by Ian Marshall

It was only hardy souls that braved the worst of the weather to visit one of the Yorkshire Area’s premier courses Hutton Rudby on Saturday. The car park ended up a total quagmire and the organisers worked valiantly to rescue stranded vehicles, with tractors putting in overtime. The first race was run in truly atrocious conditions with gale force winds and torrential rain sheeting across the track. I’ve seen blizzards at Catterick and Market Rasen earlier in the year, but this really took the biscuit. The three participants gave it their all nonetheless. With testing ground, the three miles took some getting. In such a strong breeze it was hard to keep fence wings upright and the marquees were in danger of taking off. Having completed four of the eight races and given the conditions every chance to improve, the stewards, after consulting with the jockeys, sensibly decided to abandon the meeting because the safety of all concerned could not be guaranteed. 

The opening contest was the Hunt Members and, although just three took part, there was a nail-biting finish, which saw Maitre De Musique and Michael Tate come out on top. The winner had led for much of the contest, but Welsh March and Nigel Tutty went on leaving the back straight and tried to stretch away. However, Maitre De Musique got back on terms at the final fence and nosed ahead on the run-in as Welsh March tired. Maitre De Musique had come on nicely from a good second to Golden Rivet on his seasonal reappearance at Charm Park earlier in the month. Baby John and Lucy Horner were always in third and couldn’t keep tabs on the front two after the fourth last.

Nigel Tutty went one better in the Restricted, guiding Journey to success. In the leading pair throughout, the striking chestnut gelding stuck on gamely in the last half mile to repel all challengers. Having lacked finishing pace in the past, there was no doubt that he stayed the trip today. Orleans (Simon Robinson) was five lengths behind in second. Orleans is a quirky customer, but obviously likes it here, as he took his maiden at the same fixture in 2003. There was a further two lengths to Mister Bromley and Serena Brotherton in third and it was an extremely promising effort from Mister Bromley in his first restricted. Just Fluster would probably have claimed fourth, but for falling at the last. He’s better than this. That position went to Colonel Ludlow (Guy Brewer), who took on Journey for the lead, but faded late on. Sylcanny was returning from a lay-off and was pulled up when beginning to lose touch. She’ll be sharper for the race.

Texas Ranger and Jo Foster claimed their second Ladies Open in a week with a pillar to post victory, in similar fashion to at Dalton Park last Sunday. They were also owner Richard Chew’s first wins in points. The six-year-old was an expensive summer purchase and was formerly with Charlie Mann. Texas Ranger did get in a bit close to a couple of fences in the latter stages, but looks a class act. Runner-up Emperor’s Son (Serena Brotherton) headed the chasers for most of the way and acquitted himself well in his first open. There was some distance to third-placed Hessac under Wendy Gibson, while Dannicus (Claire Metcalfe) filled fourth spot. Sally Scally once again didn’t get seriously involved.

Lee Bates took over from the unfortunate Michael Morley and partnered Imps Way to a facile success in the Mens Open. Replacing the pace-setting Bowfell at the head of affairs with a circuit to go, the mare jumped soundly and made the best of her way home to complete a hat-trick in points this campaign. A credit to Tracy Corrigan-Clark, she’s also been far from disgraced in two hunter chases. Mademist Sam (Nigel Tutty), an unlucky loser at Dalton Park, went in vain pursuit and couldn’t peg Imps Way back. Only two finished. Bowfell was pulled up by Guy Brewer entering the home straight when a tired third. Londolozi Lad and Philip Kinsella took a horrible fall at the final ditch, but both seemed to have got away with just bruises.

The Yorkshire circuit now moves on to the Middleton at Whitwell-on-the-Hill on 4th April, where the showpiece is the 4m1f Grimthorpe Gold Cup.