A DRIZZLY, misty day did nothing to dampen an exciting atmosphere at Dingley racecourse when it launched its new point-to-point season Saturday.
A total of 54 runners contested the seven races on ground officially given as good, good to soft in places.
As usual, the excellent organisation and preparation by the Woodland Pytchley meeting and Dingley team paid off as a huge crowd enjoyed an afternoon of highly competitive racing, alongside a multitude of trade stands and entertainment.
It was certainly an excellent afternoon for favourite backers as they saw five from seven pay out, including a double for Dale Peters. Fans of Gerald Bailey were also rewarded; both the penultimate and the final race were taken by inmates of his Holdenby yard.
All five entries were declared for the Woodland Pytchley and Fernie Hunt Members’ race, sponsored by Typestart Printing. Previous course winner Point Proven, ridden by Dale Peters, was always travelling well; the favourite – owned and trained by James Hunt - cruised to a 12-length victory over early leader Spare Change, with Davids City back in third.
In-form Rumbavu took the second race, the Confined, sponsored by King West, but not without a fight; the Annie Connell-trained Exceptionnel matched the six-year-old stride for stride at nearly every stage. After a blunder at the 15th fence, Rumbavu’s excellent record this season was looking in jeopardy, but a fine recovery from Sam Waley-Cohen meant he was still well in contention at the last.
This race produced the most exciting finish of the day, with just over a length separating the first three home; Exceptionnel was pipped to the post for second by strong finisher Duke of Kentford. Winning owner Robert Waley-Cohen was thrilled with the victory, saying: “It’s Rumbavu’s seventh run this season and he’s had four wins, two seconds and a third; he’s improving all the time, coming up through the ranks and proving what a good horse he is.”
Having taken the first race, Peters’ double came in the two-mile four-furlong Open Maiden for four, five, six and seven-year-olds, sponsored by Berrys. The race got off to a flying start with Cadagua taking an early lead, but favourite Realt Ag Leimt took hold of the race after the seventh and never looked back, holding off a late challenge from Done A Runner. Peters later admitted that the ride on Realt Ag Leimt was one of the main reasons for him being at Dingley; he certainly made the right decision, as his trip from Cambridgeshire resulted in two wins and a second place on the day.
Winner of the corresponding race here last season, the consistent pointer Shillingstone again showed his class in the Mixed Open, sponsored by Hows Racesafe. Under a fine ride by George Greenock, the ten-year-old tracked the early leader Kornati Kid – who had taken a ten-length lead after the first circuit – and took the lead at the 14th. In another close finish, the favourite held on well on the flat to win by about a length from Kornati Kid.
The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members race for novice riders provided a first win for 16-year-old jockey Dominic Sutton on board Unleash, trained for his father Nick by Kim Smyly. Brought out of retirement to act as Dominic’s schoolmaster, Unleash certainly made the most of his opportunity. Drawing clear approaching the last after taking the lead three out, the 13-year-old looked an easy winner, beating Reelwill by 12 lengths; Duke Of Stradone, who caused the only false start of the day, finished in third.
The Gerald Bailey-trained Sandpipers took the seven runner Restricted race, sponsored by Openfield, having lost his maiden tag at Garthorpe just two weeks earlier. Despite stiff competition from favourite Rich Live and early leader Newnham Rambo (finishing second and third respectively), the seven-year-old, ridden by Alex Vaughan-Jones, stayed on well at the finish to hold on to the lead he had snatched at the penultimate fence.
Following hot on the heels of that victory, another Bailey-trained runner, Empire Builder, took the spoils in the final race of the day, the Open Maiden sponsored by Camgrain.
Unlike Sandpipers, Empire Builder was sent off favourite under George Greenock – also looking for his second win that afternoon. After a steady start, the six-year-old took the lead at the tenth and survived pressure from the second placed I’llhavealook (and a treble-chasing Dale Peters), just finding that little bit extra on the flat to come home in front.
The next meeting at Dingley is the Fernie on Sunday, May 6, with the first race at 2pm.
Point-to-pointing also returns to Northamptonshire’s Guilsborough course this Sunday, as the Pytchley Hunt’s seven-race card promises more top quality action between the flags.
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Weather for Market Harborough
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: South west