by Ian Marshall

A large crowd was in attendance at Heslaker, but only 32 runners turned out for the six races, although there were still some useful performers on show. Races consist of just over three circuits of the track and one fence is taken on four occasions. That particular obstacle seemed to cause inordinate difficulties, as a high proportion of runners made at least a mistake at it. There were suggestions that this part of the course had the worst of the light and that the guard rail was somewhat obscured by birch laid across it. 

The Hunt Members contest commenced the afternoon and was a match that saw Blank Cheque and David Coates defeat Flat Stanley and Jo Foster. Flat Stanley went off in front, jumping boldly, except for hitting the 13th, and had Blank Cheque off the bridle by the end of the first lap. However, the favourite gradually warmed to his task and jumped into the lead three out, before readily asserting and coming clear to the value of 25 lengths by the line.

The Confined went to Whitegates Willie under an excellent ride from David Greenway. David was content to bide his time for much of the race, but produced the 12-year-old at the perfect moment to score. Royal Crimson led in the early stages, before dropping right out, then Rubon Prince tried to get a piece of the action, but couldn’t keep up the effort. It was Maitre De Musique and Michael Tate that filled second spot, with Erzadjan (Lee Bates) third and Master Club Royal (Gary Hanmer) fourth. Maitre De Musique remains in good heart, while Erzadjan couldn’t quite get into the argument late on, but Master Club Royal flattered to deceive.

Palisander, trained by Carrie Ford, proved a class apart in the Ladies Open, coming home a wide margin winner. Bounced out of the gate by Caroline Hurley, Palisander never saw a rival and soon built up an unassailable lead. It was a superb display and, if staying sound, he could run up a lengthy sequence, having won at Tabley in April. Class Of Ninetytwo, with Sue Sharratt aboard, couldn’t live with the leader, but was an honorable second. The only other two distant finishers were Zamahareer (Tanya Harrison) in third and Three Saints (Natalie Lloyd) in fourth, the latter being virtually in a different county.

Nick Kent made the long journey for just one ride and booted home Torn Silk to take the Mens Open by three quarters of a length from Dumadic and Nigel Tutty. Formerly with Paul Webber under Rules, when he was usually seen over shorter distances, Torn Silk got the trip well on this tight track. Dumadic has kept his form extremely well all season and is a horse with immense promise. Third-placed Purple Jean had the assistance of Guy Brewer in the saddle and made much of the running, rallying to the cause one headed. She acquitted herself very well in her first open. Border Run and Stuart Ross were fourth. Favourite Dorans Magic got rid of Niall Saville at the 2nd and Uncle Ada didn’t look an easy ride, even for Richard Burton, being the first beaten.

Controversy reigned in the Restricted with Best Accolade adjudged a short-head victor over Gentleman Charles. Winning rider Richard Burton appeared astonished to have gained the verdict in a tight finish. Most observers felt though that Gentleman Charles had held on for Simon Walker. For a warm “jolly”, Best Accolade made heavy weather of getting there in the end. The winner is trained by Sheila Crow and made use of his seven pound youngster’s allowance to keep his unbeaten record. Gentleman Charles can count himself very unlucky and was stepping up on some uninspiring efforts this season, compared with previous years. The third, General Carats, nearly benefited from an enterprising ride from Mark Walford, but was collared on the run to the last. Edward Bear (Kelda Wood) completed the course for only the second time in five years to manage fourth. Barrys Lord was not given a hard time when beaten and Aunt Gladys was in touch until clouting the 13th, from which she began to struggle.

Kindle A Flame was head and shoulders above his four opponents in the Maiden on all known form and Guy Brewer’s mount duly dispatched them in clinical fashion. Owned and trained by Mike and Mary Sowersby respectively, Kindle A Flame might well have been placed in each of his four previous points, but for the fences getting in the way. The funereal pace and less testing conditions enabled the odds-on shot to stay three miles easily. Runner-up Luck In Run’in (Gary Hanmer) is at least fairly lightly raced. Biddy (Jo Foster) in third is still learning and will be a different proposition in 2005. Trigger Castle (Simon Walker), a longstanding maiden, was well back in fourth. It’s hard to see that anything can be taken from this race as an indication for the future.