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Saturday 29th April 2006

by Ian Marshall

photos by Jonathan Hood

Extensive watering meant that the course was in tip-top condition with ground in the main on the soft side of good. Whilst the sun was out, it was a lovely afternoon, but as soon as cloud rolled in temperatures dropped and the large crowd began to filter away.

Four horses went to post for the Hunt race and the odds-on favourite Victoria’s Boy prevailed under David Coates. It was a comfortable victory and continued David Coates’ recent monopoly of this event. Victoria’s Boy is expected to head to Cartmel for a hunter chase, where he has enjoyed himself in the past. Runner-up Atlantic Crossing and Nick Bannister were held at bay by the winner, although they are fair performers on their day, and it can only be a matter of time before Atlantic Crossing gets his head in front in points. Aughmor River (Alistair McEntyre) put in his best effort for a while in third, although he was constantly playing catch up. The maiden Rosdari (Niall Saville) moved up threateningly at halfway before fading into fourth.

Members - Victoria's Boy (David Coates)

The Novice Riders race had nine runners and Duchess Account complemented her victory here a year ago under Emma Brader and was value for more than her seven-length winning margin. Duchess Account was available at amazingly generous odds, considering that she had been campaigned exclusively in opens this year. Her finishing pace is now legendary, but she was in front with over half a mile to go and steadily drew clear. The Eens and Daniel Fitzsimmonds are remarkably consistent and ran up to standard in second. The Eens is a dour stayer and will no doubt still have a race or two in him. Hugo De Perro (Luke Johnson) consented to jump off and wasn’t disgraced in third. Hurricane Bay (Kirsty Fitzgerald) in fourth finished for the first time between the flags, suggesting that he can get better in the process.

Novice Riders - The Eens (D Fitzsimmons)

Eight horses contested the Ladies Open and Snizort and Freya Hartley took advantage of a mistake at the last by runner-up Sally Scally and Tina Jackson. The return of headgear for Snizort worked wonders, as did coming back to a course where he has excelled in the past. Phil Watson’s eight-year-old scored at both Hexham meetings in 2005 and he is likely to follow the same route next month. Sally Scally stepped up on her efforts so far this year, but on this evidence is no back number. In third, Prominent and Sue Sharratt are a fair partnership. Rose Tea (Jacqueline Coward), a nice looking grey, was only left behind from the top of the hill and is at last coming to hand. Mister Bromley dislodged Serena Brotherton at the first.

Ladies Open - Sally Scally (Tina Jackson) and Snizort (Freya Hartley)

Seven horses turned out for the Intermediate, which went to Gunner Royal and Jacqueline Coward. Gunner Royal came to join long-time leader Purple Jean at the last and stayed on soundly on the short run-in. The winner didn’t get too far behind, as he has done on a couple of occasions in 2006. Gunner Royal will need to smarten up his jumping though because he made several alarming blunders and in higher echelons they will cost him dear. Second-placed Purple Jean seems happiest in smallish fields, when she can dictate the pace. Purple Jean responded well to Guy Brewer’s urgings to be just touched off. Ferryport House and Adam Wadlow were third, although they had no answers to the front two. Petrouge and David Coates came fourth, with Petrouge gradually getting better with each outing this term. Rebel Lad was a warm order, but had to be cajoled along out the back of the field from an early stage and failed to get within striking distance.

Intermediate - Gunner Royal (Jacqueline Coward) and Purple Jean (Guy Brewer) fight it out

The Mens Open attracted just five runners, but was not without incident. Ricky B and Adam Wadlow beat Major Shark and Chris Cundall by three and a half lengths and were the only two to complete. Ricky B isn’t all that big, however he lacks nothing in the way of courage and this was his third triumph from his last four starts. Once Ricky B gets in the groove with his fencing, he can be difficult to stop. Major Shark should be winning soon, although it is not easy to work out which is his optimum ground and whether he prefers a long track like this or a short course such as Easingwold, where he was second a week ago. Ben From Ketton was completely tailed off and exceptionally tired when unseating his rider at the final fence. It is highly questionable that Simon Robinson decided to continue on an apparently exhausted horse and the stewards took a dim view of the situation, fining the jockey £150. Rebel Army, like his stablemate in the intermediate, was never traveling or jumping with any zest and this was a rare off day. Ricky B was perhaps fortunate to collect though as Robber, who is a thorough stayer, had gone to the head of affairs and was two lengths ahead running to the second last when the saddle slipped virtually underneath the horse and Michael Morley had no hope of keeping on board.

Mens Open - Ricky B (Adam Wadlow) and Mister Shark (Chris Cundall) approach the last

The Restricted was quite an open heat, with the seven runners being pretty closely matched. Mile High City has contested most of the strongest of these races in Yorkshire in 2006 and his turn was overdue as, assisted by Michael Morley, he dug deep into his reserves to defy Shannahyde and Jacqueline Coward by a length. Mile High City has been giving best in the last half mile in the past since arriving from Ireland, but he saw out the trip well to hold on. Shannahyde likes a distance in excess of three miles and good ground or softer, so this test was just his cup of tea. Whilst he isn’t blessed with terrific speed, Shannahyde does come into his own when the mud is flying. There was a decent display from Shafts Chance and Kelda Wood in third. Sound Advise and William Kinsey were back in fourth. The favourite Kong King came down at the second, Harwood Dale departed at halfway and Sajomi Rona held every chance when running out through the wing in the back straight on the last lap.

Restricted - Mile High City (Michael Morley) jumps the last to win

Ten horses took part in the Open Maiden. On his British point debut, Noble Persian under Sue Sharratt carried off the prize. He had exhibited hardly any more than a modicum of talent in Ireland, including no shows in a couple of bumpers, but came good at the first time of asking here. A restricted under similar conditions might come his way. Runner-up Young Claude, in the hands of Miles Seston, isn’t able to change gear when it matters and even extreme distances are proving beyond him. Fair Doo, with Guy Brewer in the plate, was third and has ability, but is becoming frustrating, although he is only six. Deux Bons Amis (Luke Johnson) was a one-paced fourth, just in front of Red Snow. Little Rebel appears to be a tricky customer and was less than assured at her fences.

Maiden - Young Claude (Miles Seston) and Fair Doo (Guy Brewer)


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