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Sunday 19th March 2006

by Ian Marshall
photos by Jonathan Hodd

A bumper nine-race card provided excellent value for money for hardy racegoers on a cool afternoon in Lincolnshire. Good to Soft, Soft in Places, was a fair assessment of conditions that provided a safe landing for fallers during the day.

With 19 out of the 24 entries declared for Division One of the Younger Horse Maiden, it was split into two parts. Part One was the stronger on paper and went to Ask Bobby by the minimum distance. Guy Brewer’s strength in the saddle was crucial in forcing his mount back ahead in the shadow of the post. They had been left in the lead a long way out, were headed before the last, but Ask Bobby showed great tenacity to get back up. He’d exhibited a tendency to jump out to the right on his two visits here in 2005, but today was very fluent at his fences. At the age of seven, he has a bright future and the potential to pick up a restricted. In second, Essennbee stuck to his task well for Mark Bennison and on this evidence might be able to go one better. His fourth here in the Brocklesby members in February is beginning to look reasonable form. The debutant Posh Dude and Joe Docker in third were only another two lengths behind. A half-brother to Briery Fox, who appeared at the Cheltenham Festival in the week, he is the type that trainer Holly Campbell excels with and is one to note in time. Fourth-placed Scattered Scarlet (Ashley Bealby) put the brakes on at the open ditch, fence six, nearly refusing, but causing Top Pack, Sydney Twothousand and the favourite Donald Will Do to exit the contest.

5,6 & 7yo Maiden Div 1. Ask Bobby (G Brewer) and Essenbee (M Bennison) race to the line

Part Two saw Luke Lively, under a power-packed drive from Mark Walford, narrowly get the better of Johnny Venture in what was actually a quicker time than part one. Luke Likely hadn’t appeared anything special on his previous outings at Alnwick and Market Rasen, but he was nothing if not resolute on this occasion. Johnny Venture, Patrick Millington’s Irish import, tried hard on ground that suited and possibly could find a small maiden on a similar surface. Ben Woodhouse guided Riot Act into third and this first-season novice is going the right way. Parsons Leap indicated a little more for Rachel Clark in fourth, while Angrams Gingerbeer will have learnt from the experience. Pre Eminance had made every yard until unseating Matthew Briggs at the ditch on the final circuit, which also claimed Windtalker and Exit Fast. Missile crumpled on landing at the 10th, having received some support in the ring.

2634: 5,6 & 7yo Maiden Div 1 (2). Johnny Venture (P Millington) and Luke Lively (M Walford) jump the last

Division Two of the Maiden featured 12 runners and jockey Mark Walford completed a double on Harwood Dale, like Luke Lively, trained by his mother Gill. The application of cheekpieces has managed to sharpen Harwood Dale up and he doggedly stayed on up the run-in to defy the jolly, True Legend, by three lengths. Harwood Dale had still been in touch when hampered at Market Rasen in February. True Legend received every assistance from Rowan Cope on top, but had no answer to the winner’s challenge. On his two starts here this season, True Legend has displayed sufficient prowess to be of significant interest in a maiden. Protecting Heights got outpaced, but was plugging on in third under Guy Brewer. Although there is certainly room for improvement in his jumping, it wasn’t quite as bad as the race commentary made out. There was a promising debut from Furze Hill (Alex Merriam) in fourth. Welham dropped out quickly and isn’t the easiest to train, however there was a perfectly adequate reappearance by Crake Way under a quiet ride in rear.

5,6 & 7yo Maiden Div 2. Harwood Dale (M Walford) leads coming to the final fence

The Novice Riders race contained 15 hopefuls and the combination of a competent rider and a horse at the top of his game were the ingredients for success that went to Nokimover and Alex Vaughan-Jones. The partnership were making it three out of three in tandem in these races and they are formidable foes in this grade, even with Nokimover having to shoulder a seven pound penalty. Second-placed Only Once and Richard Morgan-Evans were only shaken off between the last two fences and might sneak a little race. Third was Whitley Grange Boy, who stayed on past beaten horses and seems to have a bit more zest since moving to Chris Pimlott. Whitley Grange Boy is giving Oliver Pimlott a good grounding. Teeton Priceless dropping down the ranks was fourth under Sam Jones. El Lute never figured, the tearaway Bunratty Castle ran out at an early stage and Energy Man was out of touch when he sent Tom Parr through the wing at the 11th.

PPORA Members Novice Riders. Nokimover (A Vaughan-Jones)

A field of 11 took part in the Confined, with Just A Man the victor in the hands of Ben Woodhouse. Far from reliable, Just A Man has been more consistent in 2006 than in the past, but there is too much doubt in punters’ minds for him to be a solid betting proposition. Ben dropped his whip, so did exceptionally well to keep his mount up to his work from the final fence. The Graduate in second often goes well fresh and Simon Walker persuaded him to chase all the way up the home straight. Teeton Prince rarely turns in a poor display and he and Rowan Cope filled third spot. Unlimited Free (Jack Newitt) in fourth position paid for being up with a suicidal gallop in the first half of the race and is much better than this. Russian Friend was an early casualty, while Wonder Weasel was prominent for much of the journey. Nick Kent reported that the saddle slipped on Quarter Masters, who was tailed off soon after flag fall.

Confined. Just A Man (B Woodhouse)

Just five turned out for the Ladies Open and their numbers were soon reduced at the 2nd fence by the departures of Near And Phar and the usually sound-jumping Physical Force, with the latter appearing to be unsighted. The long odds-on Upham Lord scared off most of the opposition, but he had to dig deep into his reserves to hold off runner-up Barneys Lyric and Jacqueline Coward. Upham Lord retains plenty of enthusiasm for Jill Dawson for the job in hand and wouldn’t allow himself to be denied. Upham Lord is swiftly closing in on 25 victories between the flags and it is difficult to believe that he won’t achieve this feat. Barneys Lyric put his best hoof forward here, but does seem to have his own thoughts on matters and left Oliver Greenall with a broken collarbone after capsizing at Bangor a month ago. Amy Stennett made a bold bid for victory on Make Haste Slowly on the long haul from four out, but they were soon reeled in and Make Haste Slowly looked cooked in third when taking a tired fall at the penultimate obstacle.

The Mens Open attracted seven runners and The Butterwick Kid collected the top money under Richard Tate. It was unusual to see The Butterwick Kid in points as he is now better known as a hunter chaser and is always going to be hard to beat at this level. He has already won at Newcastle this year and this could have been a confidence booster after a below par performance last time. Plutocrat and Richard Wakeham only went down by half a length and were conceding weight to all but The Butterwick Kid. You would have to think that at levels on an easy track, Plutocrat has an open in him as he was boxing on to the line. The admirably consistent Henry Pearson bagged third for Nick Kent and emerges with credit. Fourth were My Best Buddy and Rowan Cope. My Best Buddy, twice a winner so far this campaign, held every chance, but seemed to be beaten on merit.

Mens Open. The Butterwick Kid (R Tate), Plutocrat (R Wakeham), Henry Pearson (N Kent) and My Best Buddy (R Cope) finish first, second, third and fourth

15 horses set out in quite a competitive Restricted, which turned into a battle between Ruggtah and Bulmer Bank after the last, with the former gaining the day. Matt Briggs punched out Ruggtah to triumph, but Bulmer Bank rallied to the cause for Simon Walker and was only beaten a neck at the post. With just 11 stone on her back, Ruggtah is making full use of her allowances. She was impressive in winning a Thorpe Lodge maiden, but then failed to fire at Mollington, however blinkers reignited her today. Bulmer Bank scored at Market Rasen on his sole appearance in 2004, missed 2005 and has understandably taken time to find his feet in 2006. He can maybe use this as a platform for encouragement later in the campaign. The exposed Sajomi Rona (Ian Smith) was third. Although decidedly one-paced, Sajomi Rona has performed best when there has been cut in the ground. Fourth was Kindle A Flame (Guy Brewer) who was out of the first two for the first time in his completed point-to-points. Differentgear bulldozed the open ditch on lap one, taking a crashing fall and leaving him with a serious leg injury as he returned in the horse ambulance. Linlithgow Lad was a bit too keen for his own good, while Ever So Humbel was backpedaling with a mile left on the course where he won his maiden last term. Gunner Royal was quickly well behind, again made two bad fencing errors, but was finishing as well as anything. If his shoddy jumping can be sorted out, a restricted is within reach for last week’s wide margin winner of a Dalton Park maiden.

Restricted. Ruggtah (M Briggs) leads Bulmer Bank (S Walker)

11 runners came under orders for the Older Horse Maiden and Gollinger came home under a tight rein by 15 lengths in the hands of Richard Tierney after being left clear at the last. Gollinger has clearly benefited from a change of scenery to the Tierneys, having formerly been with the Woodhouse team, prior to missing the whole of last season. Don’t be surprised to see him tried in a short hunter chase because he had appeared to be a non-stayer over three miles in the past. Runner-up yet again was Mighty Rising under Charlotte Cundall. Always a picture in the paddock, even at the age of 11, there isn’t a regular racegoer that wouldn’t like to see this stoic gelding go one better. Coombs Spinney (Oliver Williams) in third had been runner-up in the Brocklesby members last month. Regal Custom will have another day as he wasn’t given a hard time in fourth by Rowan Cope. Summer Stock would have been second if he hadn’t blundered Chris Dawson out of the saddle at the final fence. Green Smoke showed a glimmer of ability.

8yo+ Maiden. Gollinger (R Tierney) jump the last to win

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