The Belvoir Point-to-Point took place at Garthorpe on Sunday where despite the showery weather a reasonable crowd enjoyed some excellent racing at this first class venue. 47 runners took part in the 7 races with the going changing from "good" to "good to soft" as the afternoon went on and it was a good day for favourite backers but not the bookmakers as all 7 market leaders obliged.
The feature NFU Mutual Mixed Open race went to Richard Russell's Gunmoney ridden by his son John and trained by Gerald Bailey. Now a ten year old Gun Money dominated proceedings beating Realt Ag Leimt, who put in his best run this season with Gallant Nuit in third. "This is Gunmoney's tenth win; he's won 9 Point-to-Points and a Hunter Chase for us now. We would like to come back here for the Quorn Gold Cup and hopefully take in the Pytchley Men's Open before that." Said the delighted winning owner Richard Russell who originally sourced the horse in Ireland.
Gerald Bailey also saddled the winner of the Roythornes Solicitors Restricted race with Fearthedark who won his Maiden at Horseheath in February. Rider Alex Vaughan- Jones survived a mistake at the last to beat the promising Tommy Morgan trained 5 year old Shutthebackdoor ridden by Sam Davies-Thomas. The 7 year old Fearthedark now has the option of running in the Subaru Restricted Point-to-Point Series Final at Stratford on Friday 29th May.
The Tommy Morgan team had visited the winner's enclosure earlier in the afternoon when Lough Inch and Kelly Morgan (who is sponsored by Static Security Systems) put in another bold front running display to take the W Spence and Son Farriers Garthorpe Hunts Club Member's race. Owner Lizzie Harris was delighted with the way her horse had jumped. "We hope to come back here first but the long term goal is the Novice riders' final." She said referring to the £1000 Dodson and Horrell PPORA Club Member's Novice Riders' Series Final at Tabley on Sunday 17th May for which Lough Inch qualified for at the Cottesmore meeting. This was the second of the 2015 Garthorpe Member's races and the Belvoir are in currently in the lead; they are looking to collect the £600 prize at the end of the season kindly donated by Navitron.
The afternoon started with another qualifier for the Novice Riders' series final; the Barry Owen Memorial Teigh Old Rectory Bed and Breakfast PPORA Member's race for Novice Riders in which the riders of the first three past the post scored points for the Harley Racing National Novice Riders Championship. Here it was former Belvoir Point-to-Point Secretary James Henderson's Otto The Great who was always prominent throughout the race and looked like winning fairly comfortably. However, Harry Burt and Murphy's Promise came with a strong challenge close home and Fred Henderson had to pull out all the stops to get Otto The Great's neck in front on the line. There was a flash of lightening as the horses made their way back to the enclosure. "It's great to be back." Said James Henderson from the winner's enclosure before the heavens opened!
Roger Jackson's Gonalston Cloud increased his lead in the D&M Barthorpe Midlands Area leading horse Championships with a decisive win in the Connolly's Red Mills Precision Nutrition Intermediate race beating Carrigkerry and Page Fuller by twenty lengths with the 5 year old Love Manhattan in third. "We might go to Cheltenham now!" said the delighted winning owner Roger Jackson alluding to the fact that this race was a qualifier for the £7000 3 miles 1 ½ furlongs Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Point-to-Point Championship Hunter Chase final at Cheltenham on Wednesday 29th April. Gonalston Cloud has provided rider Tom Strawson with all three of his winners this season; Strawson who is sponsored by AGHAUL Ltd Haulage Contractors is the current leading rider in the Midlands Area.
Strawson's afternoon did not end so favourably when his saddle slipped on No Alterations in the Charles Brown Memorial Open Maiden race; he tried to continue like he once did on Shinrock Pearl before going on to finish second but could not quite manage it this time. The race went to Chris Bealby's Dream Mistress, trained locally at Barrowby who gave rider Fred Henderson a double making him the leading rider at the meeting. Bealby is keen to return to Garthorpe with his mare. "Dream Mistress deserved that and we will probably take in a Restricted first before looking at options under rules." He said. Danni Martt finished second on Roger Jackson's Pommier d'Estruval and may yet be able to score on this grey possibly at Thorpe on Easter Monday where the Jackson stable hope to have a number of runners.
The final William Bartholomew Party Organising four, five, six and seven year olds Open Maiden race over two and a half miles went to Haughton's Bridge who was given a confident ride by Dicky Collinson who is sponsored by the Ickleton Lion. This seven year old is owned and trained by Andrew Pennock who was delighted. "It was Dicky's idea to come here; he has always had high hopes for this horse. He ran out of petrol at Mark's Tey and will probably be suited by a sub- three miles Hunter Chase." He said. Sirius Star and Jonny Bailey finished second with Speed Lord and Jack Day in third.
There are two Point-to-Points in the Midlands Area over Easter; the Woodland Pytchley at Dingley on Easter Saturday, first race 2pm and the South Notts at Thorpe on Easter Monday, first race 1pm.