MAY 2004
by Ian Marshall
photos by Jonathan Hood

A stiff breeze may have contributed to keeping the crowd down and runners were also thin on the ground. However, the ding-dong battle between Guy Brewer and Nigel Tutty for the Yorkshire Gentleman Riders Championship looks like going down to the wire with just the events at Mordon and Heslaker remaining, as both parties scored points today. 

The opening younger horse maiden went to Silogue and Nigel Tutty by a country mile. It would have been closer though, as the eventual winner and Irish Paddy took off at five from home together, but at this point runners go out of sight until they are back in view jumping four out. When they reappeared, Silogue was all alone and Irish Paddy had parted company with Richard Clark. Irish Paddy appeared to have a bad injury and left the scene in a horse ambulance. Silogue completed unchallenged to score. A former hurdler, he had put in a decent effort on his point debut to be fourth to Civil Gent at Charm Park on Easter Monday, a performance that looked even better later in the afternoon. Thixendale under Jo Foster was the runner-up, with God Of War (Steve Charlton) third and Littleton Zeus (Paul Collins) fourth. Three Way Split had been left in a clear second by the departure of Irish Paddy, but was pulled up apparently lame after the third last.

The 13-year-old Miorbhail with Tessa Gray on top gained the second success of his career in the Confined, six years after landing his maiden. He had been getting outpaced in the latter stages of races in recent times, but stuck on well on the run-in to defy Darak and Nigel Tutty by three lengths. Darak was also entered for the mens open, but took on what was thought to be the easier option instead, however he couldn’t quite pull it off. Third-placed Glacial Dancer (Richard Clark) was third and is bit frustrating, while Ballad Minstrel and Jo Foster were fourth. The grey was found to be unsound afterwards.

Confined - Darak (Nigel Tutty) and Miorbhail (Tessa Gray)

Only three turned out for the Mens Open and Nordic Crest and Mark Walford made it their second victory here in a fortnight, this time at prohibitive odds. The partnership have been a strong duo on their three opens this year. Donnegale with Nigel Smith aboard showed more than he has for some time in second and might be happier in mens races than his usual ladies contests with Jo Foster. Fine Times and Oliver Williams trailed in third, but weren’t shrugged off until after the third last.

Mens Open - Nordic Crest (Mark Walford) jumps the last to win

A bold display of jumping from On The Mend, coupled with a fine ride from Freya Hartley, was enough to take the Ladies Open. The distance he stood off the ditch on the second circuit had to be seen to be believed! Trained by Susan Balshaw, On The Mend has seemed to enjoy the switch to ladies races, following two fair fourth placings. Having made the running, On The Mend was joined by runner-up Ridgeway and Jo Foster at the fifth from the finish, but regained the advantage at the fourth last and never relinquished it from thereon in. Ridgeway was at an even skinnier price than Nordic Crest, but for some reason you always felt throughout the race that On The Mend was going to prevail. The maiden Quel Regal (Rachel Clark) was third of three. Although out of his depth here, Quel Regal seems to have lost his way since falling on his point debut at Market Rasen when giving the useful Glensan a race early in the season.

Ladies Open - On The Mend (Freya Hartley) jumps the last ahead of Ridgeway (Jo Foster)

Guy Brewer’s sole ride of the day was a winning one on Civil Gent in the Restricted and got him back in front of Nigel Tutty for the Yorkshire Mens Title. Having been held up for a circuit, Civil Gent went on with six to jump and forged clear on the run-in. Compared with his hurdling days, the five-year-old chestnut has really grown into himself and has yet to be out of the first three in his five points, including a victory in a Charm Park maiden that is working out well with both Ravenscar and now Silogue getting their heads in front since. Runner-up Parsifal with Rupert Abrahams in the saddle was making a quick reappearance after triumphing in a Witton Castle maiden on May Day Bank Holiday Monday. He does pull very hard, but is a horse with a big future. Third went to Flat Stanley (Jo Foster), who is progressing nicely, and won his maiden here in good style at the previous meeting. Troubleshooter and Oliver Williams were fourth and couldn’t renew their effort in the last half-mile. Office Hours was disappointing following a promising seasonal debut here a fortnight ago.

PPORA Restricted - Civil Gent (Guy Brewer) jumps the last ahead of Parsifal (Rupert Abrahams)

The closing maiden went the way of The Sea Club and Lauren Robson by 20 lengths from Man At The Top and Mark Bennison. After setting the pace, The Sea Club was headed by Gardor before getting back in front and drawing away. It was a well-deserved win. Man At The Top has put in some good displays and is certainly capable of landing a maiden. Gardor got round in third for Nigel Smith and might not have truly stayed. Highland Wonder (Lynne Ward) was far from disgraced in fourth. Hendrix would most likely have filled that position, but for getting rid of Niall Saville at the third last.

Open Maiden - The Sea Club (Lauren Robson) jumps the last to win

Finally, mention must be made of the bend before the last two fences. One observer has described the track as having nine obstacles for 2004, the eight fences and this turn. Today, two horses dislodged their riders in separate incidents at it and at the April fixture two came down in one race. The fact that taking the corner correctly plays such a major part in the outcome of races is not a plus point either. The smaller fields can be put partly down to this bend also. It is hoped that the problems can be ironed out for 2005, as it is more by luck than judgement that a horse or rider has not been hurt this season.