After missing the heavy rain which hit many parts of Northumberland earlier in the week, the weather gods were smiling again on the Downhills course near Corbridge on Sunday as the forecast heavy rain didn't arrive until the Tynedale's seven card had finished. It attracted a total of 64 runners on near perfect jumping ground and also featured the first pony racing action of the season.
Solid Strike made it 4 wins from his last 5 Pointing starts in the Lycetts Insurance Brokers Tynedale Hunts Club Members Riders Conditions Race in the hands of his owner/trainer/rider, Paul Collins. The 9 year old reeled in Forge Valley from three out, eventually joining issue at the last before asserting inside the last hundred yards to score by one and a half lengths.
Collins, 40, a farrier based at Lingdale near Saltburn, said: "That's 3 out of 3 for him round here. He stays all day and his main target is the 4 mile Grimthorpe Gold Cup at Sheriff Hutton on April 2. On a personal note, I'm hoping to get my full trainers licence at the end of the current point-to-point season."
Diamond Brig initiated a double for jockey, Tom Hamilton in the Mick Watson 4, 5, 6 & 7 year olds Open Maiden Race sponsored by Euro Hostels. His full brother, Over To Sam landed the corresponding contest on last year's card. The youngster had just seized the initiative from Carrickcross Boye when the latter fell two out, leaving Hamilton's mount to coast home fifteen lengths ahead of Brown Trix. Hamilton said of his mother, Wendy's home-bred 5 year old: "He's still very green but jumped well most of the way and gradually warmed to his task. I must give a lot of credit to my mum who has been schooling him at home while I'm in Ireland and I'm heading back there tonight on the 6pm flight from Newcastle."
Hamilton completed his double on proven stayer, Wayupinthesky in the Land Factor NPPA Club Members Race. The 10 year old eased himself into contention on the final circuit before edging clear from two out to beat recent Alnwick scorer, Pyjama Game by one and a half lengths, with Nickwillis a neck away in third. Hamilton is now only 3pts behind Nick Orpwood in the Albert Bartlett (Airdrie) Ltd Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship after 5 of this season's 16 meetings.
After just being touched off by Damiens Dilemma on his reappearance at Friars Haugh five weeks ago, Wind Of Hope went one better in the 3m 5f Bond Dickinson Ladies Open Race. Amie Waugh's mount had a prolonged duel with Clonea Power (Laura Fenwick) from six out before outstaying his rival from two out to score by three quarters of a length. Waugh is joint leader with Catherine Walton in the YoungsRPS Northern Area Ladies Championship following her second winner of the campaign. The 8 year old's Hawick-based owner/trainer, Alan Brown said: " He chipped a bone on a fetlock at home after his second run for me last year and was sidelined for several months. My other horse, Pena Dorada can't touch him on the gallops and he's likely to have a summer hurdling campaign."
Lord Usher, who was placed in 3 of his 16 starts under Rules between June 2012 and March 2016 for Stocksfield trainer, George Charlton, struck gold on only his third Pointing start since joining Kate Leckenby in the Volvo 8 year olds and over Open Maiden Race. After being settled in mid-division, the 10 year old picked off his rivals one by one on the final circuit before challenging Charlie Snow Angel for the lead two out. Leckenby's mount found extra to go two lengths clear at the last and extended his advantage to six lengths up the run-in. Leckenby said: "I broke him in as a 3 year old and bought him privately from George last April. He has a lot of gears, travels well in his races and might run again at Alnwick next Sunday."
John Dawson took his seasonal tally to five with a double on One Conemara and Asheanymoney. The former, who was bought out of Nicky Henderson's yard at Doncaster Sales in May 2014, is ideally suited by a test of stamina and was hardly blowing after trouncing his seven rivals when repeating his 2016 success in the 3m 5f Brewin Dolphin Men's Open Race. Sent on four out, he had the prize sewn up from the next and, despite being eased right down on the run-in, had twenty lengths to spare over Pena Dorada.
Asheanymoney completed Dawson's double in the Tilney Restricted Race and provided Samantha Coward with a first training success. The 9 year old led two out and kept finding extra to repel late challenges from My Lady West and Sorcier by one and a half lengths and a neck respectively.
The main action was preceded by two pony racers sponsored by Mowden Hall School. The 138cm and under contest over four and a half furlongs went to Ninfield Millionaires Splendour ridden by 12 year old Elliot Stockwell from Spirit (Ella Pigg) and Diptford Moonwalker (Sarah Longhorn). The 148cm and under contest over six and a half furlongs was won by 13 year old Archie Fox on Judge Fox, with Carrowmeer Nick (Sarah Longhorn) five lengths away in second and Doppio Movimento (Nick Barratt Atkin) a further ten lengths away in third.