Fast ground was on offer for the first time in Yorkshire in 2008 and the course had been put back expertly after the deluge at the meeting here a fortnight ago. It was somewhat quicker though in my opinion than the official description of Good, Good To Firm In Places.
The Hunt Members had a quartet of participants and the result was exactly the same as in 2007, a victory for Rushing Again and Lucinda Sutcliffe. Making every yard, it was a well-judged ride as Rushing Again stretched away from the third last and was a comfortable ten lengths to the good at the line. Rushing Again might not have had much to beat, but the 13-year-old did it well enough. Villa Mara secured second in the hands of Pip Tutty. Villa Mara is only a modest maiden and, although he tries, it will be a bad race if he is to get his head in front. River Trapper (Laura Eddery) in third was giving five pounds to his three opponents, but he was struggling to keep up from four out. Pingpong completed at a respectable distance in fourth.
The Younger Horse Maiden saw the biggest field of the afternoon, 15, and Hello Noddy was the impressive winner by 15 lengths. Although there were question marks against many of his rivals, there was no doubting that it was a nice bit of work from the chestnut. Having got his fencing sorted out at last, Hello Noddy has displayed what he can really do on his two starts at Easingwold. Left clear when Lucky For Laura departed, Hello Noddy strolled home at his leisure. He should eventually be up to taking a restricted. The doubtful stayer Octavio was runner-up under Joanne Brown. Octavio’s form is somewhat mixed and this was his finest hour. Ansells Legacy made much of the running for Michael Morley and ended up third. He didn’t do at all badly and is still largely unexposed. Jabo in fourth never looked like winning without being beaten out of sight. Thatsthereasonwhy couldn’t get into it, whereas Knoxhill Archie was in midfield when he came down five from home. Lucky For Laura was giving Hello Noddy something to think about and was a couple of lengths down when she got rid of Steve Charlton at the penultimate obstacle. She wouldn’t have been far away if she had stood up.
Seven horses turned out for the Novice Riders race, which was quite an open affair. Klondike Charger chased the leaders for most of the journey and, even at the age of 14, found the best turn of foot from the top of the hill to claim the spoils. He did appear to have something to find on the book, but stayed on resolutely to triumph. On his favourite course, Astral Prince filled second for Pip Tutty. Sticking to his guns after being to the fore throughout, Astral Prince didn’t give up and ran his usual sound race. Held up by Emma Dwyer, Be The Tops was running on late, but could never quite get on terms and was third. Be The Tops had been a fast finishing second at this venue a fortnight ago and continues to acquit himself well. Monte Cristo in fourth had strong credentials and was far from disgraced.
Seven horses came under orders for the Mixed Open, but Danteco declined to set off with the others and therefore just six went on their way. Richard Armson came up from his Midlands base for a single ride and that should have been a signal in itself as he persuaded Gabor to grab the trophy. Gabor needs plenty of scrubbing along, but with him, extra effort from the jockey yields extra effort from the horse. He had picked up the York & Ainsty members’ contest at the earlier fixture and Easingwold is clearly a course that Gabor likes. Whilst he is never overly enthusiastic, Gabor doesn’t lack ability if it can be squeezed out of him. Queenies Girl often runs well here and she took second for Paul Frank. She is versatile as regards both trip and ground and is generally a fair sort. The favourite Jupiter’s Fancy will have relished the rattle underfoot, but could do no better than third. Chris Dawson’s partner had chased home the useful Chorizo last time and was expected to take all the beating today. Reflex Blue was a little more responsive than of late in fourth.
The Confined featured six hopefuls and they produced the fastest time of the day. There was a right scrap from the final fence between Brown’s Beck under Steve Charlton and Madison De Vonnas with Freya Hartley in the saddle. Brown’s Beck dug deep to carry off the prize in a close finish. Finally, this admirably consistent customer had his optimum ground conditions on the firm side of good and he didn’t disappoint, continually pulling out more to repel the runner-up’s persistent challenge. The going had been against Brown’s Beck all year, yet he had run some fine races in defeat against top opposition. It paid to be handy in this quick affair and Madison De Vonnas battled on valiantly when headed. He played his part to the full and is another that keeps coming up with the goods on a regular basis, not least than when he collected the competitive Middleton members in April. He is much improved in 2008. Buddy Girie and Philip Cornforth were behind this pair in third. The 15-year-old didn’t go down with a whimper and showed plenty of spirit to be as close as he was. Fourth-placed Sales Flow jumped decidedly indifferently and couldn’t land a blow.
There was another solid look to a Yorkshire Restricted as a field of 12 lined up for this version. Consecutive races had gripping climaxes with on this occasion Jimmys Duky and Lucy Bell coming out on top by a neck from Mandalay Bay and Pip Tutty. This was Jimmys Duky’s seventh attempt in points and he is yet to put in a bad effort. Jimmys Duky is a decent type at this level and so far has proved that he has the talent to step up in grade again. This may be his rider’s first season between the flags, but she has already shown herself to be a highly proficient pilot. Mandalay Bay is usually found keeping on when others have cried enough and today was no different. He seems to run no two races the same, which can be frustrating, but he will probably spring up in a restricted at some stage. Malton was third for Oliver Greenall and looked a threat at the top of the hill, but flattened out when asked to go about his business. In fourth, Primitive Rhythm ran arguably her best race in a restricted and it could be that she has stamina issues, which aren’t so pronounced at this track. There was another commendable display from Out To Lunch, while recent course winner Come On Pops wasn’t knocked about and has more improvement in him.
The Open Maiden had five runners and Oliver Greenall coaxed a win out of Special Order at long odds-on. This fellow was easily the pick on form as he had been in the first four on four occasions this year, although he had generally been beaten a fair way. Special Order isn’t one of the stable stars, but he did incur a back injury on his seasonal bow and might still be feeling the after effects of that. Runner-up Hailes Hill (Mark Bennison) is very moderate, but he did seem to put it all in this time and posted a personal best. Detroit Storm was off the bit more than a mile from home, but kept boxing on for Nigel Tutty to be third. To The Wire never got anywhere near the lead and ended up fourth. At least he has the potential to improve with age.