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Saturday 14th May 2005
by Ian Marshall
photos by Arthur Thompson

Free admission attracted many watchers to Howe Hills, although they found runners somewhat thinner on the ground than usual. The ground was officially Good To Firm, Good In Places and to my eye this seemed a fair description. However, several owners and trainers perhaps wisely chose not to risk their charges, with one box containing a handful of potential runners leaving having run none of them. The curtain came down on the Yorkshire programme, the highlight being jockey Tina Jackson pulling off a double after a strong second half to her campaign. The 2005 gentleman riders’ title went to Ben Woodhouse and the ladies’ version was won by Serena Brotherton.

Five horses took part in the Hunt Members and Sir Alf claimed the spoils, following up his success in the same race a year ago. Chris Dawson produced the Maria Myco-trained gelding leaving the back straight and he held too many guns for Diamond Monroe and Oliver Greenall. Sir Alf has a Catterick hunter chase in March to his name and the runner-up that day Imps Way has since won the “Heart” at Hexham, so the form is solid. Diamond Monroe was tried in blinkers, but still couldn’t quite get off the mark in points. He’s been knocking on the door all season. Joe Di Capo (Simon Robinson) in third hasn’t shown much between the flags. What A Cheek (Trevor Glass) in a distant fourth was visiting a racecourse for the first time in six years and set a steady pace before fading with four to jump. Sweeping Storm was in touch when he ran out five from home.

From 26 entries, just three turned out for the Confined, which saw the odds-on favourite Strongtrooper and Jacqueline Coward finish alone. The complexion of the race changed completely negotiating the bend at the top of the hill after the third last. Forty Shakes had gained a slight advantage when he came down on the turn, bringing down Quango, who had just been headed for the first time. This left Strongtrooper to come home in splendid isolation. Strongtrooper was being niggled at beginning the descent, but all three had every chance at that moment. Forty Shakes might have been cutting the corner a bit fine, but he did also return with only three shoes, which could easily have been a contributing factor. Apart from a bloody nose for Forty Shakes, both horses seemed to be pretty much none the worse. Jo Foster walked away unscathed, but Chris Dawson was taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder. It really shows how fickle racing can be and the ups and downs couldn’t be better amplified.

Strongtrooper (Jacqueline Coward)

A field of five came under starter’s orders in the Mens Open, with Journey coming out on top for Nigel Smith. The partnership had only been caught by Civil Gent in the dying strides on the uphill run-in at Easingwold last week. There was no such drama this afternoon as Journey lasted out strongly in the downhill home straight. He wasn’t made quite so much use of as often is the case and readily returned to winning ways. Queenies Girl, encountering an open for the first time, was guided into second ten lengths down by Paul Frank. She has been mightily consistent in 2005, not being out of the first four in her last half a dozen starts, including winning a Hutton Rudby maiden and an Easingwold restricted. If Queenies Girl can carry on where she left off next season, she might be able to emulate the record of her dam Riverboat Queen, who was successful on five occasions. Buddy Girie and Philip Cornforth came third, getting tapped for toe when the pace increased. A small field like this might not suit Buddy Girie all that well. Ben From Ketton and Simon Robinson were fourth.

Journey (Nigel Smith)

The Ladies Open was contested by six horses and the revitalised Wynyard Dancer grabbed the glory under Tina Jackson. It would be a worthy candidate for ride of the season. With a circuit to go, Wynyard Dancer was six lengths behind the main body of the field and ridden along. However, Tina was not to be denied and the duo were again edging into the argument nearing the end of the back straight. Wynyard Dancer then stuck her neck out and stayed on resolutely in the closing stages to defy Heather Lad and Annabelle Armitage. In her last three outings, Wynyard Dancer has managed to cut out the costly jumping errors that have dogged her appearances in recent times. Prior to this, connections were considering retirement, but victories here and at Easingwold in April mean that has been put on hold for the moment. Heather Lad got within a length at the death and couldn’t quite follow up his win at Easingwold last week. Fast ground is a necessity, but he has also shown dramatic improvement since switching to ladies events for today’s rider. Ledgendry Line and Serena Brotherton were popular in the market, but only came third, a further three-quarters of a length back. Ledgendry Line failed to pick up like he normally does, having looked a big danger at the top of the hill. Miorbhail (Tessa Gray) set his usual strong pace before weakening into fourth.

The Restricted was incident-packed and the five runners were soon decimated at the 2nd fence, where Bankersdraft gave Michael Morley no chance of staying in the plate and the warm jolly Noggler got rid of Serena Brotherton. Serena was knocked out by the impact, but appeared to be all right in herself a few minutes later. The front-running Hattie was carried very wide by the loose horses and nearly on to John Wade’s all-weather gallop on the bend before the 9th. She came down on the level in trying to get back to the correct line. This left the race at the mercy of Carew and Lee Bates, who scored by a distance from Up The Kyber and Ben Woodhouse. It was a fitting triumph for Carew as he took his maiden at Witton Castle on the first day of the Yorkshire season. Since then, he has been quite promising without really threatening to get his head in front. Carew was carrying the familiar colours of local owner John Mackley and is a full brother to the winner of the previous race Wynyard Dancer. Up The Kyber hasn’t been easy to train and was making his debut between the flags. He has bits and pieces of form under Rules.

Carew (Lee Bates)

The finale featured ten steeds in the Maiden and an absolutely thrilling blanket finish to close proceedings. There were plenty with chances at the final fence and it was Oaklands Ted that gained the upper hand when it mattered with Tina Jackson aboard for trainer Graham Russ. Regular rider Trevor Glass favoured the stable’s other runner Kings Bloom, who was pulled up having never been in a challenging position. Yet again Tina made best use of a rare spare ride on a horse that hasn’t always appeared to give everything in the past. There was no disputing his effort this time though. Michael Morley steered Brown’s Beck into the runner-up berth. He is a likeable sort and, although not having an abundance of stamina, has enough ability to land a maiden. Rosdari (Jo Foster) filled third spot and showed the most he has done since coming to the UK. Others to note were Radical Jack, performing very nicely in his first point-to-point after an unsuccessful period under Rules, Iron Trooper, who warrants respect being owned by John Wade even though he has had several decent opportunities, and Shamore, completing the course for the first time after disputing the running until the flat. Shamore especially could be one to look out for in 2006.

L to R - Coverdale and Iron Trooper

Iron Trooper, Oaklands Ted (winner), Radical Jack and Brown's Beck

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