Last Saturday's Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire fixture at Overton Farm, Crossford showcased the Northern point-to-point scene in a very positive light with car parks full, a massive crowd in attendance on a warm, sunny afternoon and competitive racing with 43 runners across the card.
Carrying 17lb less than he would have done in the Men's Open, Nick Alexander's evergreen 12 year old gelding, Rossini's Dancer took his career tally under all codes to 16 in the Hillhouse Quarry Group Ltd Ladies Open Race under Charlotte Dun. After being held up in the early stages, he was sent on five out and gradually extended his advantage from two out to beat Kelly Bryson's mount, De Bee Keeper by ten lengths.
Dun, 21, who rides out at Alexander's Kinneston yard most Saturdays, said: "I cannot thank Nick enough for giving me the chance to ride Rossini's Dancer. He's not very big but loves his job and lit up when I asked him to go before cruising home."
Nick Orpwood recorded a 70th career winner, including 6 under Rules, on Bollin Buster in the Royal Bank Of Scotland Restricted Race. The 7 year old reeled in the pace-setting Beyond The Glen on the final circuit before taking it up as they bypassed two out and went on to score by two lengths from Sorcier. Cumbrian trainer, Jackie Williamson had opted not to run her charge at her local meeting at Dalston a fortnight ago because of the heavy ground and her decision to wait for better going was duly rewarded.
The Albert Bartlett & Sons (Airdrie) Ltd 6 year olds and over Open Maiden Race went to Time For Vino in the hands of Bruce Lynn. The 9 year old led five out before turning the closing stages into a procession and was at least twenty lengths clear when his nearest rival, The Brandy Man fell at the last. Although this was a first Pointing victory for 17 year old Lynn, another graduate from the pony racing ranks, he did have 5 winners from 10 rides on the Flat in 2016. Part owner, Kenny Little said of the Diana Carter-trained winner: "We bought him via Facebook on the Horses For Sale section from a Castle Douglas Riding School and he's improved with every run this season."
Sedgefield jockey, Chris Dawson, who only returned to action seven weeks ago after recovering from serious facial injuries sustained in a fall at Easingwold last April, opened his 2017 account in a slowly run STCS (Scotland) Ltd NPPA Club Members Race on Viacometti. The 8 year old finally overhauled For A Finish, ridden by Hexham MP Guy Opperman, with a better jump two out and was again more fluent at the last before securing a four lengths verdict. Dawson said of the Karen Lynn-trained gelding: "He travelled well through the race but I thought he might still be in trouble as For A Finish matched strides rounding the home turn before getting on top up the straight. He would be suited by a much stronger gallop and better ground."
Scottish trainer, Leonard Kerr, who is based not far from the now defunct Bogside Racecourse, ended a lean spell with his first double, courtesy of Havana Jack and Chicago Outfit, both partnered by Ryan Nichol. Havana Jack, who had shown promise in hunters' chases, swept past Qoubilai after three out before drawing clear to land the Goulding's Garden Centre 6 year olds and over Overton Racing Club Members Conditions Race by five lengths. Nichol is one of the most under-rated jockeys on the Northern Area circuit and it is hard to believe that before Saturday he had ridden only one winner between the flags in the previous seven years. He said of Havana Jack: "He's always jumped well over the bigger fences in hunters' chases and was only beaten four lengths when third to Mister Marker at Perth last May."
Nichol's first double was completed by 114-rated chaser, Chicago Outfit in the Park's Mitsubishi Men's Open race. The 12 year old galloped his six rivals into submission from the off and comfortably kept Wicklow Lad at bay from four out. He had previously run 42 times under Rules for Howard Johnson, John Wade and George Bewley before this belated debut between the flags. Kerr said: "I bought Chicago Outfit privately from George Bewley last summer after he had recommended him to me. He won five times over fences at Hexham for the Bewley team and might return there in April for a hunters' chase."
Catherine Walton's only ride at the meeting was a winning one on the lightly raced Ripstick in the two and a half mile Park's Ford Open Maiden Race for four, five and six year olds. Returning from an eleven week break, the home-bred youngster wasn't headed after six out and survived his only serious mistake at the third from home to beat Sam Says by two lengths. His dam, Posh Stick won at Dalston in 2004 before going on to score four times under Rules.