The season is drawing to a close so the past week has been one of the quieter periods as far as West Midland winners are concerned.
The Area did enjoy some success during last week’s meeting at Cothelstone, and this was followed by victories for local horses and jockeys at Thursday’s Hunter Chase fixture at Fontwell.
Uppertown Hawk has been raced sparingly so far this season due to his preference for firmer conditions but he is always a force to be reckoned when the ground is in his favour.
Shantou Tiger was installed as favourite for the Weston & Banwell Harriers Men’s Open but Sam Jukes knows what tactics work with Uppertown Hawk so he sent him to the front soon after the start and they were 20-lengths clear at one point.
The favourite started to fell the strain four fences from home and with Uppertown Hawk showing no signs of stopping and throwing in some prodigious leaps, Clive Bennetts runner saw off the challenges of Mont Choisy and Miteballforluck in the home straight.
Uppertown Hawk wins the Mens Open with a fine leap at the last, while his rival Mount Choisy is less fluent (photo courtesy of Tim Sage)
The second division of the Maiden went to the Sophie Lacey trained 4-year-old, Enchancia who like a majority of the stables runners in these races headed the market. Despite making his racecourse debut he settled in the middle of the field but was being driven along to stay in touch at the third from home.
The partnership continued to reel in their rivals in the straight and quickened past them on the flat for an easy win.
The Ladies’ Open saw the Maisemore winner Bankhall prevail from Western Diva and Ni Sin E Mo Ainm. The first two had stolen a march on their rival on the home turn and Bankhall looked set for third place until outstaying the opposition on the run to the line. Jockey Emma Jones who is based with Matt and Nickie Sheppard at Eastnor explained afterwards “everyone wanted to make the running, so I just tried to keep out of trouble”.
Western Diva (pink) leads Bankhall in the Ladies Open (photo courtesy of Tim Sage)
The following evening at Fontwell, Upton on Severn based Emma Yardley teamed up with Steven Astaire’s Andoversford winner Kimora to take the Mares Hunter Chase. The partnership hit the front with two to jump and stayed on bravely to repel the challenge of the favourite as they raced towards the judge.
Those who had seen Bally River Boy’s performance at Maisemore Park earlier in the week and played up their winnings were rewarded after the horses victory in the Guy Peate Hunter Chase.
It is fair to say this success was down to a brilliant piece of riding from Ally Stirling who performed wonders to maintain the partnership when she lost an iron and the horse went left at the course junction after the 6th.
They were soon back on even keel and just had sufficient reserves to see off the challenge of Just Cause in the home straight.
Miss Stirling has spoken about retiring at the end of the season and if so she will go out on a high as she appears to have an unassailable lead in the West Midland Area Ladies Championship.
The area enjoyed a solitary success during the Golden Valley fixture at Bredwardine on Saturday afternoon and that came courtesy of Bill Hawkins’s Rockinrolldixie in the Conditions.
Alex Edwards was content to let others cut out the donkey work, before taking his mount to the front at the 12th. They soon established a winning lead and had the race in safe keeping between the final two fences. The Diana Ralph trained gelding won easily despite being eased right down on the flat.
Rockinrolldixie and Alex Edwards score an easy win in the Conditions
The owner said afterwards “the ground is the key to that win” and he must be right because the horse has shown vastly improved form since conditions have dried up.
Owner Bill Hawkins picks up the silverware
Droitwich trainer Max Young had a day of mixed fortunes with Green Winter dropping off the pace down the back straight in the Mens Open. Zac Baker never gave up and Green Winter kept responding and was closing on Pink Eyed Pedro in the home straight but was still half a length adrift at the post.
Half way in the Mens Open and Green Winter (stripped colours) is well to the fore along with the eventual winner Pink Eyed Pedro (black and red). The wing is falling apart after Pantxoa ducked out and deposited Jacob Pritchard Webb on the ground
Owner Sarah Oliver gained compensation later in the afternoon after Black Frosts win in the Maiden. He too dropped off the pace at the 12th but made up ground to contest the lead a few fences later and gaining a well-deserved success on his racecourse debut.
Black Frost eases clear of the favourite Orchard Lane on the flat – winning connections in the paddock
Round Robin added another placed effort to his tally in the concluding Maiden. He led until passed by the favourite Free Scorpion at the 15th and one again had his limitations exposed at the finish.
Local stables gained a couple of placed efforts during the Grafton fixture at Edgecote, but in both cases the horses efforts may have been thwarted by inconsistences in the watering policy.
Joey Kangaroo looked as though he was going to cause a surprise in the Intermediate when he hit the front at the 12th, but softer conditions on this part of the course followed by a steady climb over the final three fences, gave the favourite Benefit of Luck a chance to put his stamina to good use and he passed his rival over the final two fences.
Joey Kangaroo and Dave Mansell have to give best to Benefit of Luck as they climb towards the judge
Geoff Barfoot Saunt and First Goodnight were another partnership who found conditions more testing than they were expecting and they were also found out on the climb to the post.
Geoff Barfoot Saunt and First Goodnight (green) are poised on the leaders heels at half way
Thomas Murray and Gabriel the Great had beaten Magic Music Man by 30-lengths at Bitterley but challenged by Loch Inch from the start this pairing may have cut one another’s throats because neither had anything left in reserve when Alex Edwards produced Magic Music Man to claim the spoils during the closing stages of the Mixed Open at Tabley.