The Yorkshire season kicked off last Sunday with
the Old Raby Hunts Club holding their meeting at Witton Castle.
Despite the bleak, biting, wind-chilled
conditions, the brave spectators, trainers and riders from “Gods Own
Country” and beyond were treated to an eight-race card and a whopping
total of 107 runners.
The Old Raby Hunt Club Members Maiden Race
The opening race proved an eventful affair.
Legenda (Tom Crags), making his racecourse debut, went off in front, but
came to grief after a circuit, unseating his rider. This left Nomadic Blaze
in the lead on the final circuit. The 7-year-old was leading the field a
merry dance and looking all over the winner when he was baulked by a loose
horse when behind the trees, reappearing without rider Peter Atkinson on
At the business end, Nicky Tinkler forced the favourite, Magic Performer,
home to win by eight lengths with Stormy Sunrise (Annabelle Armitage) and
Bobby Buttons (Nigel Tutty) filling the minor places.
The winning time of 6m40s turned out to be the quickest of the day, although
this may be down to the participants racing on virgin turf, whereas the
later runners had to handle the churned up ground.
Magic Performer wasn’t winning out of turn and taking the time into
consideration, he must surely be more than capable of stepping up to
Both Stormy Sunrise and Bobby Buttons weren’t too far away and should be
able to make their mark in this grade.
Peter Atkinson appeared to still have a lot of horse underneath when
hampered and Nomadic Blaze must score soon.
A sad post-script concerns Legenda, who suffered what was later to be a
fatal injury when running loose.
The interest here was the raider from the other side of the Pennines,
the Gary Hamner trained & ridden Just Cliquot, who was heavily supported
Supporters of the 8-year-old mare never had much to worry about as Hanmer
confidently steered his mount home to win by a comfortable six-lengths.
The mare was given a squiggle by Messrs MacKenzie, Selby & Harris in
their annual last season. This was based mainly on when she took no part at
Chaddesley Corbett, but she doesn't seem ungenuine and she should go onto
further successes this season.
The lightly raced Infamelia (Tessa Clark), returning from a two-year
absence, put in an eye-catching performance, staying on well to take second.
If her legs hold up and she doesn’t suffer from the “bounce” factor,
then she'll have little trouble landing a restricted.
Agent Provocateur (Richard Clark) raced prominent for a long way, but found
a second wind to take third. He’s seemed to appreciate the cut in the
ground and although the time of this race was slow (7m9s), like Infamelia,
he should be able to land a restricted.
John Botham did well to get Sledmere home in fourth, as the nine-year-old
had refused on each of his final three attempts last season.
T’nightsthenight (Dale Jewett) was well placed when missing a marker
turning into the home straight and was followed off the course by Serena
Brotherton on Emperor’s Son, who appeared to be travelling very well at
Texas Ranger, a 15,000gns purchase at Doncaster in 2003, was all the
rage here and although still in the lead heading out on the final circuit,
he made one mistake too many, unseating Jo Foster. Pharlindo, who was a
close second at the time, unshipped Annabelle Armitage at the same fence.
Jumping the third last, Hessac (Miss W Gibson) kicked for home and looked to
have the race sewn up, but hadn’t accounted for the late run of the
popular grey, Silver Groom, who was finishing like a train. Silver Groom met
the last running and sprinted away from Hessac to score by a
length-and-a-quarter to give Jacqueline Coward her first winner.
Now a fourteen-year-old, Silver Groom may have lost some of his speed, but
hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm and this wonderful horse will hopefully
be winning again soon.
Hessac did little wrong here and is still eligible for restricteds, which he
should be more than capable of winning.
Wandering Wild (Lynne Ward) was a further ten-lengths away in third and like
Hessac, will be more at home in restricted company.
Both Texas Ranger and Pharlindo should be able to make amends.
There were only three finishers from fourteen starters here, with a
thrilling “whips at dawn” finish with Mr Pendleberry (Nicky Tinkler),
second to J-Okay at Thorpe Lodge last weekend, just getting the better of
long time leader San Fransisco (Guy Brewer) by half-a-length, providing
Tinkler with a double on the day.
The winner deserved this, as he’s filled the runner-up spot in four of his
last five attempts and should continue to go well in points.
This was a pleasing return to points from the runner up and if reproducing
this, he should be winning before long.
The veteran Blank Cheque (David Coates) plodded on through beaten horses to
take a distant third and is more at home over an extended trip
Another close finish here with Lee Bates forcing home Irish maiden
winner Place Above, unsuccessful when tried under rules in 2003, by
half-a-length from Just Fluster (Richard Wakeham) with the enigmatic
Claire’s Nomad five lengths further back in third.
The winner will undoubtedly improve for this, but the time (6m51s) was
nothing special and he’ll have his work cut out if he’s to score in
Both Just Fluster and Claire’s Nomad have shown moderate form in the past,
but may be in with a shout in similar company.
The well-supported Highland Brig (Ran Morgan) was beaten a long way from
home and appeared to hate the ground.
Open Maiden – Division One
There was a good word here for the
David Easterby trained High Peak, but supporters saw their money disappear
at the first fence where Tom Greenall met with terra firma. However, even if
they had negotiated the fences, it’s hard to know whether they would have
got near the very impressive winner, Ten Bob, who ran out a cheeky
two-length victor, under a confident ride from Niall Saville, who’d won
the first hunter chase of the season at Wetherby on Star Of Raven the day
The six-year-old son of Jurado is trained by Niall's brother, Joss, and
owned by NH trainer Sue Smith. He should go onto better things
Ravenscar (Simon Walker) met a tartar here and should be taking a maiden
Back in third came Oaklands Luis (Trevor Glass), who made a pleasing debut
as did fourth-placed Indian Rope Trick (Jo Foster). Both should be able to
score in this company.
Lethem Air (Dale Jewett) was in contention when departing and should be good
enough to take a maiden.
Rocky Fountain sustained a horrible injury in running, which proved fatal
and sympathy is with connections.
Open Maiden – Division Two
There was a distinct feeling of “déjà vu” here, with Cross River
running out an impressive winner for Saville, Saville & Smith. A
good-looking son of Reprimand, this nine-year-old should be able to step up
The lightly raced Sir Alf (Trevor Glass) gave chase in second, but was never
going to overhaul the winner. Nevertheless, this was a nice introduction to
points by the eight-year-old and he can take a maiden.
Coastal Safari (J. Richardson) was fifteen lengths further away in third,
with the favourite, Clonshire Paddy (Tom Greenall), only fourth.
Open Maiden – Division Three
In Division Three, Sizer was well-supported in the ring to give the
Saville brothers a hat-trick of maidens, but their chances literally “went
west”, as Sizer dived past the fence and bolted, giving Niall the
unenviable task of stopping this looking powerful son of Eurobus before they
both ended up in the River Wear.
At the business end, the race went to Northern area raider Miss Royello
(Dale Jewett) who stayed on dourly to win by four-lengths from Iron Trooper
(Trevor Glass) and Irish Paddy (Richard Clark).
This division was twenty seconds slower than the first division and nineteen
seconds slower than the second and the winner will have her work cut out in
Of the others, High Fields looked to be in with every chance when jinking
and unshipping Tom Greenall two out. He should make amends.
Both Search Party (Simon Walker) and Kindle A Flame (Guy Brewer) were going
well enough when departing company with their riders and should be noted in
Drovers Road (Clive Mulhall) wasn’t knocked about and was doing his best
work at the finish, coming in fourth. He could be ok in time.
In spite of the sub zero temperatures, this
was an entertaining and competitive days racing and although I don’t want
to end on a negative note, I feel as though I must highlight a couple of
The seeming lack of intervention by the
stewards regarding the T’nightsthenight\Emperor’s Son incident left a
slight sour taste in the mouth, especially for those punters who had backed
the pair in the ring.
A little more consistency from the stewards wouldn’t go amiss and if any
of the stewards would like to comment, I’m sure that everyone would be
interested to hear their opinions of this incident.
It was also annoying to see many of the
bookies fail to display an early opening show. Despite the fact that the
horses had left the paddock and were going down, most of the boards were
blank. What was irritating further were some of the over-round books on
offer and the lack of decent prices for the outsiders. Only a handful were
prepared to put the "rags" up at odds above 20/1 and the largest
price I saw all day was only 33/1.
In the past, I have always defended the Yorkshire bookmakers as being fair
and generous, but some of the books on offer here were little better than
the ones I’ve seen on my visits to the East Anglia and North West areas.
Whether this was due to the fact that there was a number of non-Yorkshire
based bookmakers present (from the Northern Area), I’m not sure, but
I’ll be keeping a close eye out during the rest of the season.