Saturday 13th May 2006
by Ian Marshall
photos by Arthur Thompson
A watered track was subjected to rain overnight that left ground on the soft side of good. Free attendance was a magnanimous gesture from John Wade, on whose land the meeting is based. Jacqueline Coward had already comfortably won the Yorkshire Lady Riders Title in what has been a superb season for her and her trainer mother Cherry. Although she was riding today on the flat at Beverley, a recent article in the Racing Post Weekender highlighted Jacqueline’s talent and she has the style and mindset to go on to even greater success in the future. Guy Brewer went into the card a point ahead of reigning champion Ben Woodhouse as the Yorkshire Gentleman Riders Title came to a dramatic conclusion. In the cruelest of circumstances, Ben retained his crown. He was helped by Michael Brown giving Ben the leg up on three of his inmates normally ridden by others. Even so, coming to the last race Ben had gained a three point advantage, however he had pulled up and Guy had run the sting out of the rest of the opposition including the odds-on favourite, when his mount Toms Party crashed out through the wing of the second last fence whilst clear. If it had been the script for a Hollywood film, you wouldn’t have believed it could be a real life event.
Four horses set out for the Hunt race and Sir Alf was triumphant for the third year in succession under Chris Dawson. Maria Myco’s charge is a capable campaigner, having collected a Catterick hunter chase last year. Although he is fairly lightly raced, Sir Alf is always a force to be reckoned with when he does turn up and could be counted as unlucky when slipping up at Witton Castle on May Day Bank Holiday. He wasn’t unduly troubled to fend off Heather Lad, partnered by Lee Bates, by three lengths. Heather Lad is pretty exposed, but does give his all. Third were Sweeping Storm and Richard Smith. Sweeping Storm was staying on again at the death, having got outpaced. Ben From Ketton (Simon Robinson) in fourth has mostly been below par in 2006.
Members - The winner, Sir Alf and Chris Dawson (green) and third place Sweeping Storm (Richard Smith)
Members - Runner up Heather Lad (Lee Bates)
There were six runners for the Confined. Polar Gale has bags of talent and this progressive six-year-old is going from strength to strength. He was cantering all over runner-up Iron Express between the final couple of fences and the winning distance was a cosy neck. Polar Gale is on the upgrade and made it three from four in points. At Hexham in a fair hunter chase earlier in the month, he wasn’t given a hard time when his chance had gone. Iron Express kept boxing on for Guy Brewer in the closing stages and remains in good heart. Longer distances are his forte, judged on his victory at Flagg Moor on Easter Tuesday. Clever Fella (Steve Charlton) showed improved form in third. Dun Distinctly (Nigel Tutty) was a weary fourth.
Confined winner Polar Gale (Chris Dawson) and Clever Fella (Steve Charlton)
A quartet lined up for the Mens Open, which saw Noggler swoop late under Ben Woodhouse to collar Major Shark and Guy Brewer after the last. Noggler was supplementing his win in an intermediate here in March and would have bagged a Tabley ladies open if he had stood up. Small fields are his preferred scenario and he had previously been highly tried in hunter chases. Major Shark has now been runner-up on four occasions between the flags. He needs to be kept interested and more runners appear to be a requisite for a prominent display. Third-placed Buddy Girie and Philip Cornforth haven’t really found their feet yet this season. Joe Di Capo (Simon Robinson) was back in fourth.
Mens Open - Major Shark (Guy Brewer) upsides the winner Noggler (Ben Woodhouse)
A supreme ride from Tessa Clark secured the four-runner Ladies Open for Texas Ranger. Soon clear, Texas Ranger made every yard and never looked like being caught. He has often been at his best when allowed to dominate, but, according to Jo Foster, hasn’t been his true self for a while. This could be a positive omen for 2007. He upstaged the long odds-on favourite Wilfie Wild and Lynne Ward. Wilfie Wild was given an awful lot to do and had little hope of getting to the hare at the head of affairs. Nonetheless, he has had a superb year and there is still time for him to find a hunter chase. Hadeqa, partnered by Charlotte Brown, wasn’t at home on the surface in third. Londolozi Lad took a tired fall at the final fence.
Ladies Open - From flag-fall to the finishing post for Texas Ranger (Tessa Clark)
Ladies Open - Wilfie Wild (Lynne Ward) and stable mate Londolozi Lad (Rachael Clark)
Ladies Open - Hadeqa (Charlotte Brown)
The Restricted attracted nine competitors and there were still four in contention at the last. Willywont He came home strongest of all in the hands of Ben Woodhouse to win the war of attrition. Willywont He has been most consistent after getting off the mark in the 2005 Staintondale hunt race. His jumping leaves a lot to be desired, but he has tremendous speed on the flat. The ground seems to be the key to Sessay Miller in second. He won his maiden here on heavy and this was easily his best effort since. Richard Wakeham was the pilot and Sessay Miller could be worth following next season if conditions are favourable. Close up in third was Browns Beck, with Steve Charlton in the saddle. Browns Beck is another nice sort who should add to his tally in the future. Fourth-placed Victor One and Chris Dawson weren’t able to quicken sufficiently in the final 200 yards. Nampara Cove looked far more in love with life than has often been the case.
Restricted - Ben Woodhouse on the winner, Willywont He
The incident-packed ten-runner Open Maiden decided the destination of the Yorkshire Gentleman Riders Title. Ben Woodhouse went into the race three points ahead, but Guy Brewer appeared to have wrestled it back from his grasp as his mount Toms Party was set to take the spoils, but he inexplicably ran out at the second last with the race at his mercy. Toms Party’s brother John Rich has his own thoughts on the game so it could be a family trait. The horse that eventually profited was Top Pack, with Michael Morley in the plate. Marti Mulhall trains this fellow, who was with Nicky Richards under Rules. He had gone close twice before between the flags and might have another race or two in him. Fifth Column was a short-priced jolly, but could manage only second. Shane Byrne came from the National Hunt fixture at Hexham to take the ride, but his efforts were in vain. Fifth Column had chased the leading Toms Party as that one set a good pace and, as a result, was very tired in the last furlong. Rising Whip was third, being nearest at the finish. Richard Wakeham was hard at work after half a mile and the mare certainly has more than enough stamina for the job. Connections are expected to resort to blinkers next year and if they can persuade her to pick up the bit earlier in a contest, she has the ability to carry off a maiden. Crake Way was booked for second behind Toms Party when he too fell foul of the penultimate obstacle. He lay winded for some time, but was apparently none the worse for his spill. He is finally beginning to exhibit his capabilities and is far from a slouch.
Maiden - Willing Whip (Richard Wakeham)
Maiden - Ben Woodhouse on Red Snow heads for the start in the last race of the 2006 Yorkshire season