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13th March 2005
by Ian Marshall

Dalton Park was bathed in sunshine on a cool day and the crowds were entertained by some exciting racing on holding ground. It was pleasing to see four out of the seven races go to lady riders, a rare event in Yorkshire.

The opening Hunt Members saw three of the six runners in line at the second last and it was The Graduate and Simon Walker who were ahead at the post. The Graduate won this race back in 2002 and put in some useful efforts last year, before rewarding trainer Tony Walker’s persistence today. The horse was helped by getting ten pounds from the second Nordic Crest (Mark Walford) and seven pounds from the third John Rich (Guy Brewer). Nordic Crest will have easier tasks, even in opens, with a run under his belt, while John Rich was amiable, but it’s hard to know whether he will be next time. Ballyards was fourth and had the assistance of Steve Charlton. He’ll be better off back in maiden company, but a bad blunder at Witton Castle in February might have dented his confidence. Needs Diplomacy was in touch when taking a heavy fall at the 15th, however Where Eagles Dare appeared unmanageable.

Rachel Clark’s only ride of the day was a winning one aboard Rising Talisker in the nine-runner Mares Maiden. At the age of 12, Rising Talisker was looking exposed, but she certainly wasn’t winning out of turn after a handful of second places, three of them coming this season. It could have been different though if runner-up Oso Tilley hadn’t got in a bit tight to the last as there was only half a length between the pair at the line. Jo Foster’s mount is capable of landing a maiden on this evidence. Dracaena and Philip Kinsella in third couldn’t quite quicken sufficiently when it mattered, but could find a small race. Kismet was fourth under Mark Walford and had previously been campaigned at around two and a half miles in three runs in 2005. She was rather one-paced in the home straight. Lady Lola set a frenetic early gallop and was a hairy ride for Nigel Smith before capsizing at the 9th, while the equally hard pulling Black Rainbow ran out at the 3rd.

Ten were declared for a competitive Mens Open and old adversaries Mr Mahdlo and Mr Pendleberry locked horns once again. Mr Mahdlo came out on top for Ben Woodhouse, but there was hardly anything in it at the finish with Shackleton and Oliver Greenall in second. It was so close that neither Mr Mahdlo nor Shackleton took up their respective positions in the winners’ enclosure until the announcement came over the tannoy. A short head was unsurprisingly the verdict. Mr Mahdlo is going to remain a big challenge to overcome in mens opens. Fresh from a victory on Star Jack in a hunter chase at Ayr on Friday, Ben Woodhouse already looks like being hard to catch for the Yorkshire mens title between the flags. Shackleton landed a decent confined at Brocklesby Park in February and showed he is a force to be reckoned with. Mr Pendleberry and Nicky Tinkler secured third continuing a string of good performances. Step Lively (Wayne Burnell) claimed fourth. She must have at least a little confined in her. Supercharmer made the running before fading and will come on for the race. Blank Cheque unshipped David Coates at the 2nd.

Eight went to post for the Ladies Open and the market suggested it was a formality for the hat-trick seeking Texas Ranger, with all the others weak in the betting. It turned out somewhat differently though, Ledgendry Line and Serena Brotherton scoring by ten lengths from Bloomfield Storm and Louise Allan. Ledgendry Line wasn’t at his best in 2004, but returned to form with a bang. Bloomfield Storm is probably up to getting his head in front again. San Francisco (Freya Hartley) paid for forcing it up front in the first half of the race and ended up third. Silver Groom (Jacqueline Coward) got going too late as ever in fourth. Texas Ranger walked the final few yards for fifth, having missed the break, and couldn’t take up his customary position at the head of affairs until after a circuit. The favourite gave the 12th a hefty belt and, although he appeared sound afterwards, it is possible that he might have incurred some kind of back injury.

12 horses contested the Restricted, which went to Wilfie Wild and Lynne Ward in a time only five seconds slower than the mens open. Wilfie Wild went about his business in impressive fashion, hitting the front at the penultimate obstacle and striding clear by a decisive ten lengths. This complemented a prominent display at Charm Park a week ago, where he bumped into a real tartar in Vics Fane. Snizort with Freya Hartley in the saddle stayed on past beaten horses to take second. A restricted ought to come his way before too long. Jockey bookings suggested he was Mary Sowersby’s second string, but her other entry Aunt Gladys was in third under Guy Brewer. Guy reached the career milestone of 50 winners in point-to-points at Whittington on Saturday. Nampara Cove (Trevor Glass) was a shade disappointing in fourth and is better than this. Just A Man was in second, but exhausted, when being sensibly pulled up by Ben Woodhouse at the last. He’s come on leaps and bounds this season. Hattie took her usual fearsome hold and established a huge lead, however she couldn’t maintain it for the full three miles.

Kiora Bay beat ten rivals in Division One of the Maiden under David Thomas. The bay went about his task willingly and created a good impression in the process, having been to the fore throughout. The winning jockey doesn’t get anything like as many rides as his ability deserves. Duggleby (Clive Mulhall) put a poor effort at Charm Park last week behind him to be second. Black Rainbow (Tina Jackson) fared much better in her second race of the afternoon to be beaten three lengths into third. A maiden is well within her sights. In fourth, Jey Jey Keen (Ben Woodhouse) needs to brush up his jumping if he’s to get closer. Skew Whip is gaining valuable experience and gave encouragement for the future. Coverdale dropped out rather tamely and Phartoobig had a crashing fall at the 7th. If the latter is none the worse, he might be able to fulfill some promise as he was able to be kept under restraint today.

Nine runners turned out for Division Two of the Maiden and Magic Route and Tina Jackson landed the spoils for the rider’s partner Howard Thompson. Magic Route had shown ability at Whitwell-on-the-Hill and Easingwold last season, so there was no fluke about the victory. It was a welcome return to winning ways for the jockey after being beset by injuries in 2004. Senza Scrupoli fought all the way for Chris Dawson to go down by half a length. With placed form on the flat and in a two mile selling hurdle, Senza Scrupoli might have been thought a doubtful stayer. However, he kept on strongly and certainly won’t be the same 20-1+ next time out. Dayenoo (Oliver Greenall) was a further length behind in third and isn’t the most straightforward of rides. Like the runner-up though, a maiden might be in the offing. Fourth-placed Prioritisation was found wanting as the tempo increased and will need every bit of the Woodhouse magic to fill the winners’ berth. The consistent Bobby Buttons put in a rare poor performance and may have missed his regular pilot, the injured Nigel Tutty. After nearly refusing at the first two fences, there was a respectable debut from Black Shuck. Rare Presence gave Guy Brewer no chance of staying in the plate at the 5th. The open ditch was omitted on both circuits, having been damaged in the previous race.

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