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Border at Hexham
Tuesday 30th May 2017
by Peter Burgon

Charlotte Crane and Sam Davies-Thomas were the jockeys to follow on last Tuesday evening's Border card at Hexham Racecourse, the closing fixture of the 2017 Northern Area season.

Danny Mags initiated Crane's first double in the Ryecroft Glenton Restricted Race. After breezing past the pace-setting Paddy's Wish five out, the 10 year old barely moved out of second gear to canter home by eighteen lengths.

The gelding's Middlesbrough-based owner, David Gawthorpe said: ''He had a virus earlier in the year and was running poorly but has been back on song in the last few weeks and it's a pity the season is ending.''

Viacometti completed Crane's double when justifying favouritism with his third Pointing victory in a row in the Le Petit Chateau Ladies Open Race. He had just got on terms with Billing three out when the latter fell and, after being left well clear, coasted home a distance in front of Beau D'Argent.

Crane, 21, who has just completed her final year exams at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, will be spending the summer with French trainer, Emmanuel Clayeux.''

Cave Hunter hasn't finished out of the first two in fifteen starts between the flags since being bought by Moffat farmer, Niel Manning in 2012 and his latest success in the 3 runner Bed Experts Men's Open Race clinched the £500 George F White-sponsored Northern Area Champion Horse title. Kept up to his work throughout the the three and a quarter mile trip by Davies-Thomas, the 10 year old was in command from three out and stayed on strongly to bear Rosie Du Berlais by a distance.

His trainer, Wendy Hamilton commented: ''He was unscathed after demolishing the second fence at Kelso on Sunday and I would have been happy here with a clear round. He schooled well on Monday, was bouncing at home and Sam has given him a fantastic ride.'' Davies-Thomas was deputising for Wendy's son. Tom, who was required to stay in Ireland to ride for his boss, Joseph O'Brien at Ballinrobe and he made the most of his opportunity by landing the concluding Bumper on Tower Bridge for owner, JP McManus.

Melton Mowbray trainer, Tommy Morgan made the 400 mile round trip worthwhile when his stable star, Lough Inch landed the two and a half mile Willie Richardson & Friends of the Border Hunt Club Members Race, completing a double for Davies-Thomas. Formerly with Jonjo O'Neill, the 10 year old has now won 18 of his 23 starts since being given to Morgan's girlfriend, Liz Harris in 2012. Davies-Thomas, who has ridden more than 100 winners under all codes and is currently based with leading National Hunt trainer, Dan Skelton, said: ''After going clear three out, he was running on empty at the finish and would have preferred quicker ground.'' This was Lough Inch's seventh win of the season and made him joint leader with Chosen Lucky for the prestigious Connolly's Red Mills Champion Horse award.

After hitting the front on the long downhill run to three out, Gillon Crow's mount, Fight Away Boys soon put daylight between himself and his rivals before coming home with twenty lengths in hand over Double Dan in the Par Petroleum NPPA Club Members Race. Kelso-based owner, Ronald Barber commented: ''After disappointing runs in Maiden Hunters'Chases at Kelso and Hexham, it's a relief to end the season on a high.''

On his eighth start of the season, For Yes posted a career-best effort when beating several more fancied rivals in the Carrs Billington Intermediate Race, which saw the first two fences in the home straight omitted because of the low sun. Given a positive ride by Harriett Bryce, Robert Miller-Bakewell's charge finally got the better of Kitty Fisher and Game As A Pheasant after turning for home and stayed on strongly to score by seven lengths.

After partnering Oliver's Gold to victory at Cartmel on Bank Holiday Monday for her boss, Mark Walford, talented Sheriff Hutton-based jockey, Emma Todd struck gold again with her only ride of the evening on Teviot Prince in the Ward Hadaway Open Maiden Race. Sent on as they bypassed the usual second last fence, the 7 year old kept on well in the closing stages to beat stable companion, Massini's Lady by a couple of lengths, with the favourite, Northern Executive a distance away in third place. This was a first Pointing winner as a trainer for former jockey, Gary Rutherford, who is based near Jedburgh.

The evening concluded with the presentation of the Tony Ward Memorial Trophy to the leading jockey at the Haydon and Border fixtures. It was won by recently crowned Yorkshire Ladies Champion and Yorkshire Novice Ladies Champion, Charlotte Crane, who finished runner-up on Danny Mags in the Haydon Restricted before registering her first double at the Border, the Northern Area's first evening fixture since April 1995.

Eleven winners at the first ten Northern Area meetings proved to be enough for Nick Orpwood, 29, to recapture the Albert Bartlett (Airdrie) Ltd Men's Jockeys Championship. He finished 14pts ahead of Tom Hamilton, with 2016 champion, Kit Alexander a further 2pts away in third place.

Seven years after completing a hat-trick of titles, Kelly Bryson, 31, carried off the Youngs RPS Ladies Championship. She finished the season on 28pts, with Joanna Walton in second place on 22pts and Amie Waugh in third on 21pts. Kelly, who gets married at the end of August, announced her retirement at the Border meeting.

Laura Fenwick's first winners on Clonea Power and The Ketchup Kid at Mosshouses helped her clinch the Novice Riders Championship with 17pts. She finished 9pts ahead of Crawford Robertson, with Lucy Brown a further 3pts away in third.

Cave Hunter's fourth win of the season at the Border meeting saw him finish 2pts ahead of Always Tipsy in the George F White Champion Horse Award, while Michael Walton's 7 year old Scorpion mare, Kitty Fisher was a worthy winner of both the Novice Horse Championship and Leading Mare Award.

The Buccleuch Arms, St Boswells Hunt Awards resulted in a comprehensive win for the Jedforest (85pts), from the Berwickshire (57pts) with the Fife (49pts) in third place.

For the record, the Area's 15 meetings attracted a total of 1319 entries and 692 runners with an average of 6.92 runners per race. The latter figure dropped significantly at the last 5 meetings (150 runners) as the prolonged dry spell took its toll.

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