by Jon Hodd
After the freezing temperatures and snow earlier in the month, a much milder week left Brocklesby Park in perfect condition with ground described as Good To Soft, Soft In Places. The sun shined, it wasn’t cold and the car pack was packed. Point-to-point racing at its best got the season back on course in this part of the world.
Just three horses turned out for the Hunt Members, which went to Lord Adonis and Nick Kent. Lord Adonis gradually drew clear in the home straight and was 20 lengths to the good at the line over Essennbee under Mark Bennison. Lord Adonis had been a fair third at North Carlton on his pointing debut and was never far away from the pace this time. It will be interesting to see how he gets on in a restricted as there should be more to come. Essennbee has run well at this venue before and cut out the running for a circuit, but he was readily swept aside when the winner upped the tempo. Bellapais Boy was guided into third by Steve Charlton. Bellapais Boy had deposited his rider on both his previous visits to a racecourse and there were one or two sticky leaps here. However, his fencing was sound enough on the whole under a considerate ride and this will have been a big confidence booster.
The Confined attracted 16 runners and the sidelined Simon Walker missed out on a winner as Mark Walford drove Johnny Venture out to score. Keeping on in resolute fashion, Johnny Venture held too many aces for the long time leader in the closing stages. Although he has been interrupted by injury, since joining the Pimlott team he has looked a different animal. After a couple of seasons off, Johnny Venture had obviously been in need of his comeback at Sheriff Hutton. They went a good clip, which was mainly down to runner-up Gun Smith, with Nick Kent in the saddle. With no hanging around, they were soon strung out and there were no hiding places. Gun Smith had beaten a useful yardstick on his first start in points at Thorpe Lodge and this would be a similar level of form. Back in third, Unjust Law was sensibly held up in rear by Tom Greenall and crept into contention in the back straight on the final lap. Holding every chance approaching three out, the jolly soon flattened out and found little off the bridle. Unjust Law shaped as though three miles might stretch his stamina, especially in these conditions. Stable companion and second favourite Le Passing fell at the 4th. Another to be prominent early, Autograph filled fourth. Benefiting from her first outing between the flags at Bangor, this was a decent display. Having been last for a long time, Liverpool Echo stayed on past beaten horses to be a distant sixth. Standandbecounted dropped out after being to the fore for much of the journey, while Walter’s Laddie ought to come on for the run.
The competitive 13-runner Ladies Open looked like going to Keeverfield after a scintillating display of front running and bold jumping. He’d led from flagfall under an aggressive ride from Sam Drake and was still well clear, seemingly with the contest in safekeeping, when he crumpled on landing three out and can be classed as extremely unlucky. If recovering from the unfortunate spill with confidence and health intact, compensation surely awaits for Keeverfield. This allowed Well Presented and Jo Mason to take the initiative and pull out all the stops to carry off the prize from Flashy Boy (Hannah Burton nee Kinsey). Obviously in need of his visit to North Carlton earlier in the month, this represented the best yet for Well Presented in points. Flashy Boy had headed the chasers until Keeverfield came down and was perhaps unfortunate not to be gifted the triumph. Well Presented just had more left in the tank in the war of attrition on the run-in. Flashy Boy keeps his form well and can be relied upon to run his race. The top two were weary at the end after the relentless gallop. Blandings Castle made steady headway from the rear for Pip Tutty to take third. Waited with, Blandings Castle was running on when others were spent forces. This was a fine initial attempt at pointing. One Five Eight finished fourth and, while he might not be the horse he was a couple of years ago, he is unlikely to be seen in his best light on his seasonal bow. The ex-Jonjo O’Neill inmate Pass It On appeared to blow up leaving the back stretch for the last time. Caramia was in touch in the main pack when he tipped up.
Nine horses lined up for the Mens Open and several might have been scared off by the presence of the current Cheltenham Foxhunters hero Amicelli, who went off long odds-on. However, uncharacteristically, he came to grief at the 4th, leaving the race wide open. The honours went the way of True Friday, partnered by Richard Armson. Pluckily keeping all comers at bay over the final three fences, True Friday was not going to be denied in typically honest fashion. She’s been a fantastic campaigner in recent years and was collecting her eighth race between the flags. Runner-up Over To Joe, with Miles Seston giving plenty of assistance from the saddle, kept boxing on, underlining that his stable is in form. Although not too consistent, a reproduction of this run should see him pick up a race. Forty Shakes bounced back to something like his old self in third. John Dawson’s mount performed like a horse with a problem in 2008, but his talent isn’t in doubt. If Forty Shakes can build on this, success should again not be long in coming. Fourth was Flying Spur, who is an admirable sort, but possibly isn’t quite up to this grade.
There was a field of 11 for the Restricted, which in truth didn’t look the strongest on paper. However, that’s taking nothing away from the victor, Keen Whip. On the run from four out, he was the first of the leading quartet off the bridle, but kept responding to Mark Walford’s urgings, hit the front approaching the final fence, and cleared right away on the run-in. Keen Whip found plenty for pressure and was simply too strong for the opposition when it mattered. Being his seasonal reappearance, it had all the more merit. Richard Armson steered Ballyclement into second. Once Ballyclement had taken over at the head of affairs, he appeared to have pinched the race, but was mastered in the last quarter mile. His overall profile isn’t particularly convincing, but there was nothing wrong with this display. French Bey, partnered by Sarah Phizacklea, stayed on stoutly in the home straight to be third. The farther the better seems to be the motto for this fellow. Pass The Parsel could find no more late on in fourth. Return Fire had gone third when, having hit the ditch on the first circuit, he paid the price for taking a liberty second time around. Goforthegap went out like a light and fitness might have been an issue.
The Mares Maiden brought together nine hopefuls, but one by one they fell by the wayside and just three finished. Although they were carrying five pounds less, the time was much quicker than both divisions of the geldings maiden. The finish was fought out between Poppy Day and Jo Mason and Plume D’Oudairies, in the hands of Tom Greenall, with the former getting the better of the argument by two lengths. Once Poppy Day got to the front on the long run to the third fence from the finish, she was not for passing and gamely held on. She had chased home My Old Piano at Sheriff Hutton in January and, on the basis of that performance, it was no surprise to see her take top spot here. This made it a double on the card for the jockey. Plume D’Oudairies, the favourite, looked likely to pick off her rival down the home run, but was battled out of it. She ought to be better off for the outing and can go one better in the future. The pair were miles clear of Another Jameson, under Ian Smith, who did least keep going for third. Next Girl unusually did a lot of the donkey work up front for a debutant, before understandably getting tired and being pulled up. Expect her to know a lot more next time. Miss Rosella was overwhelmed by the occasion and refused at the 1st.
Division One of the Geldings Maiden had ten runners. There was a wide margin winner in Master Wolfe, with Tom Greenall on top, who was left clear by the fall of Henry Beauclerc, and was far from friendless in the market. Master Wolfe travelled kindly throughout and appeared to have things under control when his nearest pursuer crashed out. He’d needed his trip to Sheriff Hutton desperately and we’ll have to see where he goes from here. Eventual runner-up Supreme Spoof (Henry Kinchin) did about as well as could be expected, however he does seem to have limitations. Eurospoofer came third for Miles Seston. He again exhibited some ability. Only three finished. Henry Beauclerc was the pace setter and he looked booked for second when he hit the deck. Although he lay winded for a while, if none the worse, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the period ahead. Racing Ace was bang there when getting rid of John Dawson at the 11th. The Real Tom Eoin will strip fitter in future. Sprout made an encouraging start to his career under a quiet ride and will have learnt a lot.
Division Two of the Geldings Maiden also saw ten horses come under orders and the spoils were claimed by Impact Zone, making Tom Greenall the third rider at the meeting to grab a brace of winners. Once he was asked to go through with his effort, Impact Zone soon put the matter to bed despite the challenge of the willing Kingman Reef under Adam Wedge. Impact Zone can make his presence felt in restricteds. Whilst it was really a lost cause once Impact Zone went past, Kingman Reef never gave up. A gangly sort, there’ll be improvement in him, especially when the five-year-old has matured further. Dreamaker (Oliver Pimlott) took third and could only keep on at the one pace at the business end. He had survived a horrendous blunder mid race that his jockey did remarkably well to sit and stamina appears to be his forte. Following a fourth at Sheriff Hutton, he might well find a small race. Having his initial start on a racecourse, Fli Mi Son caught the eye in fourth. Not given a hard time once he didn’t immediately quicken turning for home, the experience won’t be lost on him and he should have a maiden within his capabilities. Saddlers Singer did OK and will do better. Forge Valley was making progress from the back of the field when he came to grief at the fifth last, the open ditch. Kandelin led or disputed for much of the way, but beat a hasty retreat when push came to shove. He’d been a good second to an improving type at North Carlton three weeks ago.