APRIL 2004
by Ian Marshall
photos by Grace Beresford

A bumper nine-race programme, with both maidens split on the day, attracted a fine turnout of 97 horses. An unusual occurrence saw God Of War appear in the final race, having already been an early casualty in the younger horse maiden. A long day began at 2pm and racing was not concluded until around 6.50pm. There were certainly no complaints about value for money! A fine, warm day brought out the crowds, even with the National Hunt meeting taking place not too far away at Wetherby, and racegoers were treated to some exceptional riding performances on what was described as “the best ground here for years”.

The Hunt Members race started proceedings and Rachel Clark was once again at her strongest to bring Claire’s Nomad with a storming late surge up the hill to collar Eastern Royal and Matthew Briggs. Claire’s Nomad is a much-improved performer and it was his fourth victory in his last seven races, including at the same course last season. Eastern Royal only went down by a head and was showing his best form since his Market Rasen maiden triumph in February. The twelve-year-old maiden Dinan (Joanne Brown) ran probably his best race in third. Hattie pulled hard as ever in front with Philip Cornforth before fading into fourth. Even with a Corbridge maiden under her belt, she needs to settle to progress further. Glacial Dancer couldn’t quicken at the business end, while Snizort was a shade disappointing.

The first division of the younger horse maiden was the quicker of the two by some 12 seconds and went to Flat Stanley. Jo Foster brought the five-year-old to challenge at the last and they stayed on too stoutly for their rivals. This progressive sort can follow up. Irish Paddy, with Richard Clark on board, took second and is susceptible to a finisher. Third-placed Magic Route and Tina Jackson may have been unlucky as they ran wide at the bend into the home straight. Magic Route must surely have at least a maiden in him. Bobby Buttons (Nigel Tutty) in fourth has had numerous chances. Tartan Rising made much of the running, but dropped out rapidly. No Info appeared to lose her action and was pulled up by Ben Woodhouse as soon as she began to tire.

Duchess Account and Richard Wakeham landed the second division. The mare had obviously learnt a lot from her promising debut at Whitwell-on-the-Hill. Her half-brother Ruff Account was a dual Yorkshire points winner in 1996. Runner-up Shirostran was anchored towards the rear by Philip Kinsella to get the trip and failed by just a length, after not fighting his rider anything like as much as he has in the past. It was a close run thing and these two were clear of Callitwatulike (Trevor Glass), who has put in some fair efforts in 2004, and Parsifal (Rupert Abrahams). The latter didn’t take quite as fierce a hold as he has earlier in the year. Deep Design and Madaar disputed the lead until running out of puff, while Emperor’s Castle, a very difficult ride, gave some hope for the future, but was only on slightly better behaviour than at Charm Park.

Hadeqa seems a new horse with Serena Brotherton on his back and the duo went one better than on their first outing together at Hornby Castle on Easter Saturday. That fine effort at 50-1 alerted the bookies who laid him today at a tenth of those odds. Hot favourite Texas Ranger, bidding to make it four wins on the bounce, set his usual fast pace, but was picked off by Hadeqa at the penultimate obstacle. Hadeqa then strode clear to score in impressive fashion. Texas Ranger came to grief at the last, but would more than likely have finished out of the first three anyway. Thankfully, both the horse and jockey Jo Foster appeared relatively unscathed. Sally Scally (Tina Jackson) in second would have been closer than ten lengths behind Hadeqa if she had been more fluent at the second last. The mare looked more like her old self and can find a similar event before the end of the season. Perchancer under Annabelle Armitage flew home to be close behind Sally Scally in third. Perchancer is a useful recruit to pointing that had suffered tack problems on his point debut at Charm Park. On The Mend and Freya Hartley were fourth and may have a small race in them.

The Ladies Open - Texas Ranger (Jo Foster) leads

The Ladies Open - L to R, Perchancer (Annabelle Armitage), Yorkshire Edition (Wendy Gibson) and Miorbhail (Tessa Gray)

The Ladies Open - Hadeqa (Serena Brotherton)

In the Mens Open, Extra Jack and Charlie Shirley-Beavan attempted to make all, but were reeled in by Nordic Crest and Mark Walford, who claimed the prize by a length and a half. Produced late as ever, Nordic Crest showed his well being by gaining a well-deserved victory. Extra Jack lost nothing in defeat and nearly made the trip south a winning one. Ababou and Steve Charlton gave a good account of themselves in third and are a very capable partnership. Fourth was Mr McDuck (Lee Bates), putting in his most pleasing display of 2004. Nip On was never traveling with any zest and gave Guy Brewer a heavy fall early on the final circuit.

The well-contested Restricted went to Nought To Ninety. It was a masterful ride from Lee Bates, bringing the gelding from last of the field of 13 on the first lap to first on the run-in. Coming from the clouds at the death, it was a carbon copy of their effort in taking a Charm Park maiden on Easter Monday. It had seemed as though the game runner-up Civil Gent had poached a vital couple of lengths heading out into the country for the final time, but Guy Brewer couldn’t quite repel the winner’s thrust. Civil Gent has yet to run a bad race in four points and, like Nought To Ninety, is a young horse with a big future. Favourite Sevensider (Richard Wakeham) was third and Hessac (John Davies) fourth. Both are likely to manage a restricted somewhere. Redsands went off like a hare and was a struggling a long way out, while Whitwell-on-the-Hill maiden winner Sams Way never got competitive. Office Hours will undoubtedly come on a lot for this seasonal reappearance after showing up well for most of the journey.

Journey took up his customary position at the head of affairs under Nigel Tutty and never saw a rival in the Confined recording a fast time. A long way ahead throughout, the chestnut was heavily eased after the last and punters were given an almighty scare when Glendamah and Michael Morley closed to just a neck at the lollipop. Another stride or two and Nigel would have been left with a very red face. This confirmed Journey to still be on the upgrade even at the age of 11, as he gained his restricted victory a month ago at Hutton Rudby. Glendamah enjoyed the step back from opens and remains interesting. Imperial Line stayed on a bit to be third with Tina Jackson and had been highly tried on his two previous starts this season, including at Aintree. Royal Crimson and Rupert Alers-Hankey gave their normal credible performance in fourth. There was quite a nasty incident passing the departure point first time around when Glensan slipped up, bringing down Welsh March. Hopefully, there was no lasting damage caused. Favourite Chaos Theory unseated David Thomas at the 3rd.

The first division of the open maiden went to Scenic Storm and Philip Kinsella by a length from Gollinger and Ben Woodhouse. Scenic Storm had hinted at ability on his first point at Hornby Castle and won nicely. He certainly hasn’t lacked for fitness, having been kept busy in the hunting field. Long-time leader Gollinger rallied once headed and put in his best effort in points. Seasmith and Charlie Shirley-Beavan were handy for the most part and were only run out of it into third over the last two fences. Gipsy Wood (Trevor Glass) gave a bit more encouragement in fourth, without being knocked about unduly.

The second division seemed the stronger on paper, although the times were similar. Stormy Sunrise and Annabelle Armitage have been knocking on the door and duly obliged. Stormy Sunrise swept past Hidden Pearl (John Davies), who eventually came third, at the final fence and went right away on the run-in. The winner’s Charm Park conqueror Mister Bromley has since landed a Corbridge restricted. Black Rainbow filled second spot in his first point and is one to watch in the future. Rider Tina Jackson was placed for the fourth occasion during the afternoon. Hidden Pearl is hard to evaluate, as he doesn’t run the same race twice. The Sea Club (Laura Robson) was fourth and gets outpaced before running on again. Bankersdraft tries his best, but is one-paced. Mon Performer would have taken a big hand in the finish if he hadn’t crumpled on landing over the last. The horse somehow found a leg and Nicky Tinkler performed a miracle to stay in the saddle, but all chance had gone. The jockey’s quick dash from Wetherby so nearly paid off and compensation awaits.