The Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point Club meeting held at Sheriff Hutton, in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, saw the first point-to-point of the 2017 season in Yorkshire get off to a fine start, despite a precautionary inspection at 8am. A good crowd turned out to watch an action packed seven races with many horses travelling from out of the Yorkshire Area to make for a competitive days racing. The amount raised for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance is thought to have equalled last year's figure of £6,250.
Although having to wait till the fifth race for a Yorkshire winner, it was a popular success for owner John Nellis, who farms locally in Skewsby and trainer Cherry Coward when One Conemara won easily to land the Brown's Department Store Mens Open Race. Having already finished third at Alnwick in December, this put last year's Grimthorpe Gold Cup winner just right for the race. Jockey John Dawson set a strong gallop from the front and repelled a strong challenge from the favourite Carlton Ryan, who finished second. Max My Boy ridden by Tom Strawson finished a close third. Asked about future plans for One Conemara John Nellis replied, "We will aim to run in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham and for another win in the Grimthorpe back here at Sheriff Hutton in April."
The second half of the Cherry Coward and John Dawson double was in the Open Maiden for 4,5 & 6 year olds, sponsored by Racing UK. Path to Freedom owned by John Nellis' wife Jenny led from the front and once the last was jumped asserted to win by an impressive 15 lengths. Like One Conemara he too was benefiting from a run at Alnwick in December but was back in trip. The winning rider commented "He was still a bit green" but looks to be shaping into a useful recruit from the Irish point-to-point scene having been bought from the Spring Horses In Training Sales at Doncaster. Will Milburn finished a distant second on Benton's Lad, who looks to need further and would appreciate better ground. Will Easterby finished a close third on Yoohoof for Mick Easterby's daughter in law, Steph Easterby.
Another jockey scoring a double on the day was Alex Edwards, landing both divisions of the YAPPC Club Members Race for trainer Philip Rowley and Owner Diana Williams. Both divisions were sponsored by White Rose Saddlery and were divided at entry stage. Division one was won by the progressive Hazel Hill who has now taken his tally in points to six and remains unbeaten. The pair led into the home straight and battled gamely to fend off She's Real and the favourite Executive Benefit. The leading trio had all travelled a long way with the winners early start been worthwhile "We set off at half past 5 this morning to get here" said the winning trainer. Division Two of the Club race went to Hazel Hill's stable mate Grandturgeon who in similar style to Hazel Hill is on an upward curve. The Highlander set a strong pace and after been outpaced three out rallied close home but could not claw back the winner, with Mister Splodge back in third whom made his debut for his new trainer Ed Glassonbury.
The biggest cheer of the day was heard when Yasmin Burt and Galant Nuit came into the Winners' Enclosure after beating Emma Todd on Railway Dillon in The Coral Bookmakers sponsored Ladies' Open Race. Yasmin, who was having her first winner and only her fourth ride, explained that the personal touch and hunting was keeping the thirteen year old Galant Nuit sweet. "I do everything with him at home; I really treat him as a pet and knew he was well today." Trained by Yasmin's Mother-in- law Rachel Burt back in Lincolnshire, the win was very popular "There will be big celebrations!" said one friend of the family. Altar Rock stayed on well in the home straight and touched off Peter From Paris to finish third. Altar Rock's jockey, Debbie Boyes was having her first ride in a point-to-point, and competed in last year's Macmillan Charity Race at York Racecourse.
Dale Peters based in Sawtry, Cambridgeshire made the journey North worthwhile by landing the spoils with Wither or Not in The Coniston Hotel sponsored Restricted Race. A victory in a Maiden Race at Barbury over 2 mile 4 furlongs saw Wither or Not have to step up in trip for this contest. "He impressed me today and he will improve again. He was purchased privately from Ireland having seen him for sale on Bidpoint." Dance of Time looks to be one to watch next time out after coming second. Mickey Miller ran a big race under Jack Jordan but couldn't reel in the leader and claimed third spot.
The Open Maiden Race, sponsored by Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors was won by The Ibbster. Trained and ridden by Ed Glassonbury. "The owner (The Honourable Arthur Vestey) has been really patient with the horse. The horse had suffered a nasty cut after running into a gate when getting loose at home and needed time. Horses by Shantou tend to want soft ground, but I don't think he does. The plan is to go under rules with him in the future" explained Oliver Greenall. David Coates, who hasn't ridden in points since 2006 and was a gallant second on Be A Dreamer. Fayre Enough who was always prominent came home third for Charlotte Crane.
The next fixture is:- The Sinnington Point-to-Point at Duncombe Park on Sunday 12th February 2017.