by Dom Bradshaw
Photos by Graham Fisher

Despite the recent unfavourable weather conditions, the Midlands Area Club meeting at Thorpe Lodge went ahead on Sunday with no problems.

The opening Club Members race looked an open affair on paper and provided a close finish with Joe Docker and Nautical Lad getting the judges verdict from the fast finishing Marston Modes (Ashley Bealby) with Fisherman Jack (Matthew Mackley) a further 10 lengths back in third.
In fact, many punters thought that Docker had eased up too early at that Bealby’s mount had actually got up on the line, but the judges disagreed, giving the verdict to Nautical Lad.
The winner usually needs the run first time up, so he’ll come on plenty for this. He’s a useful performer on his day and should take more races this season.
Marston Moses is an out-and-out stayer and loves hock-deep mud. He’ll be scoring when encountering his preferred conditions, as will Fisherman Jack, who stayed on strongly to take third on the run in. He jumps and stays particularly well and may be worth trying in a long hunter chase when the mud is flying.
Fourth placed Minella Hotel (Rowan Cope) will come on for the run.
Fifth placed Weavers Choice (Andrew Sansome) found his second wind and was running on again at the death; he’ll strip a lot fitter for this.
Bill Warner’s Euro Alert (Stuart Morris), a smart performer in 2002, was pulled up. He looked as though he badly needed the run and is another who will benefit from this.

Weavers Choice and Andrew Sansome lead the Club Members field at halfway

Nautical Lad and Joe Docker (right) just have the edge over Marston Moses and Ashley Bealby at the last in the Mark Ashton Memorial Club Members

In the Mens Open, Araminta  (Matthew Mackley) was heavily supported in the betting ring (3-1 to evens), but was never travelling and was a spent force a long way from home.
The opposite could be said of the winner, J-Okay (Tim Stephenson), who sprinted after jumping the last to record a four-length victory over Mr Pendleberry (Nicky Tinkler) with Parahandy a further two lengths behind in third.
J-Okay looked to relish the conditions and should be supported when encountering the same again.
Mr Pendleberry has finished second in four of his five starts in points. He's by no means ungenuine and deserves a change of luck.
Third placed Parahandy is slightly one-paced these days, but should continue to give his young rider a lot of fun and could still take a race.
Fourth placed Bold Tactics (Michael Keel) will come on for this.
Araminta clearly hated the tacky going and this run should be forgotten.

Left to right - Mr Pendleberry, Westerton, Joy for Life, Maquilleux, Young Tomo and Rosey Boy are up with pace at halfway in the Mens Open

J-Okay and Tim Stephenson spring a surprise in the Mens Open

Upton Adventure (Emma James) was the proverbial “hot-pot” in the Ladies Open, but like Araminta in the previous race, was never happy on the ground and was beaten a long way from home, finishing third.
The race went to the ex-Henrietta Knight trained Whether The Storm, who came home clear under a fine ride from Emily Jones with Find Me Another (Amy Stennett) a further ten lengths behind in second.
The winner looks useful and has plenty of scope for improvement. He'll be winning again soon.
The runner up doesn't look like a "battler" and although he’s a safe conveyance, he’s proving expensive to follow, but if putting his best hoof forwards, then he could take a race of this calibre.
Like Araminta, Upton Adventure’s run should be forgiven.
Fourth placed Lucky Master (Gina Swan) gives the impression that he needs more of a stamina test.
Nokimover (Gemma Hutchinson) was still going well enough when appearing to be carried off the course. He had jumped well up to this point and looks to be more than capable of taking a race or two.
Mullensgrove (Sarah Phizacklea) was never going well and needs to be treated with caution until he shows a more willing attitude.

Whether The Storm gets plenty of encouragement from Emily Jones to land a gamble in the Ladies Open from 
Find Me Another and Amy Stennett

Julian Pritchard gave Catechist a confident ride in the Restricted, taking the race by the scruff of the neck to come home two lengths clear of Coolefind (Stuart Morris) and Sissinghurst Star (Peter Mann).
The winner, who’s had his problems in the past (broke down in 2002) is obviously a useful animal and if his legs hold up, then there’s no reason why he can’t step up in grade.
Coolefind, by Phardante, will appreciate better ground and should take a Restricted.
Sissinghurst Star seems to save his best for Thorpe (a maiden winner here in 2003), but will have to improve if he’s to score in this company.
Caroline Bailey’s Budle Bay (Rowan Cope) looks the part, but will need to improve on his fourth place here if he’s to take a restricted.

Two craftsmen in action - Julian Pritchard and Catechist (left) just get the better of Coolefind and Stuart Morris in the PPORA Club Restricted

The gambled on Guignol Du Cochet ran out an impressive winner of the PPORA Club Members Novice Riders race. Predominantly raced over two-miles when trained under rules by Lydia Richards, he had no stamina doubts here. Assertively ridden by Glyn Slade-Jones, the ten-year-old quickened when asked and readily came home ten lengths to the good, with River Ness (Ms V Thirlby) and Picket Piece (Marc Goldstein) filling the minor places.
The winner looks as though he’ll be at his best on the faster tracks and should be capable of following up in similar grade.
River Ness made a pleasing pointing debut here and could take a small race, as could the one-paced Picket Piece.
The favourite, Drum Battle (Thomas Messenger), was slightly disappointing in fourth as was the veteran Better Future (John Taylor) who finished a never nearer fifth.

Guignol Du Cochet and owner/rider Glyn Slade-Jones are comfortable winners of the PPORA Novice Riders Race

There were three division of the Maiden, with the quickest, and most impressive winner coming in division two in the shape of ex-Mary Reveley trained Misty Ramble, ridden by Graeme McPherson (who shares the same name as Madness front-man, “Suggs”).
Always up with the pace, the nine-year-old always had the rest of the field stretched out and despite a couple of wobbles from the jockey, he ran out a convincing winner.
He won’t look out of place in restricteds and it would be “madness” to say that he won’t score again!
The French-bred Keegan Bearnais (Tom Mann) chased home the winner and should be able to take a small race.
Third placed Nickit (Stuart Morris) stayed on at the death and will be better suited by a stiffer test of stamina.
Jelly Nolan’s The Green Goblin was relegated to fourth on the run in and will be better for the run; he should be capable of taking a small race.
The well-supported Gollinger (Ben Woodhouse) was a spent force a long way from home and gives the impression that he doesn’t see out the trip in points.
Coombs Spinney (Joe Docker) wasn’t knocked about on his pointing debut and should be noted.

Misty Ramble has Graeme McPherson looking round for the rest in a pillar to post win in the Open Maiden Div 2

Earlier in division one, Coole Glen (Stuart Morris) got the better of a tussle with Fast Lane Harry (Richard Wakeham), coming home a seven lengths clear, with Arctic Summer (Jon Trice-Rolph) a further seven lengths back in third.
The lightly raced winner has shown decent form in the past two seasons and should be able to step up to restricted company if remaining in good health.
The runner up had looked a short runner in the past, but stayed on well enough to show that he may yet get his head in front.
Arctic Summer will need to find a weak race if he’s to break his duck.
The well-supported New Lodge Express appeared to be staying on well when pulled up on the final circuit. He came back sound and the explanation given by Tim Stephenson to the stewards was accepted, though the paying public were not informed as to what this was! Definitely one to look out for in future.
The Caroline Bailey trained Coral Bay (Rowan Cope) wasn’t asked too many serious questions on his pointing introduction and will come on for the experience.

Coole Glen and Stuart Morris come clear on the run in to win the Open Maiden Div 1

The final, and slowest race of the day, division three of the Maiden, fell to Cashew Cache, who kept finding more for Mark Wall when challenged by Jenny’s Charmer (Fred Hutsby), prevailing by a length.
The winner carried the dreaded MacKenzie, Selby & Harris “squiggle” when last seen on the course in 2002. On this evidence, he doesn’t deserve one, though it has to be said that he’ll have to improve if he’s to take a restricted.
The runner up, having her first run since last seen under rules in 2000, did everything asked of her, but will need plenty of luck if she's to find a race as soft as this one in future.
A distance behind the first two came Northsprite (Jon Trice-Rolph) who has now been placed nine times in maiden company and looks very moderate.
Spare a thought for Sian Carter, the rider of eleven-year-old Sales Dodger. For two weekends running, Miss Carter has attempted to get past the first fence. Last week, she was unseated at the first and this week, the horse ran out at the first. I’m sure everyone will keep their fingers crossed that they manage to reach the second fence on their next attempt!

Jenny's Charmer and Fred Hutsby lead at the last only for Mark Wall to drive Cashew Cache past on the runin for victory in the Open Maiden Div 3

1. Nautical Lad (Joe Docker)
2. Marston Moses (Ashley Bealby)
3. Fisherman Jack (Matthew Mackley)
Dist: No distance announced for the winner,10 
10 ran

1. J-Okay (Tim Stephenson)
2. Mr Pendleberry (Nicky Tinkler)
3. Parahandy (Harry Dowty)
Dist: 4,2
13 ran

1. Whether The Storm (Emily Jones)
2. Find Me Another (Amy Stennett)
3. Upton Adventure (Emma James)
Dist: 10,20
8 ran

1. Catechist (Julian Pritchard)
2. Coolefind (Stuart Morris)
3. Sissinghurst Star (Peter Mann)
Dist: 2,8
11 ran

1. Guignol Du Cochet (Glyn Slade-Jones)
2. River Ness (Ms V Thirlby)
3. Picket Piece (Marc Goldstein)
Dist: 10,2
10 ran

1. Coole Glen (Stuart Morris)
2. Fast Lane Harry (Richard Wakeham)
3. Arctic Summer (Jon Trice-Rolph)
Dist: 7,7
12 ran

1. Misty Ramble (Graeme McPherson)
2. Keegan Bearnais (Tom Mann)
3. Nickit (Stuart Morris)
Dist: 10,8
14 ran

1. Cashew Cache (Mark Wall)
2. Jenny's Charmer (Fred Hutsby)
3. Northsprite (Jon Trice-Rolph)
Dist: 1,Dist
10 ran