Charlotte Dun, 19, had an afternoon to remember as the former Ann Hamilton-trained geldings, Rolecarr and Farm Pixie provided her with the first two winners of her career in Saturday's Berwickshire Hunt Point-to-Point fixture at Friars Haugh, Kelso.
Rolecarr and Tasheba had the Watson Seeds Ladies Open Race between them from four out and it was the former who forged clear from two out to score by seven lengths. The 12 year old winner, trained by Dun's mother, Jane, was given to them last February after a long career under Rules which saw him score five times at the nearby Kelso National Hunt track as well as twice at Hexham. The victory was especially poignant as he carried the colours of Dun's late father, Michael, the Northern Area's principal race commentator until his untimely death eight weeks ago, aged 54.
Farm Pixie completed Dun's red letter day in the Meadowhead-Parks.Co.Uk. Open Maiden Race. Making his 25th career start, the 9 year old was always in the front rank but looked in trouble when Pampanito went five lengths clear approaching two out. However, Dun didn't panic and conjured a renewed effort from her mount who easily reeled in the leader before staying on strongly after the last to score by two lengths. This was a first training success for Blainslie-based Kathy Weir, wife of former Scotland Rugby International Doddie Weir and sister of Jane Dun, who was given the gelding last August and partnered him in a novice hunter trial at Duns the previous Sunday.
Dun, in her second year studying Accountancy and Economics at Heriot Watt University, said: "He travelled supremely well through the race, never made a mistake and still had plenty left in the tank at the finish. I should probably retire now when I'm on a high."
A short-priced double on The Toft and Splendid Blue gave Nick Orpwood a new personal best seasonal tally of 12 and lifted his career tally under all codes to 40, as well as extending his lead over Tom Hamilton in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship to 17pts.
The gallant Whatsthestoryman made virtually all the running in the Morton Fraser Open Maiden Race but was not as fluent at the last as The Toft, who edged in front near the line to snatch a short head verdict. Orpwood said of the Lucinda Russell-trained 6 year old Kayf Tara mare: "She has come on a lot since her debut third here a fortnight ago and will be even better on softer ground."
The Gotfor Man was given an enterprising, front-running ride by Tom Hamilton in the Bonhams Men's Open Race and still held a four lengths advantage over Splendid Blue approaching two out. Orpwood's mount then engaged overdrive and had pegged back the leader by the last before pulling one and a half lengths clear on the short run-in. Joanna Boswell said of her stable star: "That's five out of five here and she's the queen of Friars Haugh. She had to work hard for that but her jumping was much improved after plenty of schooling in the last fortnight."
Catherine Walton's 11th winner of the season, a new personal best, came on Dun Faw Good in the Musselburgh Racecourse and Dick Vet Equine Hospital Restricted Race. This was her only ride of the day and lifted her career tally between the flags to 60. Always going well in the leading trio, her mount got a great run up the inside of Fight Away Boys from two out, overturning a two lengths deficit and doing just enough in a driving finish to secure a short head verdict, with the favourite, Mister D a further eight lengths away in third. This maintained a 100% record for Flotterton near Rothbury trainer, Claire Walton, while the progressive 8 year old's owner/breeder, Tom Oates said: "He is much improved on better ground this season."
16 year old Sam Coltherd is one of the Northern Area's rising stars and secured his 4th winner of the season on Damiens Dilemma in the Crabtree & Crabtree Border Hunts Club Members Race. Sent straight to the front, his mount put in a fine exhibition of jumping, apart from a minor blunder at the last, and eventually won by a cosy eight lengths from Banoge despite despite bursting a blood vessel for the first time.
The 7 year old, who finished in the first four in three of his four starts in Maiden company in Ireland in 2014, was bought privately in January by Northern Area Point-to-Point Chairman, Robert Miller-Bakewell. Regular pilot, Harriett Bryce, who won on him at Alnwick last month, is still sidelined after being concussed and damaging ankle ligaments when unseated at Corbridge on March 1st.
Jamie Alexander, 50 the following day, remains as enthusiastic as ever and showed his younger counterparts the way home on Back On The Road in the Bill Hardie Memorial NPPA Club Members Race for Veteran and Novice Riders. Always close up, the 13 year old was sent on three out and kept Soul Angel and the favourite, Annie Aces at bay in the closing stages to score by a length. The win rounded off a great week for the gelding's trainer, Nick Alexander, brother of Jamie, following an Overton treble the previous Saturday and a hurdles success for Northern Acres at Newcastle on Friday.
After the last race, the Rainy Brown Memorial Trophy was presented to Nick Orpwood as the leading rider at this season's three Friars Haugh meetings. His tally of 32pts included six winners and left him 13pts ahead of Tom Hamilton. Rainy was a keen supporter of hunt racing, and was both Secretary and Treasurer on the Berwickshire Point-to-Point Committee for a long time.
The mid-season statistics for the Northern Area make good reading with a total of 499 runners at the first 9 meetings, and an average of 8.18 runners per race. This equates to 63.49% of the 786 entries facing the starter.