by John Bulman

Wetherby saw a glorious day for racing and made me wonder if I should venture “down south” more often if this is what the weather’s like down in the Yorkshire area (see last weeks review from Kelso!!).

The first race was div. 1 of the young horses maiden and provided me with my greatest Internet research result so far. Star of Raven had run reasonably behind some good horses in Ireland, most notably Henrietta Knight’s Inca Trail. Star of Raven was relatively quiet in the market so rewarded us “shrewdies” with odds of 6/1 and a fairly comfortable win. Another Irish import (and another I had picked out off the net – not that I’m boasting!), Colonel Ludlow ran well enough in second to suggest a win is not beyond him. Knysna Bell was staying on well in second and is capable of better.

Division two went to Mr Sonshine who stayed on well for the Frank family. The race had been incident packed with the leader Gatsby carried out by a loose hose coming the other way round a bend. The incident could have been worse but fortunately no harm looked to have been done. Gatsby was travelling very well at the time and was an expensive purchase for Jenny Powell (surely not of wheel of fortune fame??). This one goes into my notebook although it is unlikely to run in the North.

Quite a hot ladies race was won by Classofninetytwo who had a ding-dong battle with the North’s old warrior Balisteros who made the winner fight all the way to the line. Nothing else really got into the race and the well fancied Silver Groom fell when starting to make headway and looked lame afterwards.

Division one of the men’s open went to Good Vibes under Gino Carenza. This former useful hurdler fought bravely all the way to the line to defeat Mr Pendleberry and Nicky Tinkler who ran a race full of promise.

Division Two of the men’s went to Omni Cosmo Touch who provided a double for Niall Saville. This had been a reluctant performer under rules but jumped his rivals silly to score quite impressively.

The restricted provided, for me, the most impressive win I have seen this season so far. Royal Corrouge, just a 5 year old had won on his British pointing debut at Alnwick in January and followed up here by galloping his rivals into the ground and staying on well to win comfortably. This horse should continue to improve and looks likely to progress on to better things.

The first of the older horse maidens went to the strongly fancied favourite Nomadic Star for Peter Atkinson. The full brother to Go Nomadic was perhaps fortunate to win as Underley Park seemed to be going better when he took advantage of his jockey looking round and losing concentration by ducking out coming to the second last. I imagine he won’t have been terribly popular with connections after the race but he should be able to gain compensation by winning soon. Nomadic Star is a bit one paced but stays well and is probably still improving despite being an eight year old.

The second division brought a long overdue win for the Vic Thompson trained The Preacher Man under R. Greene. The Preacher Man has had a string of placed efforts to his name but to be fair, in the past, he has come up against some of the best maidens around. The Preacher Man has been called some unpleasant names as he has flattered to deceive, however on Sunday he quickened up nicely and kept galloping all the way to the line. Having taken so long to get his head in front, you would think he might struggle in restricteds. On the other hand, he obviously has ability and it wouldn’t be the biggest shock if he were to win again quickly. Sharpaman came from a long way back to grab second but the winner had already flown.

All in all a very pleasant day’s racing was had with big fields and some good finishes and impressive performances. The ground was testing and Wetherby seems a long course although nothing seemed to come from off the pace to win. The form from the maidens at Alnwick (Jan 19th) was backed up with wins for Royal Corrouge, Nomadic Star and The Preacher Man as well as a promising run from Knysna Bell. Based on this form, Magic Performer and Finest of Men could be worth backing next time they run.