Wetherby can normally be a cold place to be during the height of the jumps season but yesterday the West Yorkshire venue passed its first ever Saturday meeting test very easily with conditions that racegoers at York or Ripon are more used to seeing as the sun shone down on a beautiful afternoon.
Traditionally the tricky titled Thirsk Hunt Cup is as you expect run at Thirsk but due to the Tour De Yorkshire cycling race being routed through the town centre in Herriot territory it was decided to swap the meeting with Wetherby and let them have what was for now the classiest flat race to be run at a course more known for seeing the likes of Cue Card,Bristol De Mai and this years Gold Cup winner Native River strut their stuff.
In seasonably warm May weather a hearty crowd turned up for some flat action, it was so warm here that your intrepid reporter even had to have an ice cream, not something you normally associate with this place at all!
The feature contest, The totesport.com Hunt Cup over 1 mile went to Newmarket based Yorkshireman William Haggas as 4yo Original Choice bounced right back from a poor showing on heavy ground at Doncaster on the opening day of the season in the Spring Mile to land this £20256 first prize under Ben Curtis to just hold on from Hayadh of Rebecca Bastiman.
This was a decent renewal of a well regarded northern handicap and Original Choice should be capable of improving a bit more this summer, landing this off 94 hopefully the handicapper won’t overreact with him, after landing this Hunt Cup then it’s just possible that the Royal Ascot one will be at the forefront of the owners and a chance to hire out some Morning Dress!
As for the supporting card the middle distant division provided some useful races.
First up in the 1m2f handicap for 3yo (0-85) trainer Jamie Osborne landed a bit of an upset to punters with Mr Reckless who got the better of favourite Istanbul Sultan who ironically here at Wetherby was running in the Munir-Souede colours and already a gelding he might be back in November for the Wensleydale Hurdle, Mr Reckless had a win on the sand to his name and making his handicap debut he looks useful enough.
Richard Hannon did a smash and grab job from the Yorkshire trainers in the 7f Fillies’ Handicap with Pepita under useful Apprentice Rossa Ryan (5), she came here already a winner on the turf last season and could be aimed at bigger targets at some point.
Two divisions of the 1m2f Novice Stakes provided some informative performances, in division one Fujaira Prince from Roger Varian’s easily landed the odds when coasting home by six lengths from Helibou Bareliere, clearly connections think he has plenty to offer at 4 and he is one to keep an eye on when he gets a mark.Division two probably looked the stronger division of the pair and the former Dermot Weld trained Titus on debut for Declan Carroll saw off the two market protagonists Saroog and Alwaysandforever by a couple of lengths, a previous winner in the past he used his experience to good knowledge proved his ability back up in distance this afternoon, he should be winning more and rated 85 is on a more than workable mark.
In all fairness Wetherby has proved to be a good venue to hold flat racing and hosting this meeting today proved that the people charge made a right choice when they chose to have a go at doing it.
Maybe in the future other courses might reciprocate this, Pontefract,Ripon and Redcar would be ideal for experimenting with an occasional hurdle race in the future?
It was good to be back on the flat, last seasons jumps was good but a high percentage of the race meetings done were cold,wet and more often than not rain affected.
Next up we head to Haydock this coming Saturday for the first big race of the new National Hunt Season, The Swinton Hurdle then a few days later it’s back over the border and off to York for the opening day of the season.
Till next time, Goodbye.