Sunday 19th February 2000
by Dom Bradshaw

Solba (Richard Burton), who deposited Andrew Dalton at the first at Wetherby last week, made up for it taking the Mens Open. However, he was made to work by the runner up Shanavogh, a 22,000gns purchase for owner\rider Richard Hunnisett, who was placed in number of chases last season when in the care of Micky Hammond. The winner will no doubt score freely throughout the season, but I won’t be jumping in to take the inevitably cramped odds on this quirky character.
The runner up jumped particularly well and looks a useful recruit to points. This run will have delighted both his owner and trainer Caroline Bailey. He should be scoring soon.
Charming Moss (Nick Kent) looked unfit in the paddock and was tailed off from the off, but did stay on to take a very distant third. He will come on for this and though appearing to be out of his depth in Opens, he could surprise in a lesser race.

The fastest time of the day was put up in the Ladies race by Donnegale (Pauline Robson), who collared runaway leader Cittadino (Jill Dawson) on the run in. The winner looks to need a real good test of stamina and should score again when conditions are in his favour.
Jill Dawson gave Cittadino a really enterprising ride and looked a little unlucky after leading for so much of the race. This was a race full of promise after losing his form badly under rules and he will be winning soon.
The favourite, Imperial Dawn (Lisa Rowe) had the winner back in third when scoring at Cottenham on the opening day, but could never strike a blow and was well beaten when running out at the third last. He appeared to be unsuited by the holding ground and this misdemeanour should be forgiven.
Sun Surfer (Carrie Ford), formerly a useful hurdler with the late Tim Forster and more recently Henry Daly, was well back in third and although well beaten, he will benefit from the run and looks to have retained enough ability to possibly score in the future.

Earlier, Give It A Whirl (Tim Lane) took the Confined, leading and staying on strongly to deny Linlathen (Nick Bell). The winner (who was apparently supposed to unsuited by the ground) runs particularly well at Brocklesby (was second to Castle Mane here in 1999) and did this nicely. Although he is game and genuine, he has been inconsistent in the past and punters should show caution before backing him at prohibitive odds.
The same applies to both runner up, Linlathen, who always seems to find one too good and third placed Inch Cross (Richard Hunnisett), who is becoming expensive to follow since his seasonal win at Market Rasen.
Yorkshire raider Triple Eaves (Clive Mulhall) was well supported but went out quickly to finish fourth. He will have to find more to score in this class.

Key Debate (Guy Brewer), a most impressive winner at the LUHC meeting at Market Rasen, was all the rage in the Restricted and set a furious gallop. However, by the end of the first circuit, the writing was on the wall when he was tackled and passed by Starlight Fool (Dickie Barrett), who went away to score as he liked. The winner looked a picture in the paddock and although he is an 11yo, he has very few miles on the clock and runs well fresh (won first time out in 1998 and was a close second first time out in 1999). He was the only one who handled the ground here and showed a good attitude; he could improve and step up.
The runner up appeared to be badly suited by the ground as was unable to jump with the fluency he had shown in his maiden win. This was confirmed by connections and it is also worth noting that he had a trickle of blood from his nose afterwards, which was most probably due to the hard race. He is highly regarded by connections and will be given a rest now. However, he should not be written off and when returning on better ground, I’m sure he’ll show his true form.
Springfield Rex (Fiona Needham) was never going and was very tired when pulling up. This run should be ignored.
Sovereigns Match, a 2m4f maiden winner in 1998, ran well for a long way until weakening and pulling up, but simply does not get the trip and will continue to struggle over three miles.

Heir Of Gold (Simon Andrews) confirmed the glimmer of form he showed in 1999 taking Division One of the Maiden narrowly from Step Lively (Stephen Swiers), who in turn came home well clear of the remainder, headed by Grangewick Flight (Kevin Needham). The winner jumped well and could be up to Restricted standard. Step Lively, like the winner, showed a little ability in 1999 and should have few problems taking her Maiden.
Grangewick Flight is lightly raced and will improve for this.
The favourite, Highbury, was well beaten in fourth. There’s little doubt that he has the ability to take a race of this kind but he’s starting to look expensive to follow after some promising runs in 1999, although like many of the other runners, it may be simply due to not liking the ground.
This was the first sign of form that fifth placed Copper Thorn has shown and he may take a small race before the end of the season.
The well-related Hydro looked to be given an easy ride by Richard Burton, coming home in sixth. He is from the Dalton yard and will come on for this gentle introduction.
Hya Prim (Matthew Mackley), who was fourth to Glevum (has since won a Restricted and Intermediate) in a Cottenham Maiden on the opening day, was never in contention and was pulled up. The form of the Cottenham race is hot, as the second and third have since scored; this run should be ignored.

Gunmetal (Steve Charlton), who was given an easy introduction in a ***** at ***** ** weeks earlier, showed a lot of zest to outstay long time leader Scraptastic (Nick Bell) to take Division Two of the Maiden. This was a good performance by the 5yo son of High Lodge and he should progress further.
Scraptastic ran well enough to suggest that he should be capable of taking a Maiden on an easier track.
Harps Hall, who had a couple of spins in Irish Point-to-Points last season, was back in third and should be capable of taking a maiden.

Steve Charlton completed a double aboard Primitive Man in Division Three of the Maiden. The winner looked the proverbial "good thing" on paper, as he had finished second in an Intermediate at Witton Castle on his previous start and didn’t let supporters down, staying on gamely to deny the Caroline Bailey trained He’s A Lad (Ben Pollock). The winner has already showed more than enough to win a Restricted.
Debutante He’s A Lad looked green in the paddock, bucking and kicking, but ran an eye-catching race and will be winning very soon, as will the third, Another Man (Richard Burton). The Andrew Dalton trained grey is a half brother to the brilliant One Man and was given a gentle introduction here. He will without doubt make his mark in points before being going under rules.
Hard luck story was Patrick Millington’s Fortune Hunter (C Weaver), who looked to still be in with a squeak when coming down at the last. This was his first sign of form, having been pulled up in his two previous starts this season and compensation awaits.
Tom’s Surprise (Nick Kent) ran well for a long way before weakening to finish fourth. Although he is moderate, connections might be able to find a small race for him.
Round the Bend, a full brother to Give It A Whirl, has now been given two nice introductory runs and should take a Maiden before the season is over.
Woodlands Star (Tim Lane) looks a real handful and was clear when refusing at the 6th. He looks to have ability and harnessing it could be difficult, but he has the right man aboard.

The opener, the Hunt race, was a two-runner affair with both horses jumping well throughout. However, it was the unregistered Splodge (M Bennison) in the colours of Lord Yarborough who eventually got the better of Rare Betty (Miss C Blakey) to score by a distance. Interestingly, the time of the race was only five seconds slower than the final Maiden, which isn’t at all bad for an unregistered hunter in a two runner crawl!