by Ian Marshall

A mild, calm afternoon greeted visitors to Charm Park and racing took place on perfect going. The second of the weekendís double header in Yorkshire brought spectators flocking to this galloping track and several close finishes will have left them pleased. 

The Hunt Members began proceedings and Minster Echo and Guy Brewer were victorious for the second year running. In fact, all three of the mareís successes have come at Charm Park. Having been increasingly lacklustre in restricteds in 2004, this was more her level. She was never headed, but was hard pressed by Final Chorus (Richard Wakeham), who chased her home. Final Chorus was showing her first form and though the race time was slow, she will have gained valuable experience. Third-placed Twinkle Toe Titch under Andrew Pennock was beaten a total of ten lengths and gave much encouragement for the future, following a less than salubrious debut, only being shaken off by the leading pair after the third last. Oswald (Michael Morley) was fourth. The race was notable in that none of the seven participants had completed the course in either of their last two starts, although there were two newcomers to pointing among them. 

The big two in the betting fought out the closing stages of the Restricted, with Cross River and Niall Saville prevailing by two lengths from Sevensider and Richard Wakeham. Trained by Joss Saville and owned by Sue Smith, Cross River had impressed in winning a Witton Castle maiden in February, but was taken off his feet in a Leicester hunter chase. It was a well-judged ride by Niall, as he jumped into the lead at the 6th from Mandate Man and dictated a fair pace. He was able to hold off Sevensider, the latter never quite getting on terms. Sevensider seemed far happier back on a decent surface, compared with his run on the desperate ground at Whitwell-on-the-Hill a week ago. Two horses battled for third with the honours going to Mandate Man and David Thomas. Mandate Man has been a bit in and out, but might well find a prize. Don Rio (Michael Morley) in fourth has taken time to acquaint himself in points and is coming to hand. 

The admirable Mr Pendleberry with Nicky Tinkler aboard claimed the Mixed Open by a nose from Nordic Crest and Mark Walford. Mr Pendleberry has been in the first four on all seven outings this season, winning three of them. Cheek pieces replaced his usual visor and hopefully he can keep this up into May. Nordic Crest stuck on defiantly after coming under pressure in the back straight the best part of a mile from home. Primitive Satin (Lee Bates) managed third and seemed none the worse for a heavy fall in a Market Rasen hunter chase in March. Clonshire Paddy and Jacqueline Coward snatched fourth at the death from Multi Franchise having got outpaced when the tempo increased. 

A nose was also all that separated Winter Gale (Laura Eddery) and Nip On (Guy Brewer) in the Confined. Winter Gale pulled himself to the front and took up an uncustomary position at the head of affairs, as heís usually a hold-up horse. However, he stayed there and ran on gamely after the last. It was just reward for a trio of runner-up spots earlier in the season. It was a rousing climax and Nip On can take a similar event in the next few weeks. Running his normal sound race in third was Maitre De Musique under Michael Tate. Yorkshire Edition (Wendy Gibson) was a one-paced fourth. It had been a busy weekend for Yorkshire Edition, as he had won the ladies open at Whittington on Easter Saturday. 

The maiden was split at declaration time and the first part saw Civil Gent give jockey Guy Brewer and trainer Mary Sowersby a double on the day. Following a couple of sound third placings at Welbeck and Whitwell-on-the-Hill, Civil Gent appears a completely different animal to his hurdling days. His slick fencing stands him in good stead. Owner John Payne was unfortunately unable to witness the victory due to another of his acquisitions being in action at Sedgefield. Landford Lad and Guy Armitage gained the verdict for second ahead of Ravenscar and Simon Walker. Landford Lad relinquished the lead, got slightly outpaced and then finished like a train. Ravenscar surely canít keep his maiden tag for long. Ex-hurdler Silogue took fourth for Nigel Tutty on his first appearance in a point. 

The second part of the maiden went to the French-bred five-year-old Search Party under a fine ride from Simon Walker. Search Party and Civil Gent filled the minor positions in Devilís Perkís 2m4f maiden at Whitwell-on-the-Hill the previous weekend. Search Party had earlier shown up well on his debut at Witton Castle before departing five out. Irish Paddy (Richard Clark) was only edged out into second on the run-in and Songino under Patrick Robinson gave his best display by far in points to claim third. Bankersdraft, with Michael Morley on top, was fourth, and is willing, but doesnít find a great deal at the business end. Parsifal might improve if settling better. Sadly, the favourite Thanks Jim, a promising youngster, representing the Walford stable suffered a fatal fall. 

The closing maiden was only open to horses who had not finished second or third in their lifetime and 33-1 shot Nought To Ninety and Lee Bates came with a rare rattle late on to score. The six-year-old benefited from a very patient ride timed to perfection and ran on strongly after the last. Bred from the dam Bonnyhill Lass by owner Charmaine Raw, Nought To Ninety is a half-brother to the dual points winner Little Vera. Runner-up French Venture (Ben Woodhouse) will come on leaps and bounds for the outing and should be watched closely next time. The Sea Club was third, just in front of Moraira, the latter responding well for pressure. After his antics at the start at Hornby Castle, Lynne Wardís Highland Wonder consented to jump off and raced keenly, indicating some promise, before understandably getting tired with about half a mile to go. Sue Smith and the Saville brothers endured the other side of racing when Switchback, who headed the betting, broke down irreparably on the run for home.