The Midlands Area season drew to a close with a rearranged evening meeting hosted by the Woodland Pytchley at Dingley.
There was all to play for at the top of the Midlands Area Championships, especially in the Gentleman Jockey section where Dale Peters had several rides with which to overtake Philip Armson in the overall standings.
Peters started the evening with a bang by winning the opener, the Hunt Members' race, with Toby Hunt's Done A Runner. Although they started as big odds-on favourites, there were times when 8/1 shot High Hopper, the mount of Rory Bevin, might have worried them over the last mile. High Hopper eventually finished second by three lengths or so, with Knowwhentofoldem back in third.
The Maiden for younger horses which followed was an attritional race, with only three of the eight runners completing the course. Halloween Harry (Zac Baker) took the spoils in this one, beating Fenjack (Jack Andrews) by a length. Both seemed to have a chance approaching the last but the winner had more to give on the run-in. Third went to Linkenholt, the leader for large parts of the race, who dropped off in the final stages.
The Ladies' Open provided an excellent finish, with three horses crossing the line within a couple of lengths of each other. Much of the running had been done by Can Mestret (Gina Andrews), who had led from the end of the first lap until headed on the run-in, leaving For 'n' Against (Izzy Marshall) and Extreme Appeal (Tabitha Worsley) to contest the final few yards. In the end, it was Extreme Appeal who won it by a neck to give Johnny Weatherby the win for his Preston Lodge Stud team.
The Gredley family's Just Cause, with Jack Andrews in the saddle, was the runaway victor of the Men's Open. This was an impressive win, albeit from a well-rated horse, pulling clear of the field with a couple still to jump and drawing well clear to record an 11-length winning margin. Second-placed Dido tried to chase the winner over the final fences, but didn't have the same reserves in the tank, whilst Frank A Million finished in third.
Alice Stevens did her chances of winning the National Novice Rider title no harm when she piloted Derksen to victory in the 12-runner PPORA Club Members' race for Novice Riders. It was the fourth win of the season for this combination and the horse's second win from two runs at Dingley, the other under Tabitha Worsley. Starting as favourite, Derksen was never far from the lead and, although chased home by Dusk Till Dawn and Skyhill Allstar, never looked in danger by this stage.
Joint-top of the Novice Ladies' with Alice Stevens prior to this meeting was Isabel Williams, so the former's win in the previous race kept the pressure on the latter and Burn Baby Byrne, her ride in the Restricted. The five-year-old didn't let her down, though, as they took the lead over the last fence and won comfortably from long-time leader Staple Head (Dale Peters). Isabel's win here keeps the title race alive for the Novice Ladies, whilst Dale's second place secured him the Area title for him.
Finally, the last race provided one of the best of the evening, with all three runners in contention entering the final stages. Favourite Chosen Tribe (Tom McClorey) was joined at the second-last by Celestino (James King) before both were caught at the last by a rallying Milzipa (Alex Edwards), who pulled away in the straight to win by a couple of lengths.
The Midlands Area would like to thank all its supporters, both on and off the track, for their continued dedication to the sport this season. The weather has presented many challenges and to have enough horses and spectators to run an evening meeting in the second week of June is testament to everyone's hard work.