The inaugural fixture for the Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point Club attracted a disappointingly small crowd, but it is hoped that the organisers do not lose heart and the meeting can find a suitable date in 2008. The going was officially Good To Firm, although it was nowhere near as firm as at the previous meeting here on Easter Monday. Extensive watering for today had a major beneficial effect and the grass covering was much thicker, so it was surprising that there were not more runners.
The opening Club Members Conditions Race saw six horses go to post and was an intriguing contest. Sir Alf goes from strength to strength and he came out on top, still with a little bit up his sleeve. Chris Dawson oozes confidence on this fellow, gradually creeping into contention, and Sir Alf was racking up a hat-trick in 2007. Who is say that he can’t yet add to his total. Going down by two lengths in second was Humbel Origins under Guy Brewer. Humbel Origins is a real handful, but also has talent in abundance. Considering that he is eligible for restricteds, Humbel Origins should be able to find one of those races before going on to better things. Third-placed Sandy Gold (Jo Foster) has put in a sound performance on each start since returning to pointing from racing under Rules, including when picking up a Mordon restricted in fine fashion. The improving Banchory Two in fourth didn’t quite have enough in the tank to make it win number four for the season. Time may tell that this was a well above average event. The four of them had been virtually in line at the penultimate obstacle. Ramirez doesn’t seem in love with the game at the moment.
The late withdrawal of likely favourite Eliza Doalott left seven runners for the Restricted and the honours went to Abandon Ship and Richard Smith. Abandon Ship displayed a sound attitude to forge ahead and be in front when it mattered. He had chased home the impressive Novel Idea at a respectful distance last time. He could be one to be on the right side of at Mordon in May. Runner-up Butler Services came close to following up his victory here at the beginning of April in the hands of Guy Brewer. Butler Services would probably prefer the ground to be even quicker and he would be fancied to win a restricted on a fast surface before the end of the season. The consistent Shapani was guided into third by Chris Dawson on his first attempt at this level and he should continue to give a give account of himself. Twin Bay Cruiser in fourth has his limitations, but is equally keeping a fair standard. The quirky Harwood Dale got himself worked up in the paddock and was pulled up immediately following a horrendous mistake when still in contention. Nick Pearce had come a long way for just the one ride so if none the worse, this run can be safely discounted.
The Mens Open saw seven horses face the starter and Snizort came with a wet sail under Steve Charlton on the long run-in (the final fence was bypassed) to score by four lengths going away. Sporting blinkers for the first time this year, Snizort has always struck me as being at his peak with the headgear on. Even without it, he had been a decent runner-up in the Grimthorpe Cup at Whitwell. Extreme distances are clearly his forte and his campaign has been aimed at these races. Snizort gained his due for his efforts, not winning out of turn. Nick The Silver, partnered by David Thomas, was second and displayed the most since turning to racing between the flags. A couple of nasty falls may have dented his confidence and, with that now possibly having been boosted, this was something solid to build on. April Spirit, with Steve Magee in the plate, was back in third. The plucky and likeable mare hasn’t quite been at her best in recent weeks. Mile High City was a one-paced fourth. The admirable and ever willing Colonial Gunner sadly suffered a fatal fall at the 16th.
Six horses also came under orders for the Ten-Year-Olds And Over Conditions Race, which saw the 14-year-old Sikander A Azam defy a welter burden of 13st 1lb under Oliver Greenall. Whilst he would have toyed with these rivals in his heyday, Sikander A Azam is still capable of holding his own in this company. The in-form Buddy Girie and Philip Cornforth filled second spot on a track where he has won before. He too has plenty left in him. Del Trotter finished third and held every chance when blundering at the last. Laura Eddery did well to stay on board and Del Trotter hasn’t been doing at all badly of late. Rigadoon was back in fourth.
The Ladies Open drew in six hopefuls and was a reasonable affair. Jo Foster undertook a change of tactics aboard Texas Ranger, holding the gelding up at the back of the field as opposed to the usual pace-setting, and her patience was rewarded as Texas Ranger gained the day by a comfortable three lengths. He took his time to go about his business, but grabbed the lead running to the final fence and pulled away in the closing stages. Texas Ranger has only been defeated in races won by Duchess Account and Fiori this year, which is useful form. This triumph gave him the milestone of ten in points. Eastern Royal blazed the trail for Rachel Clark with a big advantage for much of the journey, but gave best late on to be second. This was a dramatic improvement on what he had shown in the past and maybe the drop to 11 stone on his back and being allowed to dominate were the key. Donnybrook in third (Jacqueline Coward) is vulnerable to younger threats. Having been the only one to try to keep tabs on the runaway leader, fourth-placed Gabla faded from the fourth last. Jackson was the dark horse in this grade, but didn’t appear to take a great deal of interest.
Seven horses lined up for the 2m4f Maiden, which went the way of The Good Doctor and Guy Brewer. The Good Doctor quickened up in good style and was soon in command. He had been exceptionally green in two early season outings, but certainly got the hang of things today. There must be bags of improvement in him. Representing the Nick Kent stable were the second and third, Farmer Frank (Steve Magee) and Ruckholme (Nick Kent) respectively. For a four-year-old, Farmer Frank made a highly encouraging debut and could have a bright future. He looked a big threat two from home until the victor’s experience came into play. Ruckholme continues to go in the right direction and should find a race in time. Steve Charlton took the ride on The Real Alydaly in a bid to anchor this hard puller. However, it was to no avail and the five-year-old again set a near suicidal gallop prior to tiring badly into fourth. Octavio probably wasn’t yet done with when departing.
With Culbann being a late withdrawal, just four declarations remained for the 3m Maiden. There was no lack of interest though as two of the runners had been second past the judge on their most recent starts and one of the other pair had exhibited a modicum of ability on his sole outing a fortnight ago. It was the latter that claimed the plaudits as Carbon Footprint, with Freya Hartley in the saddle, stayed on too strongly for Stanley Park and Michael Morley. Carbon Footprint had begun in a Mordon restricted so a maiden was a more suitable level. He was still quite novicey, giving his fences a lot of air, and has the size and scope to progress when more mature. Like The Good Doctor, Carbon Footprint is trained by Maxine Stirk, who is in a rich vein of form at present, after a one-two in the younger horse maiden at Whittington last week. Stanley Park has enough prowess to be up to taking an older horse maiden. Knoxhill Archie (Rachel Clark) in third had been a close second on his last visit here and lost all hope on this occasion with a terrible mistake three out. But for the jumping error, he would not have been far away. Palmand completed in fourth.