A large Bank Holiday crowd enjoyed the Fernie Point-to-Point races at Dingley on Sunday where the highlights including doubles for handlers Gerald Bailey and Martin Ward.
Gerald Bailey's brace of winners included taking the Midlands Area Feature race the Welland Valley Feeds Ltd Fernie Four Miler Mixed Open race with Gun Money. Starting the 10-11 favourite Richard Russell's ten year old was ridden as usual by his son John and showed his class winning nicely. This was Gun Money's third win at Dingley and the Russell's have enjoyed a fantastic season with him; he has won three Point-to-Points now and was only just touched off in a Warwick Hunter Chase just over a week ago. "We have had a lot of fun this season and hopefully we will come back here for the Fitzwilliam meeting in two weeks." Confirmed the delighted Richard Russell. Ballywall finished second and High Counsel was third.
The Bailey stable got off to a good start when Sandpipers edged ahead of the long-time leading Argentato approaching the last fence in the Sharnford Tractors Ten Year Olds and over Midlands Area Club Race. Again starting the market leader, Sandpipers has won three races for rider Alex Vaughan-Jones who has also won twice on Fearthedark and is enjoying a tremendous season. Sandpipers was defying a 9lbs penalty but this was lucky for Vaughan-Jones who didn't need to carry a weight cloth owing to the excesses of a Stag Party the night before! "We will have to go for an Open race next as there are no other options." Said Caroline Bailey, wife of the winning trainer Gerald. Argentato finished second with Swing Bill in third.
Martin Ward's double came at the opposite end of the card; he won the Subaru Restricted race with Kilbeg Opera who beat the only other finisher Treacyswestcounty. Kilbeg Opera has the option of running in the Subaru Restricted Point-to-Point Series Final at Stratford on Friday 29th May. In the Final race of the day the Watling JCB Ltd Open Maiden race it was the 9 year old mare Violet Crack who took the spoils. Owned by Anthony Winchester, for whom this was the first winner he has owned outright, the mare has had her fair share of problems and was off the track for two years. Ridden by Martin Ward's son-in-law Dicky Collinson, Violet Crack may return for the Fitzwilliam meeting if she is well. Total Compliance finished second with Katesoneoneeight in third.
The earlier Charles Stanley Open Maiden race over two and a half miles went to the five year old Dido who is trained and ridden by Dale Peters for Bob Fox. "This horse has always been very enthusiastic in his work and the problem has been getting him to settle. We thought he would win at Garthorpe but he has done it nicely today. He will go out in the field now and hopefully come in a stronger horse next season." Said Dale Peters. This was a third success of the season for Peters who is now leading the Dingley rider Championship for the Morrison Cup. Fair Ask was second and Tullydonnell Flyer was third.
Awesome George showed his class to win the Fisher German PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders for the Mahon family. Rider Lara Mahon has the opposite problem to most riders as she weighs eight and a half stone and has to carry a very heavy saddle with a lot of lead to make 12 stone. Tim Roger's horse Smith's Hill ran well for Kelly Morgan who gained some more points and maintained her lead for the D &M Barthorpe Lady rider and Novice rider awards ahead of Lottie Crane who finished third on Mister Philson.
Many people stayed on after racing for a party in the beer tent.
The final meeting in the Midlands Area is the Melton Hunts Club Point-to-Point at Garthorpe on Sunday 10th May, first race 2pm. The next meeting at Dingley is the Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt on Saturday 16th May, first race 2pm.