A drying week left near perfect racing ground that was Good in the back straight and Good To Soft in the home straight. The meeting was well-attended by spectators, but it is disappointing to note the lack of runners in the opens
There were four runners for the Hunt Members. Creative Time has been on his best behaviour so far this season and he was rewarded for his efforts under a power-packed ride from Miles Seston. A third of 17 at Duncombe Park in February reads well and he kept on bravely today in the closing stages to clinch the race. Creative Time had held every chance when he went through the wing three from home in this race a year ago. Kindle A Flame and Harriet Bethell chased the winner all the way to the line, but went down by a neck in the end. Kindle A Flame just can’t get his head in front at the moment, but is consistency personified. Only two finished. John Rich ran out at the third last when a couple of lengths off the lead. He really is a law unto himself, yet some ability clearly remains.
The new Veteran and Novice Riders race was a resounding success and saw ten horses come under orders. There was a most impressive winner in Noble Persian, who was making it four out of four in points in the fastest time of the card. Confidently ridden by Gary Hamner, Noble Persian asserted leaving the back straight for the final time and was soon clear. They safely negotiated the last couple of fences and, with his jockey looking round for non-existent dangers, Noble Persian sauntered up the run-in to an easy triumph. He had some decent sorts behind at Kingston Blount last time and could be a live contender for the Hiscox Intermediate Final in May. Runner-up was Jackson in the hands of Jack Newitt. They ought to find a suitable opening before 2007 is out. Chadswell was putting in his best work at the finish in third and prefers the longer tracks like this. Lucy Carr guided Just A Man into fourth, just ahead of Double Rich, and can be very pleased with her first ride on a horse who is quirky to say the least. Colonial Gunner appeared booked for second until he got rid of Nigel Tutty at the penultimate obstacle. Having helped force the pace, this was another solid showing.
Hermes was opposed by just six rivals in a weak Mens Open. Oliver Greenall’s mount had few difficulties in disposing of some modest opposition, although Mile High City didn’t give up in second. Hermes loomed up strongly at the final fence and drew away on the flat. Hermes was striking at the third time of asking after a layoff with the minimum of fuss, however this probably didn’t tell us anything new about him. Mile High City, assisted by Wayne Burnell, produced his most noteworthy performance since coming over from Ireland and does seem to have shown his best when the emphasis has been on stamina. Commanche Sioux and David Cottle were beaten a total of 20 lengths in third. Nearest at the death, Commanche Sioux has so far been ridden like a non-stayer in point-to-points as her hurdles victory was over 2m1f at Market Rasen. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see her sneak a little race. Ballybrophy (Ian Smith) in fourth was off the bridle a long way from home, while Nick The Silver faded in the last half mile. Early leader Lantern Lad had cried enough by the time heads had turned towards the judge.
There were only five runners for the Ladies Open, but there was still an exciting end product. In a ding-dong battle up the home straight, One Five Eight dug deep to hold off Wilfie Wild. Current Yorkshire champion Jacqueline Coward was aboard the victor and her strong handling in no small part secured this success on her sole ride of the afternoon. One Five Eight will be a tough nut to crack in these events as he displayed a good attitude when it mattered to win the day. Wilfie Wild, with Lynne Ward in the plate, stripped much fitter than at Duncombe Park in February and he will no doubt be back in the winners’ enclosure soon. There was a distance back to third-placed Gus Berry (Jo Foster), who will have needed the race, whilst Max’s Micro and Sarah Duell completed for fourth. Snizort looked as though he was sure to take a hand in the finish and was matching strides with the two principals when he knuckled over on landing at the fifth last, even though he didn’t actually appear to make a mistake.
The Restricted was contested by 12 horses and was quite a decent heat. Miles Seston made it a double on the day on Young Claude. Kicking on leaving the far side, Young Claude stole a march on his rivals that he hadn’t relinquished by the post. Young Claude finally got off the mark at Charm Park a week ago when Miles was unavailable, but, reunited with his regular pilot, he followed up quickly here. Now that Young Claude has found the winning feeling, it would be interesting to see how he might get on in the Grimthorpe Gold Cup at Whitwell-on-the-Hill. When Noble Persian took his maiden at Heslaker in 2006, this fellow was second. Toms Party was runner-up today under Guy Brewer. Toms Party needs plenty of cover, being a full brother to the moody John Rich, and was staying on strongly on the run-in, having been fifth coming out of the back stretch. He should find a restricted before long. Harwood Dale ran to form for Mark Walford in third and has an event of this kind in him. Twin Bay Cruiser and Steve Charlton did all right in fourth, as did West Coaster, who is slowly coming back to hand. The favourite Junior Des Ormeaux was pulled up before the second last after being handily placed. He seemed to blow up and will be better for the race. Barrys Lord is an alarming jumper. If he could get his act together in that department, he would be worth a look.
A total of 11 mares lined up for the TBA/MFHA Maiden and Oliver Greenall also completed a double on the card, securing the honours on Whinny Bank. Whilst she climaxed last season with two placed efforts, Whinny Bank had not been at the top of her game on her previous couple of outings in 2007. She was always travelling smoothly and hit the front between the concluding two fences to be two lengths too good for Rising Whip and Richard Wakeham. The runner-up was fitted with blinkers for the first time and they certainly sharpened her up. The headgear could be the key to her sticking to a fair level of performance. With her mind fully on the job, Rising Whip has proved capable enough to find a maiden. In third, Miss Tosca (Tina Jackson) might just have been feeling the effects of a hard race when she was second to Young Claude at Charm Park last week. After a short rest, she ought to be able to pick up a maiden. Kismet (Steve Charlton) grabbed fourth on the line. Grey Tarquin met trouble in running, but did tend to edge left at several fences. She might prefer going the other way round. Mustard Millie didn’t fare too badly until she hit the deck, while Sea Haven looks the part and will be one to keep an eye on if she can gain a little more confidence.
The biggest field of the day was 14 for the Open Maiden. Johnny Venture, with Simon Walker in the saddle, carried off the prize. He had obviously benefited from his Market Rasen pipe opener behind the likeable Spellar Park and, now in the care of Chris Pimlott, there should be more to come. Having never been competitive at Market Rasen in February, second here went to Fromragstoriches under Steve Magee. Now that he is going to get involved, there must be a race in him. A promising third was Keen Whip, who had the services of Richard Wakeham on top. Keen Whip made at least three bad mistakes, including at the second last when he was stopped in his tracks, just as he was beginning to stay on. If he can iron out his jumping, the raw ability is undoubtedly there for this good-looking chestnut to take a maiden. Fourth-placed The Artful Fox (Guy Brewer) might possibly find three miles beyond him at this stage. He could be of interest in the 2m4f maiden at Whitwell-on-the-Hill. Missoudun adopted a midfield position and was entitled to need the race. He wasn’t knocked about once the tempo increased and with the deficiencies in his fencing that he suffered from under Rules apparently a thing of the past, he will be worth bearing in mind in the future. Pecanwood got considerably further than his first fence fall at Charm Park, while Kings Bloom wasn’t disgraced. Butler Services almost refused to race and is one to treat with caution. Cheers Thank You was going great guns, having been prominent throughout, when he came to grief six from home. Following the ensuing melee, Killnascully King was also on the floor.