Official Ground: Good, good to firm in places
Crowds in their masses poured out in the sunshine for the first meeting of the season at Guilsborough and were rewarded with high quality fields and closely run finishes.
Clerk of the course Gerald Bailey and son Johnny opened the first two races with a quick fire trainer/jockey double. The first came in the Members aboard Richard Bowers Pennytino, the 6/4 Favourite. Taking it up from long time leader Scott's Mill (Faye Conway) four fences from home, despite idling slightly to let Teeton Bollinger (Lizzie Harris) to get within 1/2 length of her she came home in front to claim the race for the second year running.
The second leg of the Baileys trainer/rider double came aboard Mrs Moody's impressive Galway Jack in a pillar to post victory in the Confined. Making all he established a 4 length lead turning into the home straight and ran on strongly to finish ten lengths ahead of the decent Mendo (Gemma Hutchinson) with Mnason (Will Telfer) putting in a good run 5 lengths back in third. "He has qualified for the Connelly's Red Mills Final at Cheltenham now but it is really dependant on the ground, the runners and how he comes out of this." Said owner Mrs Moody of the winner.
A small but high quality field went to post in the Ladies and the result saw a reversal in form when odds on favourite The Hookie Bookie was left to chase home Limerick Leader. Enjoying her fifth season with the winner Gemma Hutchinson was content to sit in arrears before taking up the lead 5 fences from home. Despite The Hookie Bookie staying on under Rachel King the winning distance was a decisive 10 lengths with Beet De Bob (Hannah Watson) a further ten lengths back in third.
Another odds on favourite was defeated in the Men's equivalent when Otage De Brion bounced back to form to see off the challenge of course and distance winner Coolefind (Johnny Bailey) to produce the fastest time of the day. Fresh off the back of his second in the Grand National Sam Waley-Cohen was taking no prisoners when setting off in front. Sneaking an unassailable 6 lengths lead at half way he hung on by 1 length with Coolefind in second and Major Euro a further 15 lengths back in third. A Charlie Longsdon purchase, and clearly talented enough to line up in Novice chases when with Nigel Twiston-Davies last summer, has he over come a problem from last time out's 'pulled up'? "No, he is just a "Spring horse'," said owner Robert Waley-Cohen of the winner, "We weren't sure if he would stay the 3 miles, but he needs top of the ground and clearly enjoyed the quick ground out there today."
The first leg of another double came in the Restricted when Tom Ellis partnered the promising youngster Penmore Mill who followed up convincingly from his debut and has made it two wins from two attempts so far. Held up for the first circuit the winner made strong headway to pass his rivals going towards the last and despite a slight blunder finished a comfortable 8 lengths ahead of Dr Kingsley (Will Telfer) and Mr Mackay (Ruth Tutton) a further one length back in third. Sourced in Ireland by owner Ken Hutsby's good friend Victor Lay and trained by Ken's son, Fred, "He has hunted lots this season as preparation but still needs a bit more experience, we will try and find another nice little race for him this season." Said owner Ken Hutsby of the winner.
The second leg of Ellis's double came in the last race of the day: Division 2 of the Open Maiden aboard the improving Lady Barrack. Content to sit off the pace the winner took up the running at the penultimate fence and stayed on strongly ahead of Hooky's Quest (Serena Tyler) and Golden Tangle (Hannah Watson). Privately purchased from Ireland last September, "She will probably have a couple more runs this season." Said trainer Jimmy Tarry.
Division 1 of the Open Maiden, and the faster by 6 seconds, went to Richard Russell's Gunmoney with son John aboard to provide Gerald Bailey with his third training success of the day. Mostly mid division the winner was briefly joined at the last before staying on well ahead of Safeguard (Ben Brackenbury) and Of The Moment (Tom McClory) back in third.