Until a few weeks ago all of this seasons racing has favoured horses with a preference for softer conditions, but that has changed and horses who prefer a sounder surface are now coming into their own resulting in some long-priced winners.
Mark Wilesmith’s Jack’s Ranger has proved frustrating for connections as he has previously performed well without winning, but that situation was rectified with a brave front running display in the Radnor and West Herefordshire Maiden at Cold Harbour on Sunday afternoon.
Described in the race card as “a fifth season 9-year-old” not many of them open their accounts at this stage of their careers.
On his seasonal debut the winner was in front from flag fall and attacked his fences with gusto, leading the field a merry dance until making his only mistake of the race at the twelfth.
The partnership recovered quickly from this mishap and were soon back at the head of the field with the opposition queuing up to challenge as they disappeared into the poplars at the far end of the course.
The well backed The Triple Pillar from Sophie Lacey’s stable made his effort over the final two fences but struggled to get on terms with the winner in the last couple of furlongs and Jacks Ranger kept up his relentless gallop to prevail by 3-lengths.
Jacks Ranger and Mark Wilesmith see off the challenge of The Triple Pillar and Tekap
On his return to the winner’s enclosure the Upton-upon-Severn based owner/trainer/rider said “The horse made it easy for me. We have a new regime at home this year and it has transformed this horse”. Explaining the horses bad mistake at the 12th, the rider put that down to confused signals “I usually give him a kick in the belly and he attacks his fences, but I didn’t at that particular obstacle, but I did at the rest”.
The Wilesmith family in the winners enclosure
The Confined resulted in an emotional victory for the Clive Bennett owned The Well Road, who fought back gallantly after being headed by Mirs Choice in the home straight.
As reported elsewhere Bennett’s wife Eileen passed away a few weeks ago. This was the stables first success since then for the Dymock based owner and trainer Sam Jukes.
The Well Road and Sam Jukes (left) start off up the run in, while Emitaad is just about to fall at the last
The Well Road set the pace until passed by Mirs Choice as they turned back towards home and these two rivals had seen off the challenge of the favourite Emitaad who departed at the last.
Jukes knew his mount would keep responding to pressure, so asked for another effort and the gelding responded catching Mirs Choice in the final 25 yards.
Clive Bennett and Sam Jukes after The Well Roads success
Things went downhill for connections after that, with Marcle Ridge losing his chance in the Maiden after being left at the start, while Chasforgold was never jumping with any fluency and was beaten a long way from home in the 4-mile Crudwell Cup.
Green Winter was installed as favourite for this marathon contest on the strength of his two previous victories in the race, and with his stamina not in doubt Zac Baker sent him to the front from the start.
Green Winter (nearside) leads Ballyrath with a circuit to go in the Crudwell Cup
After two circuits, James King and Ballyrath took over the leader’s baton and was 6-lengths clear at one point but a mistake at the fourth from home dented his chances and Green Winter stormed into the lead in the home straight to prevail by 10-lengths.
Green Winter strides clear of his rival on the flat
Winning owner Sarah Oliver confided afterwards “He loves it here, he was so full of himself when he arrived at the course”, while the winning jockey expressed he was “concerned when passed by Ballyrath” but his mount was soon back on level terms.
Zac Baker and Sarah Oliver are all smiles after Green Winters third success in the big race
This ended a good weekend for connections because 24 hours earlier Droitwich trainer Max Young, owner Sarah Oliver and jockey Zac Baker had travelled down to Hampshire where Templebraden had prevailed in another marathon contest, the 3-1/2 mile Mens Open at Hackwood Park.
Showmetheway carried the Bennett colours in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden, but the 5-year-old mare is still learning the trade and was always well in arrears until making some late progress.
The finish of this race concerned the odds on favourite Mr Knowitall and the unconsidered outsider Buffalo Sabre. These two horses battled it out over the final half mile with the result in doubt until the last.
Mr Knowitall seemed to have assumed command with a good jump at the penultimate, but Zac Baker was getting a response from Buffalo Sabre and his mount was a stride quicker away from the final obstacle and that proved crucial on the run to the line.
This was a set back for the title chasing Phil Rowley and Alex Edwards but merely a temporary halt to their winning run and none of their rivals were able to take advantage of the situation.
The partnership had taken the Members Race earlier in the afternoon with the odds on favourite Namako, but their representative in the Restricted Gadrose had to settle for the runners up spot behind Heated Debate and this evidence she might be seen to great effect over a 3 mile trip.
Heated Debate (white cap) scores for Fran Nimmo closely followed by Sham from Milan (right) while Gadrose (straw colours) is just behind
Worcestershire based Sarah Bowen had a frustrating afternoon because after being touched off close home in the Confined, her mount Expanding Universe suffered a similar fate in the Ladies.
Claire Hardwicks and Kazuri Kate set a strong pace from the start of the Ladies Open, but Vinnie Red made a forward move down the back straight and looked poised to challenge until running out at the fourth from home. Expanding Universe never gave up the chase but Kazuri Kate ran out a worthy winner.
The Novice Riders race at Dingley resulted in a first victory for Jacob Pritchard Webb on the Linda Delahook trained Pantoxa who kept up the gallop during the second circuit to score their first success.
1st Namako A Edwards 1-4 fav
1st The Well Road S Jukes 9-4
1st Kazuri Kate Mrs C Hardwick 7-4
1st Jacks Ranger M Wilesmith 16-1
1st Green Winter Z Baker Evens fav
1st Heated Debate Miss A Stevens 3-1
2-1/2 mile Maiden
1st Buffalo Sabre Z Baker 20-1