The inclement weather in the run up to the Quorn meeting meant that Brian and his team had to work even harder to provide us with some sport. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for preparing a track which jockey, trainers and owners alike agree was exactly as advertised.
That said, declarations were disappointing for the early races on the card. There were plenty of entries but the horses didn’t show on the day. This is a problem the sport needs to look at and the Midlands Area team are going to try to find out from keepers what it was which influenced their decisions in the run up to this meeting. It’s not fair on the paying public to advertise races with 20 runners for which only two appear, and there was a good crowd to disappoint on Sunday.
The David Kemp-trained Caryto Des Brosses (Dale Peters) was joined by Bravehearted Harry (Rory Bevin) in the first, the PPORA Club Members Conditions race. The latter made a good race of it but in the end the odds of favourite was too strong and pulled away to win comfortably in the run in, despite a scare over the last.. Having previously won three in a row over the shorter 2m4f distance it was clear that the longer distance was not going to be a problem. Definitely one to watch.
The second race of the day was the Mens Open for the Quorn Gold Cup but the lure of a legendary prize was not enough to attract a field. So it was that Albi Tufnell and Tangolan, also entered in the Novice Rider final later, completed a walkover to take home the trophy, knowing they were free to race again an hour later.
The Ladies Open pitched two of the most prolific female jockeys in the country into a head to head. Gina Andrews rode Can Mestret, while Claire Hardwick brought forward Golden Tobouggan. The two were together for three laps, with the lead changing several times, before Hardwick pulled up Golden Tobouggan as they approached the last, leaving Andrews to complete the win on Cliff Myers’ 11-year-old.
The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders Final was next. Late qualifier Subtitle (Will Marshall) was the front runner, as he was when qualifying behind Kashmir Peak at Guilsborough last weekend, with Tangolan (Albi Tufnell), Aupcharlie (Miss M. Tallett) and Robin De Boss all in attendance. As they turned into the final straight it was Robin De Boss and Aupcharlie who had the running left and fought out a good finish, with Jamie Hepburn steering to Robin De Boss to victory in the run in. This horse won twice in the Midlands area before heading down to the South West and qualified for the final here at the Chipley Park meeting before adding further wins to a successful season. Jockey Jamie Hepburn had been doing what training he can while working in London: namely by cycling across the city on a bike with no saddle.
Races for older horses are still proving popular and the conditions race for nine-year-olds and over here brought ten runners to the start. The running order had changed as the horses came down the hill for the final, with Midnight King (Claire Hardwick) leading Unseen (Rory Bevin), Blackwood Rover (Dickie Collinson) and Pebbleglen (Marcus Thorpe-Codman) with three to jump. Having lost out earlier in the Ladies Open Claire Hardwick made up for it here with a strong finish aboard Midnight King, Unseen was second and Pebbleglen in third. Connections were very pleased because this horse has had a bug for much of this season and really wanted faster ground.
Dickie Collinson piloted Iconic Star to victory in the Open Maiden, a race which saw the places go to less fancied horses. The 8/1 winner was being raced by Collinson for the first time and beat Mackie Dee (Philip Armson) and Squeaky (James Martin) into second and third.
The last two races of the day were JRL-sponsored two mile flat races for horses of four, five or six, aiming to qualify for the Final of this series at Aintree next month. The first race went to Rapaport and Toby Bulgin quite comfortably, with Hardessa (J. Brace) and Complywithme (Philip Armson) in the places. “She hated the ground,” Bulgin told me, so they will hoping for much quicker at Aintree. Finally the last race of the day went to Shaltoo and Alex Edwards, pleased to land his only ride of the day. This Philip Rowley-owned five-year-old held off a spirited finish from Sally Can’t Wait (J. Nailor) with Foxy Covert (E. Glassonbury) in third. It was pleasing to see a good ground remain for the flat races, which provided some good betting opportunities which had been lacking earlier in the day.
The next Midlands meeting is next Sunday, 6th May, at Dingley, near Market Harborough. Pre-event tickets from MidlandsPointing.com are £12.50m until Monday 30th April, then £14. Entry on the day is £15 per person with U16s going free. Ticket prices all include a race card.