Pour de Yorkshire

  • Last Updated: July 19 2014, 17:11 BST

George Primarolo reflects on the first day of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival at a wet but wonderful Ripon.

Iain Duncan-Smith (right) affords himself a wistful look as he realises he'd rather be at Ripon.
Iain Duncan-Smith (right) affords himself a wistful look as he realises he'd rather be at Ripon.

After a beautiful weekend for the Grand Depart, where Yorkshire shone in front of the eyes of the world, it was a bit too much to expect the glorious weather to continue.

As a result, the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival was always destined to get off to a sodden start but this didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of racegoers who flocked to the traditional curtain-raiser at Ripon - and they were treated to some cracking racing (even if the weather refused to play its part).

The Sky Bet-sponsored event got off to the perfect start for tipster Jim McGrath, who pocketed £100 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance when his 'Magnificent Seven' tip, Shamrock Sheila, got off the mark at the fourth time of asking in the opening seller.

It was a welcome winner too for trainer Stan Moore, who decided to make the long trip up north from Lambourn with his two-year-old. Not that this was the furthest she'd travelled so far - her last run was in a Deauville claimer.

Rocking The Boat did just that in the maiden, beating the 2/1 favourite Khawaater by a length and three quarters and connections of the runner-up will be wondering just what they have to do to get off the mark. She doesn't look an easy filly to deal with.

Time will probably tell us that Penhill's victory in the Ripon Bell-Ringer Handicap was the highlight of the day but Border Bandit's victory in the mile handicap probably just shaded it for me. He has been a revelation this year for trainer Tracy Waggott and followed his Beverley victory just four days ago with another gutsy success here. He may not be finished for the season just yet.

Penhill's victory was impressive though and he coped very well with the soft ground that prevailed halfway through the afternoon. He is progressing nicely and the way he travelled all over his rivals in the final furlong suggests he is going the right way.

It wouldn't be a Ripon meeting without a Mark Johnston winner and Bureau was yet another winner for one of the Scotsman's three-year-olds against the older horses this season. If you'd have followed that system over the past week or so, you'd be a lot richer than I am.

So all in all, it was business as usual at the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival this afternoon. Some rain? Check. Fantastic racing? Check. A great day out? Check.

You might even see some famous faces if you come racing in God's own county.

Rugby League superstar Danny McGuire was there with some of the Leeds Rhinos squad and they seemed to be having a whale of a time - even though they hadn't exactly dressed for the weather. When you compare that to the sighting of Theresa May and Iain Duncan-Smith at Newbury, it tells its own story.

If you haven't been to one of the Yorkshire tracks yet, then there's plenty of chances over the next week or so. The roadshow rolls on to the Teesside Riviera tomorrow when Redcar takes centre stage and if you can't make it there, then head to the Westwood on Monday evening after work for a cracking card at Beverley.

Over a million people went racing in Yorkshire last year and, judged on today's crowd at Ripon, that number is set to be broken again - come rain or shine.