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Saturday 6th May 2006

by Ian Marshall

No watering had taken place in the fortnight since the previous meeting here, consequently the going that was officially described as Good to Firm was very firm indeed. However, there was no shortage of excitement as the small crowd witnessed several close finishes. The bend into the home straight again rode smoothly and the extensive work carried out in the close season has been an unqualified success.

The Hunt race was a match that saw No Info and Clive Mulhall come out on top from Sessay Miller and Richard Wakeham. No Info hardly got out of second gear and sauntered up the run-in to win by five lengths. She took her maiden at Easingwold last year and then was placed last month in a restricted at this venue, so it suits her style of running. Sessay Miller collected his maiden on heavy ground and I feel that a bit of cut would be more to his liking.

Five runners for the Younger Horse Open Maiden and a ready winner in Badr under Steve Charlton. The five-year-old has experience from the flat and was a decent second to Protecting Heights a fortnight ago on just his second start in points. There will still be more to come. Runner-up Broctune Melody (Mark Walford) pulled hard and was left behind once Badr went past four out. These two were a long way clear of Banners Flying (Richard Clark) in third and Boldini (David Sherlock) in fourth.

Six horses turned out for the Confined, which went to Rigadoon and Steve Charlton. Rigadoon isn’t the easiest to train, but he has ability and a third to Astral Prince at Witton Castle on May Day reads well. Colonel Ludlow chased hard for Chris Cundall in second, but a few less than fluent jumps weren’t helpful. Eastern Royal stayed on past beaten horses in the hands of Matt Briggs to be third. Whitley Grange Boy (Simon Walker) was back in fourth.

Six of the nine entries stood their ground for the Mens Open and Queenies Girl, with Paul Frank in the plate, won on the nod by the minimum distance from Civil Gent under Guy Brewer. Queenies Girl scored for the first time in 2006 and has had a hectic campaign. She was returning to the scene of her restricted triumph of last year. Queenies Girl has had her critics even in the face of many placed efforts, but she certainly didn’t shirk a fight on this occasion. Civil Gent loves it around here and kept finding more after he was the first off the bridle. He’ll be no forlorn hope at Garthorpe later in the season. Astral Prince, bidding for a hat-trick for Nigel Tutty, was two lengths back in third and again put in a sound performance, only giving best on the final climb. Fine Times (Oliver Williams) couldn’t quicken sufficiently in fourth.

There were four runners in the Ladies Open. Freya Hartley came in for the ride on Alan Jackson’s Wynyard Dancer and she has grabbed every opportunity that has come her way lately. This was no exception as the mare stuck her head out in game fashion. Wynyard Dancer had landed races at both meetings here in 2005 and benefited a lot from her seasonal bow a fortnight ago. Silver Groom was denied by only a neck and responded strongly to Jacqueline Coward’s urgings. The old boy would raise the house if he could manage a race before May is over. Alice Stirling guided Klondike Charger into a good third. Texas Ranger had the valuable services of Pauline Robson for company, but he couldn’t go with the front three once the chips were down. Texas Ranger just has not been the same horse since blundering badly and possibly straining his back at Dalton Park.

The Restricted was fiercely contested by the six runners and went to Sajomi Rona and Ian Smith by a neck from Willywont He, with Steve Charlton in the saddle. A complete change in approach meant Sajomi Rona was not wearing his usual blinkers and the strategy reaped great rewards as the nine-year-old powered up the run-in in a course record time. Sajomi Rona has been remarkably consistent all year without getting his head in front until now. It was the rider’s first success, but the style and verve he exhibited in giving maximum assistance to his mount from the final fence were akin to the actions of a veteran of 50 winners. The runner-up looks assured of collecting a race such as this, however he made two desperate mistakes and was worryingly low at several other obstacles. It needed all of Steve Charlton’s expertise to remain in the plate and Willywont He could potentially be smart if these hindrances can be ironed out. Mackoy finished third for Katy Hill, but the weight cloth was lost after the last and Mackoy was disqualified after an objection by the Clerk of the Scales. The jockey had weighed in four pounds light at this course two weeks previously when Mackoy had prevailed in that restricted. Times Two, partnered by Ben Woodhouse, was a warm order, but proved one-paced, passing the post in fourth, although naturally he was promoted to third.

The Open Maiden was a very weak five-runner heat and Caribbean Lad showed enough speed in the final furlong to bring Ben Woodhouse within a point of Guy Brewer in the race for the Yorkshire Mens Title. Caribbean Lad was making his initial appearance between the flags and had not been seen at all since November 2003, when he concluded an inauspicious career over hurdles. He must one of the unluckiest horses around as he had already traveled to the races twice within the past month without making it to the parade ring. Firstly, he injured himself in his box at Charm Park, then his intended rider at Heslaker was unable to retrieve his saddle from a horse that had fallen in the previous race. Iron Trooper (Paul Collins) won’t get any easier opportunities, although he did only go down by a neck. The exceptionally lightly raced Twin Bay Cruiser (Steve Charlton) was a further half a length behind in third, while Stand Up Fred (Lee Bates) was back in fourth. The sporting combination of Zebs Lad and Richard Walker finally got round at the 15th attempt to the delight of all present.


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