The Fitzwilliam’s meeting at Dingley was a blustery but dry affair with a good mixture of races to appeal to all. The Midlands Area Leading Rider title now has all to play for as the jockeys prepare for the final meeting of our season, at Garthorpe next Saturday.
The opener was the Members’, Subscribers’ and Farmers’ race proved to be a straightforward one for favourite Done A Runner, who led for most, if not all, of the race and seemed to have plenty left when winning by three lengths. Hawkers Son was impressive in second although it was evident that any pressure they put on the leader was going to be easily rebuffed.
The PPORA Club Members Conditions race produced something of an upset when Clouded Thoughts, ridden by Harry Wallace, took control of the race from Helpston, the mount of Gina Andrews. “I was going to make my move as we turned downhill on the second last bend, and I knew he had plenty left,” said Wallace, who became a father a week ago. Many congratulations all round!
The Mens Open race brought several well-rated horses together. As it turned out it was Dido and Dale Peters who made much of the running, with the following pack changing positions at regular intervals. Favourite Green Winter (Z. Baker) looked promising at times, but dropped off the pace at others, Festival Bound (R. Bevin) being another in the mix. In the last half mile, though, it was Panama Canal and Tom Strawson who found extra pace and pulled through to take the lead at the crucial point. “The key to his races is his jumping,” Strawson told me later, “and today that was perfect.” He went on to win by two or three lengths on the jockey’s 22nd race ride on the horse, with Dido second and Green Winter in third.
The Ladies Open which followed was a relatively straightforward win for Can Mestret (Gina Andrews), who put on an impressive display of jumping to win comfortably. Favourite Never Complain (I. Marshall) looked ominously strong and challenging for the lead when he unseated his rider with half a lap or so to go and from there on it was plain sailing. Letbeso was a way behind in second, Always A Chance third.
Izzie Marshall’s disappointment did not last long, as she went on to win the next, the Restricted race, on Wonderful Present. Favourite Florella (S. Davies-Thomas) challenged twice in the last half mile but on both occasions the leader was able to find more and hold on to take the win of what was a steadily-paced race. Kabanga Bay was third.
The first of two maiden races, this one over the full three miles, produced a great finish between two Andrews siblings. On this occasion it was Gina, on Big Man Doe, who fought off brother Jack (Drive On Joe) to win be a few lengths. It was particularly nice to see that the second placed horse was none the worse after the incident last week at Garthorpe which resulted in the last race being void.
Another horse who was going well in the void race at the Melton Hunt Club meeting last week was Derksen (Miss T. Worsley), trained by Francesca Nimmo. Re-routing here was an obvious choice and it paid off for this combination as they won, beating favourite Colt Lightning (T. O’Brien) into second place.
The last meeting of the Midlands season takes place next Saturday, 3rd June, at Garthorpe, with the Meynell being our hosts.