This weekend the Zetland held their meeting at Witton Castle near Bishop Auckland and even with the recent dry spell organisers did a fantastic job at watering with jockeys describing conditions on the soft side of good, with one rider describing the ground as “beautiful” and credit goes to clerk of the course Stuart Gibbon for his efforts and there were also plenty of happy trainers “Both William and I agreed we had absolutely made the right decision not to run on Sunday – the ground was so much better at Witton” said Louise Bevin who sent Wayupinthebox north for better ground, despite some gloomy weather a good crowd turned out for an exciting days racing. One yard who was in flying form was that of Cherry Coward who saddled three runners, which resulted in three winners.
By far the most exciting race of the day was the Ladies Open which went the way of Wizadora partnered by current leading lady and lady novice Kate Lowcock for Cherry Coward. The pair looked unlikely winners on the approach to three out looking to be booked for a well held fourth, however a determined Kate saw the pair gradually pick off rivals and with a spirited run mowed down eventual runner ups Winged Crusader and Greyed A on the run to the last and win like a fresh horse “I thought I was going to pull up down the back straight and then I thought she might be fourth and once she passed one she thought…I’m having it!” laughed Kate who admitted she shared the game attitude of the mare who was recording her fifth course success. Kate continues to excel at the moment and aswell as leading the Yorkshire championships, is now at the head of affairs for the national novice titles. Second place went to Winged Crusader and Amy Waugh whose string of wins came to an end, whilst third went to Greyed A under Lottie Crane and was making a pleasing point to point debut.
Coward’s continued with their treble in the opening Conditions race aboard Game As A Pheasant and it was a welcome return to the winners enclosure for rider Jack Andrews, the pair made all the running and stayed on well to hold off Hollow Tree and Christy Furness in second, whilst Roll The Dice and Will Milburn were not far way in third. It was Jack’s first winner back in the saddle after breaking his leg at Wetherby on the 4th of January, Jack broke his femur and had to have a rod put in, but after four months on the sidelines and a lot of time spent at Jack Berry House has nursed him back to health, one winner wasn’t enough though for Jack and this would be the start of a double.
The second of Jack’s wins came in the Intermediate race and would go the way of previous dual course winner Royal Chant again trained by Cherry Coward, the odds on favourite always looked in command and his task was made easier when Wayupinthebox unseated two out when in the lead under Rory Bevin and was allowed to quicken away hard on the bridle. Second place went to Danny Mags and Ross Wilson, whilst Afterclass came home in third. It was a third course win for Royal Chant and the second victory of the season and Jack wasn’t shy about the respect he holds the winner in “I think he’s very good, he’ll be winning hunter chases next season” said Andrews.
The Open Maiden attracted four runners but resulted in an exciting finish, the Pete Fahey trained 4yo Byland Abbey took the race under John Dawson, the pair looked novicey in the early stages but after warming to the task quickened clear after the last to win a shade cosy, Clashganny has run some solid efforts in maiden company this season and sets a decent standard back in second under Will Easterby, whilst Jack Teal steered Fahey’s second runner Euro Fou home in third. It was the second start over the weekend for the winner after pulling up only two days prior “he was just too green so we saved him for this race…he’ll head to the sales now” said Fahey of the imposing 4yo who is brother to the useful Cultram Abbey who is trained by Nicky Richards.
The Men’s Open saw an emphatic victory from the Guy Brewer trained Dark Mahler under Joe Wright, the pair stalked leader Sposalizio until after the second last and after giving him his head quickly sprinted clear in impressive style to win eased down, Sposalizio finished second under Tom Strawson and these were the only two finishers.