Yorkshire Area P2P
Point-to-point racing took place in Yorkshire in January for the first time and the Yorkshire Point-to-Point Area Club fixture at the new venue of Sheriff Hutton proved to be a roaring success. Clerk of the course Nicky Tinkler and his team deserve immense credit for having the track in such good shape considering the amount of rain that has fallen recently. The fences were inviting, well spaced out and no horses actually fell. Although conditions were testing and the distance of around three and a quarter miles took some getting, horses seemed to go through it well. Meetings around the country have suffered from lower than expected attendances this season, but there were no problems on that score here. In fact, faces associated with racing from right across Britain were noticed in the crowd and they can only have gone away impressed.
The Ten-Year-Olds and Over Club Members Conditions Race drew in 15 hopefuls and four pilots had their first mount, Emma Dwyer, Emma Williamson, Claire Kirkby and Laura Mason. An excellent ride from Oliver Greenall gained the day for Well Presented. Never out of the leading half dozen, Well Presented was produced down the outside in the home straight (like Whistling Straits and Ask Bobby later in the afternoon looking for better ground) to win a shade cosily. This was significantly better than his other efforts in this country. Runner-up Widemouth Bay (Joanne Brown) more than held his own and did much of the donkey work up front. Formerly with Henrietta Knight and Philip Hobbs under Rules, Widemouth Bay was third in the Cheltenham Festival Bumper at the age of five. His turn will surely come. In third, Be Upstanding and Miles Seston never quite reached the leaders, but the 13-year-old acquitted himself admirably. Royal Corrouge in fourth is bound to improve for the outing after more than two years off and his jockey will also be back in the groove following the break. Creative Time was running respectably when unseating his rider at the penultimate obstacle. Big Fellow got tired quickly and Celioso held a prominent position until lack of a recent run took its toll. Ikdam Melody was well beaten after a circuit, but ought not to be over the hill just yet. The saddle slipped on Wilful Lord.
There were 13 runners for the Restricted, which in truth wasn’t as competitive as the numbers might suggest, especially at this stage of the season. Royal Return could be called the winner a long way from home and she only had to be pushed out by Oliver Greenall to collect. Travelling supremely well from flagfall, the grey cruised upsides the leader at the top of the home run and barely had to come off the bridle. Royal Return has bags of ability and is one to keep the right side of in the future. There was a fine effort from the runner-up Whinny Bank under Jo Mason. The mare stayed on relentlessly in the final mile and must go one better soon when the emphasis is on stamina. Cold Play (Miles Seston) in third cut out the running and kept on valiantly. He isn’t the most fluent of jumpers by any means, but attains a decent standard when putting everything in. Thatlldoya in fourth really needs extreme distances to be at his best and this was a fair prep run. Kindle A Flame uncharacteristically ran out through the wing at the third, while Shapani will have more to offer next time. Susie Go Easy, a decidedly indifferent jumper in Ireland, was held up well in arrears, but did fence much better, and this will have done her the power of good.
Nine horses went to post for the Mens Open and Whistling Straits gave Richard Burton his 300th victory between the flags. The youngest horse in the race, Whistling Straits just keeps on improving and further success is likely to come his way. He was a close second at Cottenham in December so may have had a fitness advantage over his rivals today. For Richard Burton to come to Yorkshire for one ride, and on a Caroline Robinson-trained horse, must have been a tip in itself. Glenelly Gale (Toby Greenall) kept on well for second having been in contention throughout, but he isn’t getting any younger. Devil’s Run came third for Chris Dawson. Gradually brought into the race, Devil’s Run couldn’t quite keep up his effort in the home straight and stayed on at one pace. There’ll be better to come. Castleford in fourth wasn’t beaten far and might be back to somewhere near his old form. The useful Eskimo Jack went off favourite and should come on for the run, while the outing is also sure to have been of benefit to Novel Idea.
The Members Conditions race for horses that hadn’t won under Rules other than hunter chases attracted a select field of seven and wouldn’t have looked out of place as an open. Ask Bobby showed a steely determination get the better of that great battler Duchess Account and the up and coming Beau De Turgeon. Ask Bobby, with Guy Brewer in the plate, handles cut in the ground well. Ask Bobby was reported to have “blown up” by his rider at the third from the finish, but found extra running to the last. That he was able to pull it out of the fire says a lot about his ability. He is likely to mix opens and hunter chases from now on and the novice hunter chase at Catterick where he came to grief in 2007 when favourite could be on the agenda again. Duchess Account, ridden by Emma Brader, cut every corner and was up with the pace compared with what is often the case. She didn’t throw in the towel and made the victor pull out all the stops. Duchess Account will be expected to add to her tally of 11 points in the coming months. Beau De Turgeon was a close third for Oliver Greenall and will pay his way as he is clearly heading in the right direction. This was his first defeat between the flags at the third attempt. Fourth-placed Pristine Condition ran a blinder on his first visit to a racecourse against such competition. Tom Greenall had Pristine Condition anchored in rear and steadily made progress on the final lap. He naturally wasn’t given a hard time in the last half mile and certainly seemed to know his job. He’ll be a short price to land a maiden. Letusbefraink took a hefty tug and had done his running five out.
With just three horses lining up for the Ladies Open, many prospective runners might have been frightened off by the presence of the unbeaten One Five Eight. However, as it happened, the long odds-on shot was turned over by Tynedale and Val Jackson. Whether Tynedale was given a breather leaving the back straight or simply didn’t give up, he battled back and was always holding on over the last couple of fences. To lower the colours of the favourite after that one had won all six of his points was no mean achievement. One Five Eight doesn’t always look comfortable in his races and here was no exception, but there appeared no real cause for alarm until Jacqueline Coward got serious turning for judge. He could never get on terms from then on. Only two finished. Knightsbridge King was bang there three from home, but got tired following eighteen months off and was pulled up before the final fence.
The Maiden was split on the day and Division One was assigned 11 horses. On paper, it looked the stronger of the two. The honours went to Always Right and the current Yorkshire champion Chris Dawson in impressive fashion. The winner had been second in a big field at Cottenham on his debut in December and displayed the benefit of those exertions today. He can keep on improving with experience and make his presence felt in restricteds as he really couldn’t have done this much more easily. Available at fancy prices, Mister Moonax kept responding to Miles Seston’s urgings and was second. Off the bridle at halfway, the eight-year-old dug deep into his reserves and stayed on stoutly. This might be a minimum trip for him. In third, Miss Tosca (Tina Jackson) was placed for the fourth time in succession. She continues to go close and it will be a surprise if she doesn’t pick up a maiden. Lord Gee went off the jolly, but couldn’t muster a change of gear and was fourth. With Oliver Sherwood in the past and a fair novice hurdler, Lord Gee didn’t appear as straight as the other Easterby runners and will be a different proposition next time.
Division Two of the Maiden had 11 runners too and there was a David Easterby-trained one-two in quite an open affair. Network Oscar gave jockey Oliver Greenall a treble on the day in conditions that suited. He wouldn’t seem to be an obvious candidate for a restricted though. Malton in second is undoubtedly the horse to take out of the race. His jumping left a lot to be desired and he did very well to finish as close as he did. Miles Seston’s partner did OK in point-to-points three seasons ago and showed some ability in bumpers and over hurdles. The blinkered Nector De Guye came third for Mark Bennison and produced a decent display. He should find a little race. Back in fourth, this is more Impact Crusher’s level. Artic Omen gives his all, but is rather one-paced. He has a disconcertingly low head carriage and his fencing was also below normal standards. Detroit Storm was tailed off from the drop of the flag and after three runner-up performances with previous connections, must be capable of better. Spinney Well still pulled up, but got further than she had in 2006, while Tony’s Pride’s lack of a recent outing kicked in after a bit over two miles and Southern Classic looked plenty big enough in the paddock and ran accordingly. Expect more from the latter next time.