by Ian Marshall

Following the abandonment of the Brocklesby here a fortnight ago, the South Wold was the only fixture at Brocklesby Park this year. A decent crowd was in attendance, given the at times drizzly weather. The official going was “good to soft, soft in places” and the conditions were certainly stamina-sapping with finishers at a premium, even on the virgin ground.

The opening younger horse maiden attracted a field of 16 and Troubleshooter went a good gallop, leading them a merry dance until fading leaving the back straight. It was left to Hunca Munca and Thanks Jim to fight it out over the closing three fences. Having made stealthy progress under Mark Walford throughout the final circuit, it looked as though Thanks Jim may come to collect as the duo took the last neck and neck. However, he made a mistake that handed his opponent the initiative and Nick Pearce galvanized Hunca Munca to stay on stoutly up the hill and land the spoils by two lengths. The Laura Pomfret-trained winner had hinted at ability on her only previous outing at Mollington where she came down some way out, while debutant Thanks Jim ran a race full of promise. Ravenscar (Simon Walker) finished third and this consistent type, who was placed for the fourth time in a row this season, ought to have a maiden in his sights. Favourite Bright Dawn (Guy Brewer), who made several mistakes, moved up menacingly on the home turn, before a bad blunder stopped her in her tracks. This five-year-old will need to brush up her jumping in the future if she’s to score.

Rachel Clark is really making a name for herself this season and she was seen to good effect when booting home Claire’s Nomad in the PPORA Novice Riders race. Having taken a Restricted on the same horse at Market Rasen to initiate a double in February, she must really enjoy the trips south from Yorkshire. The victor stuck on gamely to deny Winter Gale and Laura Eddery by three lengths, with a further 15 lengths to The Nobleman and Nick Docker in third. Although his attitude shouldn’t be brought into question, Winter Gale requires producing late, which makes him quite a tricky ride, as shown by the number of seconds in his form figures. The Nobleman cut out the running and appeared to fold tamely, but did plug on again, admittedly at one pace. Purevalue is slowly getting fitter, while Energy Man showed more than he has done for some time.

The Confined went to Springlea Tower. Off the bridle and under pressure in rear at halfway, he looked an unlikely winner, but responded for Richard Hunnisett’s urgings to sprout wings after the final fence and storm up the run in. The victory was just desserts for Springlea Tower because he has kept his form well without getting his head in front. Not even a pound overweight proved too much of a burden. There was half a length to runner-up Ramirez and Nick Kent, who showed that their January Market Rasen win in a weaker race had been no fluke. Compensation awaits in a Restricted, for which he is still qualified. Third-placed The Graduate (Simon Walker) was beaten another length. Having set a decent pace, he fought valiantly once headed and ran on right to the line. Folliday and Ben Woodhouse were back in fourth. Thankfully, Silver Buzzard and Gemma Hutchinson were OK after a tired fall three from home. Two to take out of the race must surely be The Graduate and Blue Royal, who have both had their problems. The former doesn’t have many miles on the clock for a ten-year-old and can build on this comeback. Blue Royal was once a smart hurdler and hails from the powerful stable of Bill Warner. The French-bred gelding wasn’t knocked about by Stuart Morris and was pulled up at the end of the back straight. He looked burly in the paddock beforehand and will be interesting when in tiptop condition.

The Ladies Open was won in impressive fashion by the odds-on favourite Supreme Citizen and the excellent Jane Williams for mother Di. The partnership quickened nicely when sent on at the top of the home run and soon put the matter beyond doubt. They had occupied a prominent position in the leading bunch during the whole of the race. Nokimover under Gemma Hutchinson finished second and was only shaken off late on. He won’t meet an opponent of this quality every week and should find a small race. Ardmayle was booked for third until depositing Lucy Coney at the third last. That position went to Edmond (Holly Campbell), but he was a long way behind. However, the former Welsh National winner did put in some sloppy leaps when outpaced on the final lap on his seasonal reappearance and wasn’t persevered with. Only three got round, Ballad Minstrel being pulled up before the last. Zabadi will be better off for the race and cannot have been helped by carrying top weight. The bold jumping front-running Master Adam raced with a good deal of zest until pulled up by Kate Edminson with a circuit to go.

Just three went to post for the Mens Open, which was an extremely disappointing turnout, as you would have thought that trainers should have relished some cut in the ground. On paper, it looked a virtual match between Nautical Lad and San Francisco, and so it proved with the outsider Cateel Bay being pulled up at the 11th. Nautical Lad was long odds-on to complete a four-timer in his first open and hit the front turning for home. San Francisco and Guy Brewer didn’t go down without a fight though and Joe Docker had to get serious with the favourite, before coming clear after the last. Nautical Lad was kept up to his work to the line, whereas San Francisco was considerably eased, leaving a flattering winning distance of about double what it could have been. Connections were understandably thrilled with Nautical Lad’s first foray into open company and he might easily extend the winning sequence. Nautical Lad had gone into many notebooks the previous week when sluicing home in a Garthorpe intermediate, even with a five pound penalty for a confined victory. San Francisco was far from disgraced and faced a stiff task conceding seven pounds to an up and coming rival. Apart from disappointing at Charm Park when unable to dominate, San Francisco had only been beaten by Mr Mahdlo and Mr Pendleberry this season, and they have both doubled up. This recruit from Alistair Whillans will no doubt be found a race soon by shrewd trainer Freya Hartley.

It was a red hot 14-runner Restricted that faced the starter next. Ten Bob and Coole Glen were the market leaders and they dominated, along with Budle Bay, setting a furious pace and opening a lead on their pursuers of some 15 lengths, who were strung out like washing behind. Once Budle Bay had dropped away legless after the fourth last, the principals entered the home straight together. It only needed a slight shake of the reins from a cool Niall Saville though and Ten Bob went on to win his race in convincing fashion. Jumping like an old hand, Ten Bob made it two from two in his short career. Those observers at Witton Castle last month couldn’t fail to have been impressed by his hard held maiden triumph. Niall’s trainer brother Joss and owner Sue Smith are likely to place this one again to perfection in the future. Coole Glen is lightly raced and did well to take a Thorpe Park maiden earlier in the year. He won’t often meet opposition of this calibre and Bill Warner should be able to find a suitable opportunity for him. Glensan (Guy Brewer) and Moscow Tradition (Joe Docker) always headed the pursuers and finished third and fourth respectively, in the end not beaten too far. Glensan is highly thought of by the Sowersby camp and looks certain to visit the winners’ enclosure before long. Moscow Tradition will offer more next time in a lesser contest. These four were the only ones to complete. Nothing else got competitive, although General Carats did give a modicum of hope for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, Stuart Morris failed to weigh in on Coole Glen and they were disqualified.

In the last, the older horse maiden, Lights On returned from two years off the track to foil a gamble on Kindle A Flame (3-1 to 6-4fav). Given a quiet ride by owner/rider Lord Manton early doors, Lights On took control entering the home straight and immediately turned the race into a procession. In fact, the winning margin was so comfortable, Lights On was getting pats down the neck from his jockey all the way up the run in! This was some training performance from David Easterby and, if avoiding the dreaded “bounce” factor, a restricted seems a formality. Kindle A Flame and Guy Brewer were some way adrift in second. The runner-up may be better on less testing ground, as it is debatable whether he truly stays three miles. He did at least jump round though, following two falls in as many starts in points. Frosty Fella under Ben Pollock came home third, which indicated progress from his Horseheath debut for this late developer, meanwhile Bankersdraft and Michael Morley in fourth couldn’t raise the tempo when it mattered. Here Comes Choosey was disappointing and may appreciate faster going, while Landford Lad appeared reluctant after a couple of reasonable efforts.

A total of 70 horses came under orders for the seven races and an enjoyable afternoon was had by all. Spirits were hardly dampened by the rain and many will look forward to the double header here next year.