Monday saw the turn of the Zetland to stage their meeting at Witton Castle. The ground was on the fast side of good and a huge crowd turned out to view. There was a brace of jockeys in form, including Jack Andrews and Jack Teal, both of whom recorded doubles on the day.
Jack Teal rode possibly the most impressive winner of the day when taking the Open Maiden - Financier, a 5yo son of Dubawi and in excess of 17 hands - he looks a useful prospect for the future being a brother to multiple group contenders including Group 1 runner-up and stallion Desideratum. The pair were never far away and was never asked a question until the final fence where Teal asked his mount to quicken and he picked up in nice style to beat Sulamani The Late and Joe Wright who was having his first run for Lucy Horner. His trainer had nothing but praise for the winner who has produced some useful recruits in the past and thinks this one is no different, "We thought he was as good as Supasundae and will go to Goffs May Sale now... he jumps and stays so we thought we'd go down the point route with him. He's got a great pedigree and we really like him!" said trainer Nicky Tinkler who compared him in quality to one of his former recruits Supasundae, who Tinkler produced to win a bumper and has since won the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Teal's second winner came in the Intermediate race courtesy of his own Matt's Commision. Always prominent and a touch keen, the pair travelled smoothly to the front approaching two out and after a big leap at the last sprinted clear to win with any amount in hand, second was the longtime leader Stagecoach Jasper and third was Sam's Treasure and John Dawson. Owned by Jackie Teal and Rita Williams, connections are keen to continue with this useful son of Beneficial and it looks likely he can progress well into higher company, "He was keen and picked up really nicely after the last... they don't usually pull like that and keep going. I think he's a very nice horse!" said Teal who trains and operates a small yard in Norton near Malton.
The Men's Open saw Battle Range bounce back to form on his favoured quick ground, partnered by Jack Andrews. The pair made smooth headway to lead on the run towards the last and stayed on well to win easily and score, Soleil d'Avril was bouncing back to form for Will Easterby with first time blinkers and some forceful tactics, whilst Another Dark Rum was back in third. The winner was returning from a long absence earlier in the season after leg problems and was Jacqueline Coward's final winner at Hexham.
Jack's double was completed with Royal Chant and also completed a double for trainer Cherry Coward, the pair won again in easy fashion to pull clear on the flat and beat Midnight Milly and Christy Furness, whilst Spruce Up was third. The winner made a pleasing debut at the Sinnington and then disappointed at the Bedale, but a return to decent ground has seen a transformation in the son of Royal Anthem, "We were pleased with him at Sinnington but ran no sort of race at Bedale, it was probably too soft and he loves this quicker ground" said Jack Andrews.
The Ladies Open was run at a fast and furious pace led by the winner Argot and Amie Waugh, formerly a useful flat recruit and hurdler, the winner scored in a 2 mile hunter chase earlier in the season, the pair scorched a trail from the front and easily stayed on well to fend off Amy Collier and Impact Zone who stayed on in to second, whilst A Country Mile showed something like his old form in third. Trained by Jon Barlow it was a worthwhile visit up to Witton Castle after connections made the 278-mile round trip.
The Hunt Members saw a slight upset as Express Du Berlais won for Joe Wright and Lucy Horner, the pair were never far off the pace and held off the odds-on favourite Mistissio and Richard Smith who retired last season but returned for this one ride, there was a gap then back to Dream Flyer and Christy Furness in third.