by Ian Marshall

The meeting featured the premier Yorkshire event, the Grimthorpe Gold Cup, and racegoers certainly didn’t go home disappointed following an exciting afternoon’s entertainment. Heavy overnight rain had left extremely testing conditions, which were compounded by intermittent showers during racing, as well as a blustery wind. Times were unsurprisingly quite slow. 

It was a red letter day for the Yorkshire contingent with trainer David Pipe and jockey Ashley Farrant, who currently leads the National Championship, making the long trip north from Somerset. However, they were to go away empty handed. Maybe the ground is not usually as soft in the southwest or possibly the opposition was of such high quality at this fixture. 

The opening Hunt Members race attracted six runners and saw a maiden success in the saddle for young Oliver Greenall, who upstaged better-known brother Tom on the runner-up. Oliver brought Scottish Roots from last to first to beat the favourite High Fields by the tune of eight lengths. Scottish Roots had won the restricted on the same card twelve months earlier, but had been slightly below par in hunter chases this season. High Fields put in some sketchy leaps and was being niggled at by Tom Greenall with a full circuit to race. Howya Matey was a tired third, with Ben Woodhouse having the leg up on the Pipe runner. They had disputed the lead for much of the way and Folliday was also handy when coming down at the 10th. Flat Top (Jacqueline Coward) had just moved into a threatening position when he ran out at the 12th, but retraced to finish fourth. Multi Franchise was understandably in need of the outing after a long time off the track.

There were unusually no penalties for the Confined, which meant an exceptionally strong field turned out that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an open. Strangely easy to back, the Catterick hunter chase winner Golden Chimes showed his class under Grant Tuer to score comfortably. Patiently ridden, Golden Chimes readily asserted down the side of the course and forged clear. He will be hard to oppose in the future. Canterbury Jack and Ashley Farrant took second, but were swept aside when push came to shove. Chaos Theory caught the eye in such heady company, only finishing a total of twelve lengths behind the winner in third. This was a big step up on recent efforts and he should soon have a race in him on this evidence. These were the only ones to complete. The Graduate set a searching early gallop, which was too fast on the prevailing ground. He might show more if settling better. Mr McDuck was a touch disappointing as he looked fit enough following his reappearance at Charm Park. The previously unbeaten Ten Bob looked dangerous with five to jump, but his run petered out quickly. There was plenty of cut in the ground when Ten Bob landed his restricted at Brocklesby Park, but the sloppy conditions here didn’t suit him. Joss Saville’s star is not to be written off.

In the Restricted, Dolphin Square (Niall Saville) and Euwiluwil (Ashley Farrant) arrived at the penultimate obstacle with little to choose between the two. Niall asked his mount for a long one and got a majestic leap, whereas Euwiluwil blundered away his chance. Dolphin Square assumed control to take the spoils. William Bethell’s fine stamp of a horse had been brought along quietly on his first couple of runs this season after an absence, before landing a gamble in the hunt members at Dalton Park. The eleven-year-old is making up for lost time and shouldn’t be discounted if a confined is on the agenda. Hellodock stayed on from the back under Ben Woodhouse to pip Euwiluwil for second on the run-in. Hellodock can be placed to good effect by the Wilson stable if none the worse for his exploits after a layoff. Buckfastleigh maiden winner Euwiluwil looked the part in the paddock and can be found an easier opportunity. Lights On and Lord Manton were prominent before fading into fourth. Don Rio was up with the pace until departing at the 12th. Severnsider was a warm order in the ring, but found little in the latter stages. A sounder surface might help.

The 4m1f Grimthorpe Gold Cup was claimed for the second year in a row by Grant Tuer, who made it a double on the day. Following Son Of Anshan in 2003, Sad Mad Bad was the victor in 2004. The ex-Mary Reveley trained gelding took up the running from Mighty Willing turning for home and drew right away. Sad Mad Bad was given a very confident ride and showed a good attitude to hold on. Dorans Magic gave his normal honest performance in second under Annabelle Armitage and is a force to be reckoned with in these long distance events. Clonshire Paddy and Tom Greenall filled third spot. Formerly with Chris Grant under Rules, Clonshire Paddy made a considerable improvement on his other point outings, including a win in a Charm Park restricted. Mr Pendleberry and Nicky Tinkler took fourth and have proved a solid combination all season. A sensible, steady pace was set by Notation, meaning ten or a dozen horses still had some sort of chance leaving the back straight. Mighty Willing was sent to the head of affairs three out, but emptied in the home straight. Not for the first time, this handsome gelding gave the impression that he might need producing at the last possible moment to show his best.

The first division of the 2m4f maiden saw Devils Perk (Trevor Glass) justify short price favouritism. Never looking likely to be beaten, Devils’ Perk made up for running out at the last at Duncombe Park when leading in February. There were ten lengths to the promising Search Party in second under Simon Walker and the five-year-old ought to have a race in him. The same can be said for Civil Gent (Guy Brewer) in third. Just A Lady and Ben Woodhouse were fourth. Black Leopard and Moraira were both pulled up on their debuts here. Black Leopard will no doubt come on for the run, while Moraira made mistakes, but will know more next time and, if jumping soundly, could pick up a similar event.

The second division of the 2m4f maiden went to Philip Cornforth on Karinga Leap. The partnership stayed on too strongly for their rivals in the last half a mile. Magic Route and Tina Jackson were a game second and this former hurdler appears to have some potential in points, although he did get a bit fractious in the parade ring. Shirostran (Phillip Kinsella), the favourite, was back in third and is quite headstrong. Oaklands Ted was fourth under Trevor Glass. Billymax led for much of the journey before dropping out and has been flattering to deceive. Quel Regal was in touch when giving Rachel Clark a heavy fall at the 9th.

The second leg of a double for Trevor Glass came aboard Oaklands Luis in the first division of the 3m maiden. It could all have been different though had Maria Myco’s Forty Shakes (Lee Bates) not given the final fence a hefty clout when two lengths up, which knocked the stuffing out of him. It allowed Oaklands Luis to renew his challenge and, under a vintage power-packed drive from Trevor Glass, he defied Forty Shakes on the run-in. The pair had the race to themselves from the third last. Oaklands Luis’s two previous maidens, where he took third both times, had been won by Ten Bob and Three Spires at Witton Castle and Duncombe Park respectively. Enough said. There’s more to come from Forty Shakes. Only these two out of the nine starters finished. Ravenscar is better than this and Queenies Girl made a pleasing debut. The latter’s dam, River Boat Queen, was a smart pointer and hunter chaser. Prioritisation, an expensive purchase, represented the Pipe/Farrant team and was a red hot “jolly”, but was the first of the leading half a dozen off the bridle and was beaten a long way out.

The concluding second division of the maiden over the regulation trip was won in decisive fashion by Sams Way and Phillip Kinsella. Having tipped up at the second last at Charm Park in March when clear, it was just reward for Sams Way. It was also a welcome change of luck for his rider, who has endured a run of unfortunate mishaps, as well as a seemingly endless supply of placings. The runner-up Rising Talisker (Richard Clark) is inconsistent, but could find a small race. Duchess Account under Richard Wakeham indicated that she has some talent by taking third on her first view of a racecourse. The one-paced Bankersdraft (Michael Morley) was fourth. Cloigeann Rua went off at a fair rate of knots, but was legless after a lap. Thixendale paid for heading the chasers on the first circuit, while French Venture was an early casualty.