devonshire (Peter Bennett) stayed on past beaten horses to be fourth. Lammoski struggles to see out the trip.
Always traveling sweetly, the progressive Russian Friend took the eight-runner Confined under Joe Docker’s guidance and a follow-up under a penalty can’t be discounted. He’d previously beaten a good yardstick in Sweet Citizen in a Welbeck restricted. Runners from the Campbell yard really are flying at the moment. Nick Kent got Quarter Masters to within a length and a half at the line and shouldn’t be long in going one better, having now been placed in all four points. Ardkilly Warrior (Nigel Bloom) in third is coming to the boil and Flat Top in fourth appears to be regaining some of his old verve. The latter had been disputing third when coming to grief at the second last at Hutton Rudby 24 hours earlier, leaving jockey Jacqueline Coward with a bloody nose. She seemed to be exhibiting no ill effects today. Civil Gent always catches the eye in the parade ring and had support in the market, but was a shade disappointing. He should not be written off yet though as trainer Mary Sowersby’s horses are yet to reach anything like top form.
The Ladies Open was a match and a non-event that saw the long odds-on Commanche Hero (Jill Dawson) beat Darien (Anna Watson) by a fence.
Seven turned out for the Mens Open and Mister Friday with Clive Mulhall on board gained his second win in a month. He was shaken up to lead at the last and only had to be pushed out hands and heels to take the spoils. Formerly a novice chaser with Peter Niven, Mister Friday had created a big impression when pouching a hot mixed open at Charm Park. The second there Mr Mahdlo has since landed both a mens open and a Sedgefield hunter chase, while the fifth Ikdam Melody and the sixth Chaos Theory have also secured opens. Second today was Milson Robinson’s Silver Streak (Richard Armson), who is by no means a back number. The plucky front-runner Purple Jean and Guy Brewer claimed third and Stoney River (Nick Kent) didn’t fare too badly in fourth on his seasonal debut.
A big field of 15 graced the Restricted. Those punters who had noted that Hi Up Brenkley had been third to Russian Friend on his previous start were suitably rewarded. Showing great resolution in the final hundred yards, Hi Up Brenkley kept on for Richard Armson’s driving by half a length from Eco Warrior and Nick Bell. The runner-up helped force the pace so did well to remain part of the argument. Gentleman Charles (Simon Walker) performed admirably in third, but can be a bit hit and miss. Second Thoughts (Nigel Bloom) wasn’t beaten far in fourth. Charm Park maiden winner Wee William will face easier tasks. Calder Rosie is a real handful. Clever Nora has now had a couple of fair sighters in restricteds and will be worth a second look on her first foray in maiden company.
There were also 15 declared for the Older Horse Maiden, which saw Mighty Man spring a surprise. Clive Mulhall took over in the saddle from the unfortunate Richard Tierney, who is currently nursing a broken collarbone, on Lady Anne Bentinck’s ten-year-old. Although it was his first outing of the year last time at Charm Park, the run hadn’t pointed to any immediate promise. Mighty Man was reversing placings from that day with runner-up here Mighty Rising. Charlotte Cundall gets on very well with the gallant Mighty Rising and Easter Monday at Charm Park might be a suitable opportunity for them to open their account. Some Story and Oliver Williams were far from disgraced in third. Stormy Crossing (Nigel Bloom) was a one-paced fourth, but will surely come on for the run following three years off. Needs Diplomacy might need more time and favourite Landford Lad was pulled up after a bad early blunder. An Cuaifeach was in contention when departing five from home. Stingo had regressed from her display here in February.