Kinneston-based jockey, Kit Alexander, 23, was the one to follow in last Saturday's Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire and Eglinton point-to-point fixture at Overton Farm, Crossford as Master Butcher, Rossini's Dancer and Afterclass provided him with the first treble of his career. The trio are all owned and trained by his father, Nick, who had to miss the meeting as he was supervising his four runners at Kelso Races.
Master Butcher initiated the treble in an incident-packed STCS (Scotland) Ltd NPPA Club Members Race, in which seven of the thirteen runners failed to finish. Going well with a circuit to go, Alexander's mount tracked Tommys Lad from the final ditch before getting on terms four out. The 8 year old was sent clear after the next and stayed on strongly up the home straight to score by six lengths. Alexander said: "He travelled well from the off, was suited by the track and did well to avoid all the carnage happening around him."
Rossini's Dancer struck next for the Alexander team on his 75th career start in the Bonhams Men's Open Race. After taking up the running six fences from the finish, he turned the contest into a procession in the closing stages and cruised home twenty lengths ahead of Little Fritz.
This versatile gelding actually started his career in a 6 furlong Pontefract Maiden in September 2007 and ran 27 times over the next two years from Richard Fahey's yard. Trained latterly by Nick Alexander, he was given a career-high rating of 133 by the BHA handicapper following his last win over fences at Aintree in October 2013.
Kit said of the 10 year old: "He was going so well that I had no option but to send him on and he won very easily in the end."
After a few near misses earlier in the season, Afterclass deservedly opened his account in the Albert Bartlett & Sons (Airdrie) Ltd Open Maiden Race to complete Alexander's treble. Content to track the pace-setting Heckley Herbert from the outset, Afterclass reeled in his rival after three out, taking it up at the next before sealing a two lengths victory with a better jump at the last.
Alexander said of the ex-Irish gelding: "After three runs at Alnwick and one at Corbridge, he was much better suited by this flatter track. The only surprise is that we thought he would have got off the mark before now."
Last year's Northern Area Men's Champion jockey, Tom Hamilton. 19, is only 10pts behind Nick Orpwood in this season's title race following his double on Some Target and Flash Garden.
The former Willie Mullins-trained gelding, Some Target ended a losing run stretching back to January 2011 in the Goulding's Garden Centre Overton Racing Club Members Conditions Race. Always in the leading trio, he looked as though he might have to settle for minor honours once again after Another Dark Rum went a couple of lengths clear two out but Hamilton's mount found the decisive thrust to regain the initiative inside the last fifty yards and score by three parts of a length.
It is worth noting that Some Target finished fifth in the 4 mile National Hunt Chase at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival and his last run for the Mullins yard was in the 2012 Irish Grand National. Bought privately last summer, the 11 year old is now with Penton near Longtown handler, Gemma Anderson, who said: "First time blinkers made a difference today. He's a little horse to be carrying big weights and appreciated this drop in class after running against the highly rated Palypso De Creek in a Carlisle Hunters' Chase six days ago."
Hamilton completed his double on hunt racing newcomer, Flash Garden in the two and a half mile Taggarts Land Rover Lanarkshire Open Maiden Race for 4, 5, 6 and 7 year olds. His mount finally got the better of Roll The Dough approaching two out before pulling six lengths clear up the run-in, with another promising debutant, Rocku, a further ten lengths away in third.
This 7 year old Heron Island gelding was bought at Doncaster Sales in May 2012 by his Meldon near Morpeth trainer, James Cookson, who said: "He had a couple of chips removed from a fetlock last year and so his debut was delayed. We actually had him ready to run here in February but that meeting was abandoned." Overton has proved to be a lucky venue for Cookson as Wacket Willie also scored first time out for his yard at the Dumfriesshire & Stewartry meeting in February 2013."
Keeverfield initiated a first double for Leslie-based trainer, Gemma Cochrane in the Hillhouse Quarry Group Ltd Ladies Open Race. Given a positive front-running ride by Catherine Walton, the evergreen 14 year old gradually forged clear from three out to beat Radharc Na Mara by eight lengths and register his 13th career win between the flags.
Cochrane would have been riding Keeverfield herself but is out for the season after sustaining a badly broken collarbone in a fall from Flying Native in a Musselburgh Hunters' Chase last month. She said of her father, Alistair's charge: "He usually prefers softer ground but often makes his own mind up on the day and will soon let you know if he's not enjoying it."
Milano Magic completed a memorable day for the Cochrane family with his first success since January 2011 in the Norrie Drummond Castle Bookmakers Restricted Race. Always prominent under the in-form Nick Orpwood, the 9 year old was joined over the last two fences by Cheshire raider, Push Ahead before edging in front near the line to snatch a head verdict. A delighted Gemma commented: "He had turned a bit sour latterly under Rules but has been sweetened up by a change of scenery in point-to-points and shown renewed enthusiasm despite going four years without a win."
On a warm, sunny afternoon, the well organised meeting was a huge success with all car parks full, a bumper 5000 crowd and 70 runners on near perfect going, as well as 28 runners in the 4 pony races - just reward for landowner, Willie Young and his hard-working team.