Yorkshire was my destination as today was Towton Novices Chase Day at Wetherby,although it was also dubbed Irish Day which meant a marquee with Guinness on tap (Other Stouts available) and a band doing the traditional fiddly de music which is all racecourses seem to think you need.
Anyway a seven race card and some fair quality on show and the crowd was a very sparse one for a Saturday, no doubt many looked at the weather last Sunday and decided to make alternative arrangements for the day.
Race One was a fairly competitive Handicap Hurdle over 2m and this went the way of the improving Billy Twyford, trained by Lawney Hill and only having his second start for her managed to get up on the line to win by the shortest of short heads to overpower Shammick Boy who was always in the van guard and was unlucky to lose but deserves another go at some point, The winner looks decent and will probably be better going up in trip to 2m4f soon.
Race Two was the Wilmot-Smith Memorial Cup Hunter Chase, only the seven for this and the victor was Palypso de Creek,trained by Mrs Jane Dawson and ridden by Clare Hart jumped well to begin with then made a real Horlicks at the eighth and lost some ground but the rider never panicked and put him back in going down the back straight to eventually run out a 13 length winner over Benefit Night, The Foxhunters at Cheltenham will beckon now for this horse but he has gone over the big greens at Aintree in a Becher Chase so that could also be in the pipeline should anything get in the way before hand.
On to Race Three now and this was a 2m6f Novice Hurdle for stayers and a real gutsy staying performance from Seebright, a winner of a bumper at Chepstow last month he showed his toughness and durability to overhaul the big favourite Big Society by just over 2.5 lengths, Victor Dartnell has had a tough winter this season but Seebright could be the horse who will bring better fortunes to him, No idea where he will head to next but next season Seebright could well end up going over the bigger obstacles. Back in fourth was Chestertern for Jennie Candlish and this was his third start so will now end up going handicapping and will be interesting to see what his rating will be.
Fourth race of the day was long distance Handicap Hurdle over 3m1f and pardon my French but their could have been a few jockey bollockings after this race, From the start Kayf Aramis,Pause and Clause and eventual winner Herdsman set off and made the running and for a good while they were over 20 lengths clear of the other four rivals and it was only the eventual runner up the mare Tweedledrum who came from out of the pack to challenge the winner and went down by a neck in defeat to Herdsman,trained in Bingley by Sue Smith and owned by Trevor Hemmings, he may not be the classiest horse but showed heart and guts to hang on, The most interesting performance was by Kayf Aramis who traveled well to begin with then wanted to pull himself up going out on the second circuit then went and blundered the second last when still in contention and finished an honourable third.
The Fifth and feature race was the Grade Two Towton Novices Chase over 3m1f,today was the thirteenth running of this event and while it always gets a single figure field it is still a race which produces quality horses such as former Welsh National winner Halcon Generlardais,previous Charlie Hall winner Ollie Magern and Keen Leader who was a real favourite of mine are on the roll of honour.
The 2013 renewal went to a chasing debutant in Goulanes from David Pipes yard and driven out by Tom Scudamore who made up an amazing three lengths on the run in to deny Super Duty from the Donald McCain yard by a head, the winner needed every yard of this distance where as Super Duty probably will be suited by a return to 2m4f but both horses are 7yo and have plenty good days infront of them, back in third was Fentara who could end up going for the Four Miler at the Festival but she has earned some useful Black Type by getting placed in this contest,The only faller of the day was Fill the Power who got a good mention in my Warwick write up, he came back safe and I would hope they consider the Scottish National with him.
As for the first and second expect the RSA Chase and Jewson Novices being targets next month for them, although David Pipe has Dynaste for the RSA so he has two useful and quality horses to do battle with as the jumps season slowly approaches the business end.
Race Six was a decent looking 2m4f Handicap Chase albeit with a few out of form and Cloudy Too gave Sue Smith her second winner of the day under a nice ride from Timmy Murphy, a real quality horseman when it comes to giving a horse a hold up ride and taken very wide throughout the race for fresher turf he ran out a ready winner to beat Dunowen Point by 3.5 lengths with Lease Lend who seems to do all his racing at Wetherby back in third, the first two will probably end up going for big festival handicaps and could still have improvement in them, possibly the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury next month would be races to be targeted for the pair.
Race Seven was the last race of the day and it was a National Hunt flat race over 2m and the main horse was the David Pipe trained 4yo Baltimore Rock, a winner at Bangor on debut for Peter Niven he was subsequently bought for £130,000 and sent to David Pipe, he had some opposition in this race the most notable one being Dakar Run from Richard Fahey who in turn was formerly trained in Newmarket by Luca Cumani but never made it to the course so ended up at the sales and now lives in a new stable in Malton.
The race went to debutant Dakar Run who travelled well in the race and saw off Baltimore Rock by 4.5 lengths and showed a useful turn of foot, The second horse ran well but giving the winner 7lbs he could not live with him on the run in, I would imagine the Aintree bumper for the winner but being a 4yo I would not be surprised if Richard Fahey ran him on the flat in the summer and stick him in a few middle distance maidens to begin with before having a hurdles career later on.
So a good days jump racing then, some nice performances and the crowd were treated to some cracking finishes and for someone who has been denied any racing for the last two Saturdays it was great to be out on course and in the open air for the afternoon.