by Lucy Russell-Hughes

DESPITE a battalion of Ryedale runners contesting last Saturday’s prestigious Great St Wilfrid Sprint Handicap at Ripon, the locals couldn’t claim the prize. It did however remain in the North when Dakota Gold landed the spoils for Darlington trainer Michael Dods.

Ridden to victory by jockey Connor Beasley, the consistent sprinter defied favouritism to win by two and a quarter lengths from David O’Meara’s Summerghand. Nigel Tinkler’s Citron Major took third spot to continue his rich vein of form, having won last time out at Windsor.

O’Meara’s other runner Muscika came home in fourth with Tim Easterby’s Staxton behind in fifth.

Aside from the feature race there was local success for the master of Musley Bank, Richard Fahey, who saddled a double at the garden racecourse and another winner at Doncaster’s Saturday meeting, to make it an across the card treble.

The ultra-consistent and evergreen Growl took the Silver Trophy Handicap at Ripon (a consolation race for the Great St Wilfrid) for Fahey and long serving owner Doctor Marwan Koukash.

Jockey Tony Hamilton was doing the steering and he said: “He’s not won for a while and he’s tumbled down the handicap as a consequence.

"He’s had to do it the hard way, because he’s a horse that doesn’t like to get there too soon, but I just rode him to the line and the result has come our way so happy days.”

Shortly after Hamilton and Fahey teamed up again, winning the Ripon Hornblower Conditions Stakes for two-year-olds, when Ventura Lightning overcame a battle with the Mark Johnston trained Eton College to win comprehensively.

It was an impressive performance from the Middleham Park owned colt to make it two wins from two starts in his short career so far.

“He was a little bit keen early on but other than that he was professional. He’s won well and he’s going the right way. He will be given a fair enough rating so you have to look towards those posh races so we will then see how good he is,” said jockey Hamilton in the winners enclosure.

Delph Crescent was Fahey’s third and final winner on the day when landing the Apprentice Handicap in the hands of young female jockey Paula Muir.

Another local trainer to have a taste of Saturday success was Westow-based trainer Paul Midgley. Renowned for training and keeping sprinters at the top of the game, Midgley highlighted this again when he sent out Orvar to land back to back wins in Doncaster’s five furlong class 3 handicap.

Last year the six-year-old was partnered to victory on Town Moor by Phillip Makin who is now plying his trade successfully as a trainer.

“I was always comfortable watching the race and I always knew he was going to win from a way out,” said Midgley of Orvar.

“He’s entered for York on Wednesday. Final Venture is also entered and he is in great form, he ran a tremendous race at Ascot the other day, so hopefully one of them will win” he added.

PERFECTION landed a Listed prize at Pontefract on Sunday for Upper Helmsley trainer David O’Meara. The Cheveley Park owned filly was a deserving winner of the six furlong contest in the very capable hands of Silvestre De Sousa.

Formerly trained by Newmarket genius John Gosden, the daughter of Dutch Art has been running some smart races in defeat this year. Cheveley Park Bloodstock Manager Mathew Sigsworth was delighted with the result.

“She thoroughly deserved it. She’s been second in three Group 3’s already this year, so it’s great to see her get her head back in front,” he said.

Kevin Ryan was also amongst the winners on the card when he saddled the promising juvenile Queen’s Order to her first victory in the Trevor Woods Memorial British EBF Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) over the minimum trip.

Owned by Clipper Logistics and ridden by Championship chasing jockey Daniel Tudhope, Queen’s Order showed bright early speed away from the stalls and never saw another rival. She has some smart entries and is another exciting youngster for the yard who are operating at a very healthy strike rate of 29 per cent with all their horses.

LOOKING ahead to the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, there are plenty of Ryedale entries that hold excellent chances.

Amongst the challengers are Royal Ascot Queen Anne winner Lord Glitters who will be lining up in the Group 1 Juddmonte International on today's opening day.

His trainer O’Meara is optimistic. “We are under no illusion it’s a tough race and he’s got quite a bit to find with the likes of Crystal Ocean, but he’s in great form and the fact he’s won at York is another tick in his box,” he said.

A handful of exciting two-year-olds will contest Wednesday’s Acomb Stakes including Richard Fahey’s Valdermoro, John Quinn’s Goodwood winner Cobra Eye and the aptly named Yorkshire Gold for the Kevin Ryan stable.

Liberty Beach will take her chance in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes on Thursday and regular pilot Jason Hart is relishing the opportunity of riding the talented filly on the Knavesmire. “She has got a great attitude, a very good mind and she’s a quiet filly. She only really comes alive when the gates open. It’s great to go racing when you’re riding a horse like her,” he said.

Tim Easterby is set to saddle his four time course and distance winner Copper Knight in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday. Bought by Tim’s son William for just £5,000gns at the October 2016 horses in training sale, Copper Knight has proved a bargain buy having landed several big race handicaps and also this year’s Listed City Walls Stakes.

Among other leading fancies from Easterby’s Great Habton yard is Wells Farhh Go who takes his chance in the £1m Sky Bet Ebor.

This year’s renewal is ultra-competitive with Easterby looking to win the race 40 years after his father Peter saddled Sea Pigeon to a famous victory.

The yard however couldn’t be in better form when a treble was landed on Monday’s card at Catterick. Perhaps the most welcome winner was Our Charlie Brown for Easterby and the Ontoawinner Partnership when the five-year-old gelding recorded his fourth course and distance win.

ONE of Michael Easterby’s yard stalwarts Perfect Pasture has retired from racing at the age of nine.

A 13-time winner he amassed just under £200,000 in prize money and relished the soft ground conditions when others toiled behind him. He will live with co-owner Steve Hollings and will be a riding horse for his daughter Jo.

East Yorkshire trainer Harriet Bethell is reported to have come through a successful operation following a serious head injury from a recent fall on the gallops.

Her father William Bethell has taken over the training license at her yard near Beverley and the Yorkshire racing community continue to wish her a full recovery.