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Sunday 26th February 2006

by Ian Marshall
photos by Jonathan Hodd

A sparse crowd in Lincolnshire was present on a chilly afternoon that saw heavy hail and rain showers, but some exciting racing. The ground was officially Good, Good to Soft in Places, but soon became tacky, and horses finished tired, although it is fair to say that the course has never been in better condition, as there was no firmness whatsoever.

A match in the Hunt Members saw Fine Times and Richard Armson lead from pillar to post to beat Energy Man and Tom Parr by a distance, although to the naked eye from the stands it looked more like 15 to 20 lengths. Fine Times has won this race in the past and it was a ninth success in points today, indicating that he still retains plenty of enthusiasm at the age of 12. The 13-year-old Energy Man was returning from two years off.

Fine Times (R Armson) & Energy Man (T Parr) make their way to the winner's enclosure

12 runners set off for the Confined and Henry Pearson and Nick Kent got the better of The Vintage Dancer and Richard Barrett by two lengths. Owned by Kit Cottingham, Henry Pearson can usually be relied on to put in a decent display and should continue to pay his way. He was in receipt of five pounds from the runner-up, who again performed with credit. Mark Walford steered Bengal Boy into third. Bengal Boy’s previous efforts had been pretty uninspiring, but maybe this could be a springboard to better things. Phar Glory (Nicky Tinkler) was well back in fourth. Phar Glory hasn’t had much recent racing and leaves the impression that a longer trip might suit. Highlands went off like a hare, but had given way by the third last, while Snizort, without blinkers and under a ten pound penalty, will come on for the run and usually reaches his peak towards the end of the season when the headgear is applied. Motcomb Jam caused Richard Hunnisett to lose an iron at the first fence and soon ran out, swiftly making a bee line for a deep dyke in the middle of the course that was too wide to jump over. Richard received an uncerimonious ducking, but thankfully horse and rider were unscathed for their damp escapade.

Henry Pearson (N Kent) crosses the line whilst the jockey checks on the runners up: The Vintage Dancer (G Kerr) and Bengal Boy (M Walford)

Seven horses took part in the Ladies Open, with Claire’s Nomad with Rachel Clark in the saddle coming out on top by a length from Physical Force under Freya Hartley. Claire’s Nomad had been useful in 2004, but missed 2005 when he “developed a leg”, and passed through the ring for just 1,000gns. With the same Clark stable now, there had been much to like about his comeback at Brocklesby Park. A winner at Cottenham on the opening day, Physical Force is a different kettle of fish this year, having appeared not to get three miles earlier in his career. Aunt Gladys and Sally Ireland were a long way behind in third. Left Bank (Ursula Moore) was fourth after being prominent for the first couple of miles. Creative Time and Del Trotter both crashed out through the wing in the back straight on the final circuit. Ridgeway stopped very quickly and was pulled up three out. Market Rasen is his favourite track and he goes well fresh, so there may have been something amiss.

Claire's Nomad (Miss R Clark) and Physical Force (Miss F Hartley) race to the finish line to finish first and second respectively

Seven horses also lined up for the Mens Open. Even though he hadn’t tackled this level before, Skew Whip was made the market leader and he obliged with aplomb. There can’t have been a paddock watcher that wasn’t impressed with this fellow and he still has bags of improvement in him. The one downside was that his fencing sometimes lacked fluency, but Richard Wakeham kept the partnership intact, and in his defence the tight track won’t have been ideal. With luck, there’s no reason to suggest that Skew Whip can’t go on to bigger things. Major Shark chased hard in second, continually responding to Guy Brewer’s persuasion, and only a mistake at the last stretched the winning margin to three lengths. Major Shark lost little in defeat, conceding half a stone, and it will be something of a surprise if he doesn’t collect a similar contest. A winner of five hurdles, he was a 12,500gns buy out of Jennie Candlish’s yard at Doncaster Sales. Richard Hunnisett had a happier time than in the confined with Gola Cher bagging an adequate third. Silver Streak (Richard Armson) in fourth was unable to change gear, but didn’t give in. It was a nice pipe opener for Scenic Storm.

Major Shark (G Brewer) and Skew Whip (R Wakeham)

The Restricted didn’t have much strength in depth, but Sadler’s Lamp had by far the best form to his name of the ten declarations and was good enough to take the plaudits. This meant a double on the day for owner Kit Cottingham and jockey Nick Kent. Sadler’s Lamp was completing a hat-trick to make it three out of three between the flags, following victories in a Thorpe Lodge maiden and the Brocklesby members. He never does more than he needs to, but stays on doggedly. Supreme Vintage in second, with Simon Walker in the plate, possesses a modicum of talent, however he’s not easy to catch right. Moscow Tradition in third could only respond at the one pace for Joe Docker’s urgings and didn’t have a lot left in the tank at the end. All Right For Time (Matt Mackley) was fourth. There was a gentle introduction for Willing Whip. She’s quite small, but is one to keep an eye on with a bit of time.

Sadler's Lamp (N Kent) crosses the line first from Supreme Vintage (S Walker)

There were 11 runners for Division One of the Maiden, which went to Irish Prince in the hands of Mike Lurcock. He gave his rivals a clean pair of heels after the penultimate obstacle in gritty fashion. Runner-up Myoss, piloted by Freya Hartley, kept on strongly in the closing stages and clearly has no stamina limitations, reinforcing the view that Reg Makin’s horses deserve a second look. Ballards Boy and Matt Mackley filled third position. They went clear on the final circuit, but Ballards Boy might have been lonely out on his own and is worth another chance. Beau Jake was fourth for Sam Hutchinson. He isn’t exactly blessed with speed, although he is entitled to derive benefit from the outing. Luke Lively for the powerful Walford team is learning slowly. Ex-chaser Whitfield Warrior was under pressure before halfway, whilst Buachaill Haze was beaten and pulled up prior to a lap being completed. Something obviously wasn’t right. Archenko has had problems, isn’t straightforward, and went down to the start early. The experience won’t be lost on him though and is a type for the future.

Irish Prince (M Lurcock)

Division Two of the Maiden attracted seven participants and Rare Presence claimed the spoils with Guy Brewer giving assistance. This was a far from unlucky 13th run in point-to-points. Tried in various headgear in the past, there were no aids this afternoon. It was a well-deserved triumph for the winning rider, who finally got off the mark for the season. Hot Coals was second for Nick Kent and can progress from here. The third, Izzuthefox (Ursula Moore), a giant individual, has a little ability, though isn’t the easiest of rides. Fourth-placed Smart Thinker under Matt Mackley is just beginning to get the hang of things and will have the advantage of a stone allowance this season. The warm favourite Shannahyde was an early casualty.

Banners Flying (R Clark) and Rare Presence (G Brewer)

Division Three of the Maiden was the slowest of the three, but probably featured more horses with potential than the two previous heats. Karantaka held too many aces for his nine opponents and soundly built on his recent first visit to a racecourse at Brocklesby Park, where at the time of his final fence fall, he looked likely to be placed. Richard Tierney didn’t have to get serious and a restricted would be well within his sights. It was Richard’s third success of the campaign and his is a name that we are going to hear a lot of in the years to come. Runner-up Magicastle (Richard Armson) never threw in the towel on this highly encouraging debut. Richard Clark helped Star Prize into third and this interesting recruit deserves due consideration in the future, having been with Nicky Henderson under Rules. Protecting Heights under Guy Brewer finished fourth and can make use of his five-year-old allowance. Harwood Dale had a squeak when he decanted Mark Walford at the third last. He might have been put off by the antics of Missile, who was still traveling strongly in front when going off course at the same fence. The latter has his quirks, but ability in equal measure.

Karantaka (R Tierney) jump the last to win

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