A good crowd was at Market Rasen, but the quantity of runners was kept down by the testing conditions, which in truth weren’t all that bad.
There were four runners for the Lincolnshire United Hunts Club Members and a short-priced favourite in Silver Streak, who was streets ahead of his three rivals in terms of ratings. Oliver Williams soon built up a sizeable advantage on the grey and he only had to be pushed out to triumph by 20 lengths. Dentali was second in the hands of Simon Walker. He wasn’t completely useless in Ireland, but is beginning to look quite exposed. Twin Royal (Matt Mackley) was back in third and made a satisfactory debut. Man Of Spirit and Mark Bennison were fourth.
Eight horses came under orders for the Confined, which produced the fastest time of the day. Rainbow Tree strode clear on the run to the final fence and was an impressive winner. Miles Seston did the steering on Chris Bealby’s gelding. A Market Rasen bumper winner in 2004, Rainbow Tree had some respectable form at a low level in novice handicap hurdles under Rules and is still young enough at seven to have more to offer. Narciso was second for Jacqueline Coward, although he didn’t get overly high at a few fences. Dickie Barrett guided Kjetil into third. Kjetil kept on pretty well, but he does leave the impression that he isn’t always putting everything into it. Only three finished. Hunca Munca led for much of the way on her return from injury and understandably blew up entering the back straight for the final time. She’ll no doubt be better off for the race. Nick The Silver gave some sort of hope for the future.
The Ladies Open was a match between Fiori and Jacqueline Coward and Snizort and Freya Hartley, with the former coming out on top by six lengths. Fiori was fully entitled to be the victor on the best of his form under Rules. Allowed to lead, Fiori had his ears pricked throughout, jumped from fence to fence and wasn’t extended to score. Aintree in April is a possible target for this fellow. Snizort was desperately in need of the outing and may need another race to be entirely tuned up.
Just four horses turned out for the Mens Open and only two of those could be given a serious chance. Nautical Lad was again in the mood and found plenty off the bridle when shaken up by Joe Docker to carry off the prize. Nautical Lad has been on his best behaviour this term, previously winning at Thorpe Lodge before being fifth in a hot race at Brocklesby Park. Runner-up was Jackson, with Jack Newitt on top, who was eased when beaten. Now fit, he’s going to be a fair performer at this level. Was A Drive and Paul Hodgson completed in third. Beijing Breeze, a maiden making his third racecourse appearance, needed to be kept up to his work, but did keep in touch with the leaders until five out.
A field of 11 lined up for the Restricted. The honours went to Bulmer Bank and Nick Docker, who were in command from the third last. Bulmer Bank took his maiden here in 2004, however he has had some problems since. He came under John Docker’s control in the close season and his reappearance fourth at Thorpe Lodge suggested that there was more to come. Kindle A Flame got out-paced before keeping on again and could give Harriet Bethell a small novice riders’ contest. Third-placed The Camerengo probably had the strongest credentials and he should find a restricted for Andrew Corbett. Ballyclement (Oliver Williams) in fourth needs a sharp track like this. The five-year-old Keen Whip is a nice sort and shaped encouragingly on his debut, which bodes very well for the future. Toms Party will come on for the race, but Myoss hardly went a yard.
Division One of the Maiden attracted eight hopefuls. It produced a quite remarkable performance from Humbel Origins. Running to the penultimate obstacle, he was in fifth and apparently struggling to keep up, but as soon as Mark Walford asked him to go about his business, the response was both immediate and scintillating. An amazing turn of foot saw Humbel Origins pass Panama Three Knots, who didn’t appear to be stopping, at the last and win well. Humbel Origins wore an eyeshield at Alnwick when gaining an education at Alnwick in January and wouldn’t be straightforward by any means, but he really could be anything. Humbel Origins was a 4000 guineas purchase at Doncaster Sales in August 2005. The runner-up Panama Three Knots cut out the running with Miles Seston in the plate and lost little in defeat. She was still a length or two up at Duncombe Park last week when she came down at the final fence so has already done more than enough to have a maiden in her sights. Third was Jubilee George (Richard Armson), who needs an easy course such as this as three miles stretches him. In fourth, Artic Omen got round under Guy Brewer, having fallen on his two previous starts, and can build on this. Shampers looked a likely type in the paddock and will have derived plenty of benefit from the experience.
Division Two of the Maiden drew together 11 horses and a perfectly judged ride from Mark Walford saw Gone Tomorrow lead at the last and draw away from Joey The Schnoze and Matt Mackley on the run-in, with the pair a distance clear. The Walford team think a fair bit about Gone Tomorrow and he won’t be over-phased, but should make his presence felt if taking in a restricted. Gone Tomorrow fetched 8000 guineas at Doncaster Sales in May 2006. For a horse that was no great shakes over hurdles when last seen as long ago as 2002 or in a couple of runs on the flat two years later, Joey The Schnoze ran an absolute cracker. It was reported that he had a breathing problem, but if he can make it to the racecourse again, a repeat would see him land a maiden. Broadband exhibited a modicum of ability under Nick Kent in third, while Fair Promise ran to standard for Richard Armson in fourth. Cottam Phantom didn’t get competitive, but shouldn’t be written off just yet, while Sea Haven had a gentle introduction to pointing. With Richard Wakeham injured in an earlier race Emma Brader took over on the favourite Rising Whip, however the mare failed to pick up the bit at any stage. After her good second to Royal Return at Brocklesby Park earlier in the month, this run is best forgotten and she might be worth another chance in a maiden against her own sex. This was easily the quickest of the three maidens.
There were 12 runners for Division Three of the Maiden and Spellar Park was a worthy favourite on the back of his two previous efforts, which were a close second to the smart Beau De Turgeon at Alnwick and a fall at the last when 20 lengths clear at Brocklesby Park. There were few concerns for backers as Spellar Park didn’t disappoint to give jockey Mark Walford and his trainer mother Gill a stunning treble on the day. Spellar Park has much potential and a bright future ahead of him. He will take all the beating in a restricted. Second was Furze Hill, with Alex Merriam on board, who continues to progress and is going the right way. Dix Huit Cyborg in third had Nick Kent for company and is getting the hang of things. The big chestnut hasn’t completely grown into himself yet and is no lost cause. In fourth, Johnny Venture (Simon Walker) isn’t blessed with an awful lot of speed, but equally it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he sneaked a little race. Bourneagainkristen was far from fluent at her fences and appeared to run in snatches, but she did give some hope for the rest of the season. Fromragstoriches was never sighted and it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions from this display. That said, it would be unwise to dismiss her out of hand.