Fair weather and good ground were the order of the day for the Melton Hunt Club’s meeting at Garthorpe on Sunday 21st May.
The card started with three pony races, the first of which was for novices. This produced a fabulous finish between Good Luck Rosie (Georgie Clayton) and Gulliver (Benoit de la Sayette), the latter very well ridden to victory. Highmead Reflection and Chloe East came home in third. The 138cms open race which followed this was won in impressive style by the prolific pony Push The Button, in the hands of Thomas Bradbourne, with Warmwell Lizzie (Harvey Poole) and Gazza Cruiser (Poppy Scott) in second and third respectively. The last of our pony races, the 148cms open, saw another impressive ride by Violet Barton on the appropriately named Miss Wonderful who led home Pick Pocket (Nia Kerslake) and Aries (Albi Tufnell).
The horse races started with the Fisher German Melton Hunt Club Member Conditions Race which attracted a field of 12 runners and provided a great race. The running was made, from the outset, by Ballalough and Sam Davies-Thomas, while favourite Shantou Prince bided their time in the chasing pack. The race continued at a good pace and Shantou Prince made their move late in the race but it wasn’t enough, as Davies-Thomas fought of the challenger to win it by a couple of lengths. The winning time of 6m 13s was the second fastest time of the day. “He has had more than his fair share of injuries,” trainer David Kemp told me, “and his jumping can be a bit iffy! We are all thrilled.”
The Restricted race brought six horses to post and looked to be producing another win for Gina Andrews and Distant Rain, but as they reached the last, Demood, the mount of James Martin, reeled them in and timed a perfect finish to win by less than a head. Richard Pringuer had been confident of the ability of the mare which cost £600 in the Ascot sales, “the plan was to stay within reach of Gina and Distant Rain and we always thought he would get there. She will probably now head to Stratford.”
Double Handful (Joe Hill) won the 2m 4f PPORA Club Members race for horse of ten years old or over, having taken over from favourite Ring Ben (Alex Edwards) as they entered the final turn and holding off a decent challenge from Gallox Bridge (James Martin) in the run in. “He made a few mistakes,” Lawney Hill told me afterwards, “and he is very enthusiastic and we have to look after his legs.”
The feature race of the day was the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders Championship Final. Three very similarly rated horses took it in turns to lead this race at different points before the distance started to tell. Creepy (C. Dee) was the first to weaken and in as they approached the last favourite For ‘N’ Against (I. Marshall) could not hold on to Beggar’s Velvet and Amy Cox who stayed on well to win by 15 lengths. This family horse, which lives out, had almost refused to go into the paddock before the race, but jockey Amy Cox was pleased with their planning, “you have to ride him tactically,” she told me, “the plan had always been not to go too fast and I think we had our perfect race.”
The Mixed Open which followed saw two of the best horses around coming to post in what promised to be a fascinating contest. Hazel Hill (Alex Edwards) was looking to add a ninth straight victory to their record while TheTalkingHorse had multiple wins at Garthorpe and regular jockey Tom McClorey back on board after a recent injury. As the race entered the last half mile it was Hazel Hill, carrying 3lbs less, who started to pull away from TheTalkingHorse, and continued to do so as they went on to win by 12 lengths.
This was the first part of a quick-fire double for Mrs Williams, jockey Alex Edwards and trainer Philip Rowley as they then won the Jockey Club Open Maiden for Mares and Fillies with home-bred four-year-old Gadrose. Despite her size she made the most of a 21lb weight advantage over her rivals and went on to win comfortably. The owner was quick to praise trainer Philip Rowley, “he’s a master of his art and really know what he is doing.”
Unfortunately the last race of the day, the three-mile Open Maiden, had to be voided after a fall for Richard Collinson who had been riding Drive on Joe. The running rail was damaged in the incident, which was between two fences on a bend in the course, and the decision was quickly taken that it was not possible to route the remaining runners around the faller and damaged rail in a safe manner. We are grateful to both our volunteer fence judges and the other jockeys in the race for knowing the correct procedure and acting quickly to prevent any further accidents. Mr Collinson reports that he is sore but not badly hurt.
Midlands area pointing continues with the Fitzwilliam meeting which takes place at Dingley on Saturday 27th May. A preview for that meeting is available on our website as usual.