An excellent Meynell & South Staffs meeting brought the Garthorpe point-to-point season to a close on Saturday, with 53 runners contesting the seven races on a lovely sunny afternoon. Once again the Garthorpe team led by Clerk of Course Brian Crawford had done an excellent job, producing good fresh ground with plenty of grass cover.
The first race of the day was the Geldards Law Firm PPORA Club Members Conditions Race which attracted twelve runners. Dido and Derksen were sent off as favourites here, but it was Big Man Doe and Zack Baker who led the race, from start to finish, clearly enjoying the quicker ground conditions. Bingo Star (Jack Andrews) and Dido (Dale Peters) both seemed to travel well but didn’t have the legs to catch the winner, the distances being 2 and a half and five lengths respectively. Zack Baker reported that the winner “felt very fresh and well and jumped brilliantly.”
Philip Armson had the ride of Max O in the Alrewas Hayes Intermediate Race which was the second on the card. They had won here a fortnight ago and went off as favourites in this field of nine runners, with the young jockey hoping to secure the Garthorpe championship title in the process. On this occasion, though, it was not to be, as the impressive Heated Debate, trained by Francesca nimmo and ridden by Alice Stevens, paced the race to perfection, hitting the lead with four to run and staying on to win well. Alan Hill-trained Stage One (Dan Cherriman) kept them honest but lost out by two lengths, Max O was third, eight lengths behind them. There was great concern after the finish when the winner collapsed but, thanks to some timely work from the course vets and connections, he was soon back on his feet to extended applause from the appreciative crowd.
After this we had another of the very popular PPORA Club Members races for Novice Riders, sponsored by Bowcock and Pursaill. Six runners came forward, including multiple race winners Kashmir Peak, Tempelpirate and Bayley’s Dream. Early running was made by Love Manhattan (Meisha Micklewright) and Icthec (Harry Thorpe-Codman) before Bayley’s Dream, ridden by Billy Aprahamian took over at the front. Despite subsequently being tracked by Kashmir Peak (Dan Cherriman) and, latterly, Tempelpirate (C. Dowson), John Aprahamian’s progressive nine-year-old went on to record their fifth win from six runs this season. “He’s keen and has lots of quality,” the jockey told me, “and we’ve been eyeing up this race for some time after coming second to Kashmir Peak in the mud at Edgecote.” Sadly this may be the last we see of this combination on our courses as Billy’s Army commitments mean that next season he may not be able to ride his horses, We wish them well.
The Cawarden Mixed Open Race saw a return to form for Judy Wilson’s Proximo, ridden by Jack Andrews and trained by Stuart Morris. A multiple winner here at Garthorpe in previous seasons, he could only manage 4th behind She’s Real here on 13th May but loved the quicker ground on this occasion, recording victory by four lengths. Zack Baker and Green Winter held the lead at various points of the race before weakening over the last few fences, an extra 9lbs taking its toll as they came home four lengths behind the leader and six ahead of His Excellency (Tom Strawson).
The Richard Winterton Auctioneers Open Maiden race saw a ten-length winner in the shape of Desert Retreat. Graham Henderson’s seven-year-old found form here to win comfortably under James King, apparently much improved for the wind operation earlier in the season. King stepped in for regular jockey Gina Andrews, currently serving a ban, and was given free rein to make his move when he thought best. Tigers Eye, in second, looked a tricky sort before the race and was never fluent in second, making several mistakes. The place, though, gave Philip Armson an unassailable lead in the Garthorpe Gentleman’s Championship, an impressive performance from the seventeen year old.
The penultimate race of the day was the Fisher German Restricted Race, which produced one of the most popular winners of the day, judging by the reception. Kalinite (Alice Stevens) and Sinour (Tristan Durrell) made much of the running here, possibly too much, as they faded towards the end. Picking them off was What A Joke and George Prince, who seemed to time his race to perfection, taking the lead with two to jump. Kalinite and Sinour did their best to keep up with the winner, the former finishing second by four lengths while the latter unseated his rider at the last. Tom Chatfield-Roberts steered Dulwich Hill into third.
Finally, the last race of the Garthorpe season was the 2-mile 4-furlong Robert Baskerville Conditions Race. Moscow Me and Tom McClorey got off to a flyer here, stealing an early lead and making the running for much of the race. Favourite Blackwood Rover, though, tracked the leader all the way and made his move as they passed the starter for the final time. Their lead was short-lived however, as Moscow Me and Take The Crown both rallied before the last, with the Tik Saunders-trained Moscow Me running out the winner by less than a length at the line.
Southwell Racecourse sponsors the Garthorpe Championships, which were awarded between races. Leading Gentleman was won by Philip Armson, who will take on Dale Peters and tom McClorey for the Midlands Area title at Dingley on Saturday. Garthorpe Leading Lady belonged to Claire Hardwick, Leading Horse to TheTalkingHorse.
The Woodland Pytchley have rearranged their postponed fixture as an evening meeting this Saturday, 9th June. First race is at 4pm. See the preview for more details.