All the weekends meetings saw an increase in runners but lack of any substantial rain meant some trainers preferred to wait until conditions ease.
Droitwich based Max Young sent horses to Barbury Racecourse and Clifton on Dunsmore and was the only locally based handler to send out a winner, but had to wait until the final race on the Atherstone card.
Martin Oliver’s 5-year-old mare Cav’s Girl had been impressive when beating a solitary opponent at Leominster Races. She made all the running on that occasion and connections saw no reason to change a winning formula.
Cav’s Girl (seen winning at Leominster) followed up that success by scoring in the Atherstone Restricted
Gina Andrews took her to the front from the start of the Restricted and they never saw another rival. With two wins she has taken an early lead in the Jockey Club Mares Maiden Series Award but both of these successes have been over 2-1/2 miles so it will be interesting to see what she achieves when stepping up in distance.
West Midlands stables suffered one of those rare weekends by failing to chalk up a winner at Barbury.
Young’s runners failed to shine at the Wiltshire venue but will have benefitted for the experience. These included Grey Frontieres who will have learnt much from her racecourse debut, while The Feckenham Fox was always behind in the Mares and was wisely pulled up after a circuit, the same fate applying to Ask the Guvenor in the 3-mile Maiden.
Alistair Ralph’s Croome and West Warwickshire qualified Beat Star was sent off favourite for the opening JRL sponsored Flat Race but was in trouble coming out of the dip into the home straight and had to settle for fourth place behind Tom Malone’s Isla’s Dream.
Isla’s Choice (green and yellow) leads the field into the straight. Max Comleys Wonderful Dreamer (orange) ran well to claim second while Beat Star (green and white) finished fourth
Rendcomb trainer Max Comley’s Wonderful Dreamer caught the eye in this contest. Held up at the back of the field he began to make progress down the back straight sneaked round on the inner in the home straight and put in his best work at the finish.
Ralph saddled Mervyn Davies Churchtown Girl in Division II of this race and she put in a great performance and looked the winner until caught in the dying strides by Merchant House.
It doesn’t happen very often but all 15 horses entries meet their engagements so with a safety limit of 14 the race had to be sub-divided.
Churchtown Girl ran in the first part and was held up just behind the leaders until James King sent his mount up to dispute the lead with Schiap Hill with half a mile to run.
Churchtown Girl (yellow and blue) is getting the better of Schiap Hill (red and blue). The eventual winner Merchant House (beige and maroon) still has a lot of ground to make up
They got the better of the favourite entering the final two furlongs, but Jo Supple produced Merchant House with a well-timed run to squeeze between her rivals on the run in to score a narrow victory.
The 3 mile 6 furlong Conditions race looked tailor made for Iberico but in his absence the race produced a worthy winner in the shape of The Dapper Fox. Jack Veysey sent his mount into a race winning lead on the final circuit and this manoeuvre took his rivals by surprise and they struggled to claw back the deficit in the final half of the race.
The Dapper Fox clears the last to claim the Conditions
Julie Mansell’s Celtic Intrigue was returning from a 2-1/2 year absence and looked a little ring rusty but stayed on well to claim third spot.
The Hasfield trainer saddled Murray Mount for the Daly family in the Mixed Open but he was never seen with a chance eventually pulling up while Sacre Toi was prominent for the first circuit in the Novice Riders before fading out of contention.
Tommie O’Brien and Byron Moorcroft both rode winners at Clifton on Dunsmore so the first page of the Mens Championship has an unfamiliar look to it at present but will no doubt change as the season progresses.
Below – Woodbrook Boy (Nearside) and Bridge of Cally fight out the finish of the 2-1/2 mile Maiden
Truly Spoken lands the Mares Maiden at the expense of Roseisaroseisarose
Photo’s – Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell