The Easter weekend started in glorious sunshine, attracting a large and enthusiastic crowd to Dingley racecourse for the Woodland with Pytchley meeting on Saturday 8th April.
Six races on the card were well supported, with 32 runners across the card, a fitting reward for all the hard work put into the course by Clerk of Course Charles Millington and his team who had to deal with difficult weather in the run-up.
The feature race of the day was the Mixed Open, sponsored by Macintyre Hudson. Alex Chadwick and favourite Ragnor Lodbrok won this, making it three from five for the horse, owned by the Whiskey and Water Partnership headed by point-to-point stalwart Gerald Bailey, and trained in East Anglia by Jennifer Owen. “We love days like this.” Gerald said, “It’s about having the boot open!” Jennifer Owen added, “Alex rides him every day. He’s a great asset to us and I think he enjoyed that.” Ben Durrell finished second on board his own Bonamargy, and The Unmentionable (Dale Peters) was some way back in third.
Four runners started the first race of the day, the King West Hunt Members which saw Mountain Assault, trained and ridden by Dale Peters, time their race to perfection to draw clear before the last. This was the third win in succession for this combination. Favourite Minella Wizard was nine lengths back in second, with Lucinda Ticehurst’s What A Moment in third with the owner on board. A special mention to Will Bishop, winner of many a top-flight hunt ride, who completed his point-to-point debut on board Top Up The Fashion.
Rathbones kindly sponsored the Conditions race which followed which saw Seven No Trumps, trained and ridden by Ben Durrell claim victory from second-placed Thunderstruck and Dale Peters, with evens favourite Walkonthewildside (Jack Andrews) back in third.
Seven horses started the Restricted which was sponsored by local pub chain Greedy Gordons. Yippee Ki Yay, trained by Nicky Sheppard for the Herbert family, won this easily with Milo Herbert in the plate. Jack Andrews, riding Champagne Glory for Stuart Morris and Mrs Latilla-Campbell, was a distant second and Dash Full Of Cash (Rupert Stearn for Jennifer Owen) was third.
Two maidens closed out the card, the first of which was a three-mile Open Maiden, sponsored by Berrys Accountants. Cottesmore Huntsman’s wife and Hounds columnist Phoebe Jones led this for two laps on Elmdale before being unseated as they approached the Ashpoles. In the end home-bred five-year-old Chasing Glance made an excellent start to their racing career by coming home strongly, first of the seven runners under Jack Andrews for Tom Ellis. “A little bit of a surprise.” Simon Andrews said, “He’s obviously a nice horse and he jumped well, but had to be clever at a couple, including the last. A nice prospect.” Maskadam started favourite and finished second for owner/trainer Dale Peters and third was Here’s Bingo (Martin McIntyre).
The last race of the day was a two and half miles Maiden for mares and fillies, sponsored by The Jockey Club and BMTC Law. Robert Waley-Cohen’s Chabichou Dupoitou (Martin Mcintyre) made most of the running here, but was headed coming down the final hill by Smugglers Haven and Alice Stevens, giving us the best finish of the day as these two contested the run-in. At the flag it was Smugglers Haven by a length to bring 50 winners between the flags for Alice Stevens. Queens Walk (Jack Andrews) had started favourite but bronked down to the first and looked a handful, pulling up with three to jump.