CHADDESLEY Corbett is proving a happy hunting ground for Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley as he followed up his treble at the previous meeting by saddling Grandturgeon to land the Men’s Open on Sunday afternoon.
Rowley took control of the ten-year-old’s training after Jane William’s retirement and this looked his stiffest task to date but one which he came through with flying colours in the Albrighton & Woodland (North) event.
Conditions at the Worcestershire venue were testing after recent rain but that probably played to Grandturgeon’s strengths so Alex Edward was content to let Loch Ba set the pace until the local partnership made a forward move at the start of the second circuit.
Minerfortyniner had been prominent up to this point began to feel the pace, while Iberico and Sam Jukes also moved into contention, with Awesome George still going well in third place albeit four-lengths behind the leaders.
Lock Ba and Grandturgeon continued to battle for the lead with the favourite finally getting the measure of his rival on the climb into the home straight, at which point Awesome George began to beat a retreat and was pulled up soon afterwards.
Grandturgeon had complete control of the race over the final two fences, while Loch Ba defied all Sam Jukes efforts on Iberico to retain second place on the flat.
The unpredictability of racing over steeplechase fences was evident in the Skinners sponsored Ladies Open, when Executive Benefit refused at the last with the race at his mercy.
Local favourite Horsham Lad was one of the first off the bridle when he was bumped along to stay in touch with the leaders at halfway, where the field were struggling to keep up with the strong pace set by Goodnight Vienna.
As they straightened up for the judge Executive Benefit opened up an unassailable lead, with Goodnight Vienna and Horsham Lad both left trailing in the mares wake.
About 50 yards from the final obstacle the leader began to shorten her stride but still had a substantial lead which should have been enough to claim victory if she could safely negotiate the last fence.
Unfortunately for connections she could not retain sufficient impetuous to get over this obstacle and refused.
Horsham Lad and Goodnight Vienna fought out a slow motion finish with the former’s stamina kicking in on the flat, which provided an unexpected success for owner/rider Josephine Banks and trainer Alistair Ralph.
William and Angela Rucker were out of luck with their runners earlier in the afternoon but finally made it into the winner’s enclosure following In the Holds success in the three-mile Maiden.
Sunglasses Ron and Tara More set the pace and while the latter dropped out of contention down the back straight the former continued to set his rivals a merry dance and pulled out extra every time he was challenged.
As it has done so many times in the past, the uphill climb into the home straight proved decisive with In the Hold quickening past his rivals to lead on the home turn but Captain Kennit was not going to lay down without a fight.
Having established a five-length advantage at the penultimate Conor Orr’s mount quickened again and had the race in safe keeping approaching the last, but horse and jockey were victims of miscommunication which resulted in the leader just managing to scramble over the final obstacle.
They lost all momentum but were soon back on an even keel and won by 25-lengths despite this mishap.
The Stowaway gelding had shown form on the heavy in the past and seemed to revel in the conditions.
He was brought by connections in 2013, but struggled to make an impact with Evan Williams but could be the type to run up a sequence between the flags.
West Wales trainer David Brace won the first two races with horses bred from one of the resident stallions at his Dunraven Stud Dr Massini.
Doc Cody had finished second at the previous meeting on this course and was confidently expected to follow up in the two-and-a-half mile Maiden although two newcomers Taken By Force (Tom Weston) and Where’s Cherry (Fergal O’Brien) were also well supported.
Where’s Cherry proved a disappointment, whereas Taken By Force ran well but was unable to match Doc Cody’s finishing speed over the final two fences.
Having produced Brace’s runner with a strong late run to claim the first race, jockey Bradley Gibbs adopted completely different tactics in the two-and-a-half mile Restricted.
Colorado Doc set out to make every post a winning one and had established a ten-length lead over The Well Road with half a mile to run.
The leader kept up his relentless gallop and had all his rivals in trouble turning for home with the jockey was looking round for non-existent dangers between the final two fences.
These two winners for the Welsh were matched by West Country based runners with Blazing Whale taking the Novice Riders under Abbie Hughes whilst Will Biddick steered Atthreeothree to victory in the Red Mills sponsored Intermediate.
Hughes, 28, rode the perfect race on Blazing Whale who looked to have it all to do as the runners set out onto their second circuit.
Slowly but surely they eased their way into contention before hitting the front at the second from home and maintaining their advantage all the way to the judge.
Bingo Star made a bold bid to repeat December’s course victory but in the end had to give best to Will Biddick on Atthreeothree.
Biddick was exuding confidence as they turned for home but Jack Andrews continued to get a response from the leader before Biddicks mount eased clear approaching the last and had far more in hand than the official margin indicates.