by Dom Bradshaw

The Blankney had the honour of lowering the Midlands Area season at Garthorpe on Sunday.

Rio’s Lord (Patrick Millington), a winner last week at Chaddesley Corbett, turned the Confined into a procession. Leading early, the 10yo jumped well on the whole and was never headed, coming home unchallenged by a distance.
Patrick Millington deserves credit for such an enterprising ride and Rio’s Lord is without doubt a quality horse given the right conditions.
The Vintage Dancer (Nick Pearce) stayed on to take second with The Nobleman, who’d earlier walked over in the Members for Simon Walker, taking third under Nick Docker.
Strewth (Matthew Mackley) appeared to finish lame.

Et Light stepped up on his course win a fortnight earlier, taking the Mens Open. Although he appeared to be hating the ground, Andrew Barlow’s mount battled gamely to deny Julian Pritchard on Lestat by half-a-length. Even though he’ll be twelve next season, Et Light looks one to follow, especially when encountering slower ground.
Lestat ran up to his mark in second and third placed Erni (Andrew Morris) put in his best performance of the season.

In the absence of Upham Lord, the Ladies Open went North with Supercharmer (Annabelle Armitage) just getting the better of Lottie The Lotus (Rosie Goodwin) by a neck.
Annabelle has formed a good partnership with Supercharmer and though he can be a frustrating character, there’s little doubt that given the right conditions (fast going is a must) that he’s a useful performer
The veteran runner-up gave it her best shot, but with her advancing years, it’s hard to imagine her improving on this with another year under her belt.
The favourite, third placed Phyllis (Fiona Needham) was never travelling well and appeared to finish feelingly, as did the winner.

Colonel Carats was gifted the Restricted after his only serious danger, Sydney Hobart, lost his pilot, Alexander Vaughan-Jones at the last, leaving Gentleman Charles (Simon Walker) to take second, with Balmoral Spring (Richard Armson) a further length back in third.
The winner looked to have the race in the bag, so the departure of Sydney Hobart probably didn’t affect the result. Although he only broke his maiden tag earlier this season, Colonel Carats may be able to take a weak confined if showing the same amount of improvement next year.
The runner up is a safe jumper and gives the impression that if finding a little more stamina, he can land a restricted.
Balmoral Spring can take a race of this calibre.
Sydney Hobart has already shown that he has the ability to land a restricted and should have little problem doing so in 2004.
Maiden winner Gudasmum (Fiona Needham) was never going on this quick surface, pulling up. Only a 5yo, she should do better next season.

Division One of the Maiden fell to Scabbard (Harry Fowler) who stayed on to beat the only other finisher, Mid Point Park (Lenny Hicks).
This looked a bad contest and the winner will need to improve if he’s to have any chance if restricted company next season.
Mid Point Park had looked moderate prior to this, but gives the impression that she’s a suspect stayer and would only appear to have any chance in a weak contest over an easy three-miles.
Firle Phantasy (Nick Kent) refused at the last when left in third and simply does not stay three miles.
Hypothesis (Mickey Harris) had finished a fair second to Doctor Spinney here a fortnight ago, but was never going and pulled up after a bad mistake early on. Hopefully this was a one off.
The favourite Joe Smoke (Richard Armson) disappeared behind the trees on the first circuit and never re-appeared… a sad loss for connections.

Richard Armson rounded off the Midlands season with a victory on Regal Bride, getting the better of French Boy (Emily Jane Harbour) by a couple of lengths in Division Two of the Maiden.
Regal Bride is lightly raced and may be good enough for restricted company.
The runner up should have little problem taking a race of this kind next season.
Kingsland Taverner (Mickey Harris) was a further three lengths back in third and will need everything in his favour to land a maiden next season at the age of thirteen.