The second meeting this weekend since the resumption of racing was the Middleton at Sheriff Hutton, by kind permission of Mick Easterby. There was a healthy turn out of runners on ground that was described as good, good to firm in places and all the action could be viewed online as it was live streamed and presented by former jockey Andrew Thornton. As was the case at the opening meeting at the Hurworth, this meeting was held behind closed doors and therefore no public could attend. The feature race at this meeting was the Grimthorpe Gold Cup which is run over 4 miles and it was an exciting finish.
Five horses went to the post for the Grimthorpe Gold Cup, which despite the tough current climate has been supported and sponsored by the Grimthorpe family. Former winner One Conemara took his place in the line-up for the fifth time and took the field along for most of the race, however was pestered most of the way by fellow veteran Cup Final, trained by Sarah Dent, the 12yo battled hard up the run in and had only the efforts of Point The Way and Joe Wright to fend off and with a good jump at the last stayed on gutsily to win by two lengths "the plan wasn't really to be at the front, but he's an old horse and he wanted to go forward so I just let him enjoy himself" said Ross Wilson who was recording his first win in this prestigious race "we got him from Ben Haslam and he's such a lovely horse, he's a lovely nature and such a kind character" said trainer Sarah Dent who kept her string in work throughout lock down and is reaping the rewards now for her dedication. Third place went to the Northern raider Killer Crow under Charlotte Dun who has been running consistently in hunter chases this term.
The opening Hunt Members race saw a good training performance from Jack Teal who produced Shepherds Cave to return from nearly a two-year absence after suffering an injury at Sedgefield in 2019. Teal and his mount led after the second and dominated the race from there on, Super Lunar and Will Milburn made his challenge turning for home but lacked a finishing kick and filled third spot, whilst Game As A Pheasant who was an easy winner on Monday stayed on stoutly from the back under Jack Andrews and finish a very close second.
Division 1 of the Open Maiden went the way of Cheshire raider Cotton Rock who was getting off the mark after a good effort at Larkhill before Christmas. The winner led over the last and had the debutant Desjay and Joe Wright to fend but did so in gutsy fashion, Kimberley Boy was in hot pursuit in third under Phil Lawrence and both look to have excellent chances in the coming weeks.
Division 2 saw the Coward team get off the mark on the day with Cool Desire partnered by Jack Andrews for local owner John and Jenny Nellis. The winner was travelling well turning for home and battled well to beat the Will Easterby trained and ridden Trap For Fools, it was only the winners fourth career start and with this big step forward should be capable of improving further "he has holidayed with me as a youngster and I quite liked him, he's by Scorpion so should improve with age now" said owner Jenny Nellis who was delighted with her winner.
The Oriental Club Conditions race would be a first career win for rider Tara Stockwell, who rode and trained the former Rebecca Menzies inmate Mr Witmore, leading over the last, the pair had only to fend of Shantou Prince and Christy Furness on the run in and pulled six lengths clear by the line. 17yo Tara works for trainer Lucinda Russell full time "I couldn't believe we were still in front and going so well at the last" said a delighted Stockwell, who's charge was bought privately by her mother last year. Shantou Prince made a welcome return to form in second and the faster ground in the coming weeks could see him get his head in front, while Spanish Arch stayed on from the rear for third.
The most impressive winner of the day came in the final 2m4f maiden as the Jonathan Barlow trained Rafferty made it a pillar to post success as him and his young rider Lewis Dobb. Dobb who has been working for trainer Laura Morgan for the last 2 years, was recording his first success between the flags and did it in style with an eased down 20 lengths "it wasn't the plan to make it...but he jumped and galloped" said his rider of his mount who was formerly trained by Stef Keniry and was returning to the track after a two year absence. Second went to the Will Easterby trained and ridden Euro Fou who was returning from a spell over hurdles and third went to Le Pinchy and Nick Orpwood.
Dark Mahler would score in the second race the Conditions race under Joe Wright for trainer Freya Brewer, the winner had been running with great credit in hunter chases this season and deservedly got his head in front here and provide his jockey with a 50th career success. They had to work hard though to hold off locally trained Monbeg Chit Chat and Christy Furness who if for a better jump at the last may have reversed the places, with Global Racing Chasing them home in third.
The Restricted race went the way of the very consistent Dressedforsuccess under pilot Tom Greenwood for trainer James Latham. The pair flashed home to catch Bonamargy who looked the likely winner coming to the last under Dale Peters, who in the end could only manage third and the new Rosie Howarth recruit in Rossderrin in second.