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Sunday 12th March 2006

by Ian Marshall
photos by Arthur Thompson

A supreme effort from Clerk of the Course Mike Sowersby and everybody else at the Holderness Hunt ensured that this meeting went ahead. Overnight frost took a lot of the juice out of ground that had been subjected to torrential downpours earlier in the week and the going was no worse than tacky, although it did become more testing as the afternoon wore on. Most of the races took place as snow swept across the track and, with it beginning to lie midway through the card, races were brought forward ten minutes and that was successful in completing the proceedings.

The Hunt Members had just three runners and a single finisher. The honours went to Rare Presence in the hands of Guy Brewer. Having only lost his maiden tag a fortnight ago at Market Rasen, seemingly after an eternity, Rare Presence followed straight up. He was left alone at the third last, when his sole remaining challenger Creative Time took Harriet Bethell through the wing. It was the second run in succession that Creative Time had taken this option and he is therefore one to be wary of. Aunt Gladys was booked for third when coming down four out.

The Confined was an addition to this fixture and produced the biggest field of the day, 11. Just Fluster came out on top, expertly ridden by Steve Charlton. Adopting a midfield position to halfway, Just Fluster crept gradually closer during the final circuit before collaring the front-running April Spirit in the home straight and scooting clear on the run-in. Even though he won a Cottenham restricted last year, Just Fluster hadn’t seemed the safest or easiest of conveyances, however he has returned in 2006 an altogether different proposition. He might now be able to do himself justice and fulfil past promise. Runner-up April Spirit and Steve Magee were always prominent. The mare certainly didn’t throw in the towel and can claim at least a confined. Formerly a chaser, she was third to Sea Ferry at Brocklesby Park in February on her point debut and that winner has gone on to take a mixed open and be second in a Leicester hunter chase, while the fourth that day ,Skew Whip, has since triumphed in a mens open and a Catterick hunter chase. Londolozi Lad (Rachel Clark) in third made several jumping errors, but if he can get his act together in that department, he has shown enough to manage one of these races. The favourite Just A Man was fourth for Ben Woodhouse, but it is difficult to predict how much he will find at the business end. On The Mend seems happiest on a shorter course.

On The Mend (Jack Newitt) from April Spirit (Steve McGee)

The Mens Open could quite easily have been mistaken for a handicap or hunter chase due to the quality of the nine horses in opposition. Robber (Michael Morley) and Mr Mahdlo (Ben Woodhouse) fought out the finish, as they had done at Duncombe Park in February, but on this occasion the positions were reversed, with the former in the ascendancy here. Robber went to the front at the fence before the back straight and wasn’t headed thereafter. Robber is suited by a test of stamina and definitely got it today with the later maiden races taking over eight minutes. Mr Mahdlo needs plenty of stoking along, but he should be back on the scoresheet soon. Chaos Theory and David Thomas in third had been in action at Leicester in midweek. Chaos Theory does appear more at home in this grade. Fourth-placed Was A Drive (Paul Hodgson) is being beaten slightly less far each time. Granite Steps departed at the 9th, whilst Ferdy Murphy’s Ballinclay King is a very interesting recruit to this sphere.

No.5 Chaos Theory (David Thomas), Robber (Michael Morley), Mr Mahdlo (white & black - Ben Woodhouse) and the grey Granite Steps (Nicky Tinkler)

Ballinclay King, Chaos Theory, Robber and Was A Drive

The Ladies Open was contested by seven hopefuls and there was a stirring finish. Duchess Account and Claire’s Nomad were locked in combat in the final quarter mile, with the former just getting the better of the argument. Claire’s Nomad got his head in front on the run-in, but the mare is the gutsiest performer around and she got back up in the dying strides. Emma Brader adopted much more aggressive tactics than usual on Duchess Account and they were up with the gallop with nearly a mile to race. This was Duchess Account’s first win in an open, and sixth between the flags overall. She is as tough as they come and a true crowd favourite. Claire’s Nomad lost nothing in defeat under Rachel Clark. He has returned from injury as good as ever and the calibre of opposition this afternoon was higher than when he lifted a ladies open at Market Rasen last month. Claire’s Nomad is one to be reckoned with in this type of race. Snizort, assisted by Freya Hartley, claimed third and wasn’t disgraced, but was again without headgear. His most pleasing efforts have been with blinkers on. There was another solid display from Iron Express, with Jacqueline Coward in the plate, in fourth. The normally consistent Ledgendry Line was somewhat below his best. Supercharmer and Sally Scally will both no doubt be better off for the run.

Supercharmer (Wendy Gibson) upsides Iron Express (Jacqueline Coward) with the winner, Duchess Account (Emma Brader) out the back

Iron Express, Ledgendry Line, Duchess Account and a big leap from Snizort

The eight-runner Restricted wasn’t the strongest of affairs, but did pit a couple of improving sorts against each other. They came in at long intervals with Charlies Memory scoring by 20 lengths under Jacqueline Coward. He was with Mick Easterby over the sticks and already is to be feared in points. Charlies Memory landed his maiden at Alnwick in January, before falling at the second last when holding every chance in a Witton Castle restricted in February. The facile nature of this victory would suggest that a confined might not be beyond him. Master Jackson and Serena Brotherton were second, having gone on after two miles. They were soon being tracked by the winner though and couldn’t answer Charlies Memory’s late burst. Come Ashore wasn’t given a hard time by Jo Foster, but plugged on in third. After setting a hot pace, he had no more to offer when headed. Mile High City (Wayne Burnell) was beaten a long way out in fourth. Magic Route will come on for the outing.

Come Ashore (Jo Foster) leads from Master Jackson (Sabrena Brotherton) with winner, Charlies Memory (Jacqueline Coward) jumping

Seven participants lined up for the Mares Maiden and Winnie Wild ran out a ready winner with Tina Jackson on board. There hadn’t been a lot to recommend her in points or when outclassed under Rules, but she did this well enough. Runner-up Primitive Rhythm didn’t help rider Guy Brewer by constantly jumping out to the left. She probably needs to go the other way around. Kismet was guided into third by Mark Walford. She has had several chances and is becoming a little frustrating. Willynilly (Serena Brotherton) was fourth and hasn’t quite progressed as hoped after a decent debut at Witton Castle. The well-backed Whinny Bank was never sighted, whilst Rising Whip shaped with some promise, having been an early casualty on her debut at Duncombe Park.

Ten horses faced the starter for the Maiden, which seemed to rest between two partnerships on what had been achieved so far this season. And so it proved with Gunner Royal defying Young Claude by three lengths. Jockey Jacqueline Coward and her trainer mother Cherry were completing a double on the day. Gunner Royal and Young Claude had been sixth and third respectively in Green Admiral’s Witton Castle maiden that is working out so well. Miles Seston tried hard, but was unable to get Young Claude on terms, although the horse has the ability to take a maiden. Toms Party filled third spot for Guy Brewer and is slowly learning his trade. Colonial Gunner (Nigel Tutty) was fourth. Star Prize possibly failed to stay.

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