by Mal Davies
Photos by Graham Fisher

It was a very poor day’s racing at the usually well subscribed Whitwick Manor on Sunday; the meeting, postponed from the original date in February with entries standing, was beset by mass defections from the entered horses and just a handful lined up in the eight races. The weather wasn’t overly bad, though there was a gale blowing most of the afternoon.

MISS MOSS under local stalwart Ray Rogers won a two-horse affair in the members, from favourite No Fiddling ridden by her owner Rachel Reynolds.

Miss Moss and Ray Rogers (nearside) just get the better of No Fiddling and Rachael Reynolds in the Hunt race 

The Confined field had looked interesting at entry stage, and nine faced the starter. Victory, in a fair time, went to favourite CAUGHT AT DAWN and Tom Weston, a distance clear from 8-1 shot The Archdeacon and Tim Stephenson. Hijacked attracted some support, but was pulled up by Dave Mansell on the first circuit, and in truth, this left the favourite very little to beat. Highbridge ran better than a bare reading of the form might suggest, and will be better for the race.

Runners in the Confined heading for Whitwick Manor - from the left Hijacked (Dave Mansell), The Archdeacon (Tim Stephenson), Ole Gunnar (Mark Wilesmith), winner Caught at Dawn (Tom Weston), Aztec Rule (Scott Joynes) 
and Ceasars Reign (Tom Faulkner)

Caught At Dawn and Tom Weston are well clear at the last in the Confined

The Mens’ Open was a weak affair, with just four going to post, although they were evenly matched. There was some money for Steve Flook’s Shamel, who had run at the Leicester hunter chase meeting earlier in the week. He flattered to deceive and was probably beaten when falling two out, leaving the way clear for SPEED BOARD and Jason Cook to clean up. Lyphards Fable was second. Persona Pride put in a very blotchy performance for Jon Trice-Rolph, and may not have appreciated the clinging ground. The winner will struggle to take a stronger event.  

Speed Board and Jason Cook are comfortable winners of the Mens Open for the Heygate Gold Cup

If the Mens’ Open was a poor race, the Ladies version was even worse. In fact, it is the poorest race I’ve seen, maidens included for a couple of years. The four runners’ form figures read Allotrope PFPP-PP, Dunston Heath P0-UU, Fuero Real P-P8PP and Lord Castle PPUP-PU. It was frankly dreadful fare. For the record, punters managed to send LORD CASTLE off as favourite, and he obliged, after a fashion, beating the only other finisher Allotrope by 18 lengths. Allotrope looked totally wiped out at the line, and as I didn’t see him come back into the paddock, I hope he was OK.

Lord Castle (Miss H Lewis) takes the Ladies Open with ease

TOM PUTT took the restricted, another race with no strength, by 5 lengths from Paddy Betalot, with Huntersway back in third.  There was heavy support for the new Irish import of Dick Baimbridge’s, Father Tom, but he slipped and decanted Julian Pritchard before we could see what he was made of. He must be worth another look.

Tom Putt and Ben Pauling return after their success in the Restricted

The first division of the maiden was a fair race, by the standards of the day, and Steve Flook’s BEAUCHAMP ORACLE was a decisive winner from Classic Fable.

Runners in the Maiden Div1 at halfway - Classic Fable (A Hanly) leads from Norton Wood (Miss R Reynolds), Snitton Salvo (M Jackson), Norse (R Hodges) and the winner the grey Beauchamp Oracle (S Hughes)

The day finished with two other maidens, the first providing most of the day’s drama as the Flook horse Legend Of Light unseating Steve Hughes at the last with the race at her mercy. This allowed the longstanding maiden SNITTON WEST to nick a fortuitous victory. He’ll surely struggle in Restricted company.

Halfway in the Maiden Div2 as runner up Channels Brook and Tim Stephenson lead 
from the red colours of the winner Snitton West and Mark Jackson

Tim Stephenson pocketed the last aboard his own NEW LODGE EXPRESS, from Kirkfield and Stockton Wolf.

Maiden Div3 winner New Lodge Express (Tim Stephenson in orange colours) and the runner up Kirkfield (A Hanly) lead the field out onto the the final circuit

Shame about this meeting; it is usually massively popular, and maybe the switch to a Sunday didn’t help, given that there was also a rearranged meeting at Eyton up the road. Its hard to say I saw anything which looked worth following next time.