Quality racing was the order of the day when the Midlands Area Point to Point season opened with the Burton meeting at North Carlton on Sunday. Thirty six runners contested six races on going officially described as "Good, good to firm in places".
The Robinson family from Linwood near Market Rasen teamed up with Richard Armson to complete a quick double in the first two races. Exit To Luck, the winner of seven races on the flat, had failed to complete on his only previous start in points. However, on this occasion he started well by winning the best turned out prize. Tally Ho Back and Samantha Klug made the early running but Armson took charge in the back straight passing the farmyard and went on to win the Lincolnshire United Hunts Club Members race by four lengths. The veteran, Yanns finished second for Blankney owner Martin Wells.
In the second race; the Junction 4 Pallets Confined race the Robinson runner Menchikov, the leading horse in the Midlands area in 2009, was making a comeback following a year on the sidelines. Moustique De Lisle and Great Grimsby disputed a clear lead early on. Armson once again made his move on Menchikov passing the farm buildings. Walter's Laddie and Johnny Bailey made a race of it but Menchikov came out best by a short head. The third horse Great Grimsby earned owner/trainer/ rider the trophy for the best placed Brocklesby horse "The Charles Pickering Memorial Perpetual Challenge Trophy". Armson who had a poor season in 2010 by his standards said afterwards; "We're back and starting as we mean to go on!" The Robinson family later headed off to Market Rasen where they had Panama Canal running in the Handicap Chase. Richard Armson was awarded the riding feat of the day.
The Andrews sisters dominated the finish in the F.B. Watson Ladies Open race. It was seventeen year old Bridget who had the upper hand winning on Inaro by five lengths. This horse nearly died of colic last season and winning owner Philip Perkins was full of praise for veteran trainer Mike Burman for getting Inaro ready without any modern facilities. Bridget Andrews collected an award for being the youngest winning jockey of the day. Pass The Parsel, who failed to sell at Doncaster in August, ran well and should give connections some fun in Ladies races this season. Poppy Day finished third, this slightly disappointed the Mason family but Jo put it down to the missed work during the bad weather. Poppy Day's target is the first Hunter Chase of the season at Wetherby.
In the Men's Open race kindly sponsored by Lincoln Audi, the classy Oedipe was able to dominate from flag fall. Galaxia and John Russell tried to make a race of it but at the finish they were six lengths behind. The winning jockey, Jack Greenall, who is cousin to Tom, Ollie, Toby and Jake, was riding his first winner. "All the hours dodging lectures has paid off", joked Greenall, 22, who is in his final year reading History at Edinburgh University, but still manages to ride out a David Easterby's yard three times a week.
Mumby Heppenstall kindly sponsored the Restricted race in which Gina Andrews and Crosby looked the likely winners before they came to grief. This left Liverpool and the winner of the maiden at this meeting last year Harlaxton to fight it out. Liverpool ridden by Jo Mason were strongest getting up by a length and the fact that the nine year old was pricking his ears close home suggests that he was winning quite comfortably. Matt Stanley who rode Harlaxton was having his first ride for Antonia Bealby in Point to Points and gained an award for being the youngest gentleman rider to be in the placings.
The final race of the day the Hodgson Elkington four, five, six and seven year olds open maiden race was run over the shorter distance of two miles and four furlongs. The winner here was The Countess Cathcart's Battlefield Bob ridden by her son George Greenock. This seven year old gelding had run a few times for Caroline Bailey under rules but wasn't finishing his races. A wind operation and a move into Gerald Bailey's Point to Point yard allowed him to open his account. Connections thought that Battlefield Bob's next race might be over an easy three miles at either Higham or Cottenham.
The next Point to Point racing in the Midlands Area is the Midlands Area Club Point to Point at Thorpe Lodge on Sunday 13th February, first race 12 noon.