A rather low crowd for Easter Monday was present and a brisk, cool wind with thick cloud kept many potential spectators at bay. The quick-draining track served up Good To Soft ground, which was nothing short of miraculous after the heavy showers that had peppered the region.
There was a field of 11 for the opening Veteran and Novice Riders race, which was run at a fast and furious pace and Moment Of Madness made every yard under Alison Pocklington. The strong gallop soon sorted them all out and the 12-year-old recorded the fastest time of the day. At the March fixture here, Moment Of Madness had chased home the smart Eliza Doalott, which isn’t bad form at all. Andre Chenier made steady headway from the rear for Charlotte Cundall, but could quite reel in the winner and had to settle for second. Andre Chenier found the concession of five pounds just too much and, following his recent victory in a Hutton Rudby ladies open, can continue to give a good account of himself. Keeverfield chased the leader from the off and Sam Drake’s mount was third. Keeverfield had scored at Whittington on Easter Saturday and always seems to run his race. More success can come his way. Beauchamp Oracle kept on for a distant fourth.
Just a quartet were present for the Restricted. Natureofthebeast strode imperiously clear in the hands of Miles Seston to bag the prize. Natureofthebeast had created a very favourable impression when picking up his maiden on this course a month ago. That winning debut put him into many notebooks and he looks a distinctly above average sort. Should he get the chance, it would be interesting to see how he would fare under Rules as there must be plenty more to come. Ballela Road and John Dawson were a very remote second. Only two finished. Attrapeur was booked for second, but tired and losing interest when pulled up at the second last. Forge Valley had made all, but was being pressed when he capsized just as things were getting serious.
The ten-runner Mixed Open saw something of a surprise when First Fought, freely available at 50-1 in the ring, was kicked clear by Jo Foster leaving the back straight for the final time and held on grittily to claim the spoils. Once First Fought had poached a decisive advantage, the pursuers were always struggling to catch up. First Fought was knocked down for 3400gns out of Donald McKain’s yard at Brightwells in 2008 and turned to pointing in 2010 having become in the grip of the handicapper under Rules. Runner-up Willywont He (Steve Charlton) invariably gets behind in his races, mainly due to his less than fluent fencing, and once again got going too late to get his head in front. He had closed to an official neck at the line and undoubtedly has the talent at this level, if not possibly the inclination on some occasions. Nippy Des Mottes finished third with Jake Greenall on top. Stepping up in grade after his win in a confined at the previous Charm Park meeting, Nippy Des Mottes was sent off favourite. However, he moved up from mid division before weakening from three out. Well Presented trailed in fourth having got outpaced.
Eight horses came under orders for the Confined and Gunner Jack hacked up under Jake Greenall. Moving powerfully throughout, he cruised through the field from the rear and was still under a tight rein crossing the line. It had been equally plain sailing for Gunner Jack in a similar contest at Dalton Park. A six pound penalty may not be enough to prevent him completing a hat-trick. Madison De Vonnas, with Freya Brewer in the saddle, gave the easy winner the most to do and was far from disgraced. Madison De Vonnas isn’t the most consistent, but is capable enough on his day. Nae Bother At All was guided into a solid third by John Dawson. The nine-year-old didn’t have a change of gear in the home straight, but it was definitely a step in the right direction for a horse that has had his share of problems. Johnny Venture was a one-paced fourth and is out of form at present. Calm Seas was disputing the lead when he departed in the back straight, bringing down Lem Putt. Neither had had to be asked any questions.
The Maiden was a fair event of its kind and attracted 12 runners. Oaklands Robbie fairly trotted up, with John Dawson doing the steering. He joined the leaders full of running and eased ahead. Oaklands Robbie had already passed the post in front, at Duncombe Park in February, but was disqualified as a weight cloth had been lost and his jockey weighed in light. Second came Cashmere Jack and Ian Smith. Making his debut between the flags, Cashmere Jack battled on, but couldn’t stick with Oaklands Robbie. Having been away from the track for two years, Rosedale Abbey ran a cracker in third. Ably handled by Jo Mason, Rosedale Abbey was never far off the pace and can build on this. Only three finished. Bring It On was prominent and bang in contention when he came to grief at the open ditch. A couple of dreadful mistakes put paid to the chances of Our Kenny, while the saddle slipped on Rosa Fina.
The Conditions Maiden was only for those animals that had never finished first, second or third and 15 horses went to post. There was no hanging around and they were soon strung out at long intervals across North Yorkshire. Kirby Wiske was the only horse to chase the long time leader and he kept on admirably in the home straight to prevail by a narrow margin. Kirby Wiske hadn’t shown much in his five previous appearances, but there was nothing wrong with the way he got down to business here. It was jockey Max Johnson’s initial success in the saddle. Oaklands Somthin dug deep for John Dawson, but was just pipped into second. Well bred, Oaklands Somthin was bidding to give owner/trainer Graham Russ a quick double. He is a big, backward sort and can only improve further in time. Ramborob came from a mile back to stay on past beaten horses and take third. A green five-year-old, Ramborob was considerately ridden by Anna Dawson and never quite got to the principals. He has a lot of growing into himself to do and it was a highly encouraging performance. Lewesdon Tom completed for the first time in fourth. Spinney Well led them a merry dance and was still four or five lengths to the good when she unluckily knuckled over on landing at the second last, having jumped the fence perfectly well. After two years on the sidelines, there was plenty to like about this. Taras Joy was entitled to respect on the basis of his Corbridge effort, but was pulled up having got no closer than midfield.