The weather forecast for the Woodland Pytchley meeting proved to be disappointingly accurate but did not deter an enthusiastic Leicestershire crowd, who were determined to enjoy this Dingley opener.
The feature race was the 2 mile and half mile Mixed Open, the first of these shorter format opens to run here in the Midlands area. Johnny Weatherby’s eight-year-old Decade Player made all the running under Dale Peters, leading for two miles and forging a lead of 20 or so lengths before falling four flights from home. This handed victory to Robert Waley-Cohen’s experienced Warne (S. Waley-Cohen), eight lengths clear of Dream Mistress (F. Henderson), with Full Throttle (J. Bailey) five lengths third. Sam Waley-Cohen was pragmatic about his unsuccessful appeal earlier in the week. “It’s just one of those unfortunate situations, we just have to move on to the next thing.” Warne is entered in both the Foxhunters’ and the Topham at Aintree, but Sam can only ride him if he runs in the Topham.
One of the most impressive performances of the day was by Militarian in the 2m 4f Maiden for four, five and six year-old horses. This six-year-old by Kayf Tara is half-brother to the Harry Fry-trained Hells Kitchen and looked to have a lot of potential beating co-joint-favourite Extreme Appeal (J. Bailey) by seven lengths, with Holy Dancer (F. Henderson) a distance third.
The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders was another race to feature a runaway leader, this time in the shape of odds-on favourite Qoubilai, trained by Thomas Messenger and ridden by Lottie Crane. This twelve-year-old does like to front run but had not run for nearly a year and faded dramatically in the approach to the last, leaving the outside track free for Ballycarry (Mrs C. Adam) to win by eight lengths, with Festival Bound (Miss K. Gowing) second and the favourite back in third. These three all qualify for the Novice Riders Series Final which is part of the Melton Hunt Club meeting at Garthorpe on Sunday 8th May.
The Subaru Restricted Race was another qualifier, this time for the Restricted Series Final at Stratford-on-Avon on Friday 20th May. In The Gate (Miss K. Gowing) was the early leader in this one, taking up the running for the first two laps of the course before finally being pulled up, leaving Richard Russell’s Gerald Bailey-trained Easythingsarebest (T. McClorey) to win convincingly by ten lengths from Royal Benifet (D. Peters) with Davids City (P. Millington) a distant third. The owner was full of praise for the jockey, who was standing in for John Russell, who is still recovering from a back injury sustained earlier this season at Garthorpe. “Tom has been schooling him this week and he has been jumping really well, he gave him a lovely lovely ride.”
The first race of the day provided us with an impressive win for Arkose (W. Thirlby) who looked comfortable throughout and was able to pull away from Mac Halen (Mrs S. Tyler) and Bay To Go (Miss L. Wheeler), with favourite Nightcap Jack (D. Peters) in fourth. ”
Finally, our day’s racing finished with the three-mile Open Maiden race which saw only three runners stay the course. The Henry Hill-trained More Tricks won by three lengths with Jack Day on board, from First Goodnight (T. McClorey) three lengths behind in second and Oi Oi Savaloi (P. Millington) ten lengths behind them in third. “So excited to have a winner,” the owner, Mrs Robson, told me, “she’s a horse who lives up to her name! She doesn’t have a great turn of speed but is a stayer, so this ground suited her today.”
The Midlands Pointing machine moves straight on to the South Notts meeting at Thorpe Lodge on Easter Monday. E-tickets which include a free race card are available from www.midlandspointing.com/shop and we all look forward to seeing you there!