Girl power won the day at the Meynell and South Staffordshire meeting at Garthorpe on Saturday, as female riders won the majority of the races at the last Midlands Area meeting of this season.
There was some success for the boys, including in the feature race of the day, the Mixed Open, which produced an impressive display from Midnight King and jockey Will Thirlby, who won the Sheldon Bosley Knight Open Hunter Chase at Stratford on Downbythestrand the evening before.
Nearly all the running had been made by ante-post favourite Big Man Doe (Gina Andrews) but despite not winning since May last year the thirteen year-old Midnight King timed his run for the finish to perfection and pulled away in the run in to win by seven lengths. Nineteen-year-old Thirlby, who started a new job for Alan King in the week, said, “It’s my first ride on the horse but it all went to plan. He jumped brilliantly.” When asked about his aspirations, he added, “Pointing has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have as a conditional jockey so I have no plans to change my status. If I was ever offered rides for Mr King that would be amazing, but I have no plans to stop pointing.”
The day began with two well-supported pony races after the young jockeys were treated to a course walk and guidance from professional jockey coach Mark Bradburne.
The 138cms race was won by twelve-year-old Arthur Myddelton and his pony Jazz, with Sarah Longthorn and Styalways Solitaire second and Katie Bradburne was third with Merryment Top Cat.
The 148cms race went to Harbye Poole and Cudlic Verona, with Pick Pocket (Jess Samuel Stewart) and Archie Bailey and Beside The Sea third.
The opening horse race of the day, the PPORA Club Members conditions race, was won by Amy Cox and Beggar’s Velvet in one of the fastest times of the day. Amy, who runs a busy wedding venue, has been receiving help from great friends Francesca Nimmo and Charlie Poste for the last fortnight and has reaped the benefits, with two victories, only a week apart.
Hott Lips and Lucy Turner took the Intermediate race which followed, proving that this mare can stay 3 miles in style. Wins on two previous outings at 2m 4f proved to be no real indicator as the seven-year-old finished well. “She’s a lovely mare, if a bit feisty,” Lucy Turner told me, “and I thought we might have hit the front a bit soon, but she was still full of running.”
The Novice Riders race which followed this was led for most of the race by the Alan Hill-trained The Gunner Brady (C. Case) until two out when a well-timed run by ex-hunter/chaser Accord brought them to an unassailable lead, winning by eleven lengths at the flags. Jockey Justin Brotherton told me that the transition from rules to points has not been straightforward. “He’s slowly getting his confidence back, and this is the results in a change in training methods!”
Tom Strawson notched up his 50th career win in the Open Maiden race, riding John B’s to victory by four lengths from On Parole in second and favourite Catwalk Frank in third. It was nearly very different, though, after John B’s stumbled on landing at the last and very nearly ditched the jockey. “We are working on getting the jumping more confident”, said Strawson.
The loudest cheer of the day came when local jockey Sophie Walker brought First Class Ticket into the winner’s enclosure after victory in the Restricted race. The horse was purchased by the Walker family last Summer and he has quickly become the character of the yard, Sophie told me. Signed and Sealed (Jack Andrews) and Charles Brown (Tom Strawson) completed the frame.
The last winner of the 2019 Midlands season was Breezy Kin, piloted to victory in the conditions race by Lucinda Ticehurst. A clearly thrilled Lucinda, who as well as being jockey is groom, vet, physio and trainer to this horse, told me that plans are made for a trip to Umberleigh to end the season.
Results from Dingley
Race 1 – PPORA Club Members
1st Beggar’s Velvet (Amy Cox) 6/4F
2nd Knockedoutloaded (Gina Andrews) 2/1
3rd West Lake (Jack Andrews) 7/2
Race 2 – Intermediate
1st Hott Lips (Lucy Turner) 3/1
2nd You Know The Story (Gina Andrews) 8/11F
3rd What A Joke (George Prince) 7/2
Race 3 – Novice Riders
1st Accord (Justin Brotherton) 2/1
2nd The Gunner Brady (C. Case) 6/4F
3rd Lords Park Star (Jamie Brace) 10/1
Race 4 – Mixed Open
1st Midnight King (Will Thirlby) 13/2
2nd Western Diva (Claire Hardwick) 7/1
3rd Dido (Dale Peters) 5/1
Race 5 – Open Maiden
1st John B’s (Tom Strawson) 3/1
2nd On Parole (Alice Stevens) 5/2
3rd Catwalk Frank (Huw Edwards) 10/11F
Race 6 – Restricted
1st First Class Ticket (Sophie Walker) 4/1
2nd Signed And Sealed (Jack Andrews) 6/1
3rd Charles Brown (Tom Strawson) EvensF
Race 7 – Conditions
1st Breezy Kin (Lucinda Ticehurst) 7/1
2nd Singininthevalleys (Lucy Turner) 5/4F
3rd Pelegrine Falcon (Jack Andrews) 5/1