One of the biggest crowds seen at Dalston in recent years turned out for the Cumberland Farmers point-to-point meeting on Easter Monday. A total of 53 runners faced the starter on the six race card, a figure surpassed at only one of the day's other ten fixtures across the country.
Monbeg got favourite backers off to the perfect start by defying a 7lb penalty to land the D.A.Harrison Cumberland Farmers Hunt Members Race in the hands of John Dawson.
Sent clear after four out, he never looked like being pegged back by Present To You down the home straight and still had five lengths in hand at the line. Dawson said: "He's a different horse wearing cheekpieces and although we probably hit the front a bit too soon, he won easily in the end."
The gelding was given to Penton near Longtown handler, Gemma Anderson last year by his previous trainer, Martin Todhunter and was a first winner for the Carlisle-based Six Thix Partnership, which is headed by Ian Milburn. He could run next in a Perth Hunters' Chase later in the month.
Selkirk trainer, Stuart Coltherd is enjoying another good season between the flags as well as under Rules and his exciting youngster, Captain Redbeard was the most impressive winner of the day in the Carrock Meats Restricted Race. Given a confident ride at the back of the field by son, Sam, the 6 year old picked off his rivals one by one on the final circuit before hitting the front two out and drawing clear to score by a cosy two lengths. Stuart said of his charge: "He was far more settled than at Alnwick and is learning the game all the time. Potentially, he's the best horse I've ever trained. It's back home now where my father and I are just one week into lambing 1350 ewes."
Keeverfield turned in another gutsy, front-running display in the Beech House Holidays Ladies Open Race and was still a length up when a last fence blunder gave Catherine Walton no chance of keeping the partnership intact. Durban Gold and Rolecarr were left to battle it out up the run-in with the former getting on top in the last fifty yards to win by half a length. Winning rider, Joanna Walton said of the 8 year old Flemensfirth mare: "She loves the softer ground and was a totally different horse compared to her last run at Crossford a fortnight ago, however, it might have been a different outcome had Keeverfield not departed at the last."
Bonchester Bridge-based owner/trainer, Diana Walton added: "I didn't think she would be so effective in Ladies Opens when we first got her in November."
The Northern Area's senior amateur rider, Jamie Alexander, 50, showed his younger counterparts the way home on ex-chaser, Royal Chatelier in the Bonhams Men's Open Race for the coveted John Peel Trophy. Always in the leading pair, the 10 year old looked in trouble when Locked Inthepocket set sail for home after three out but he was back on terms at the last before forging eight lengths clear on the flat. The winner was bought by Alexander for £7000 at Doncaster Sales last May, having previously scored five times under Rules. "I decided to make plenty use of him as he is a proven stayer and I think he will be even better on more testing ground," he said.
After steering Another Dark Rum to victory in a Sedgefield Hunters' Chase on Sunday, the in-form Nick Orpwood recorded his 40th career success between the flags on Milano Magic in the N B Lancaster NPPA Club Members Race. The 9 year old, who had ended a four year losing run at Crossford on March 21, edged in front close home to secure a short head verdict over the odds-on favourite, Master Butcher. The win provided another tonic for the gelding's regular pilot and trainer, Gemma Cochrane who is sidelined for the rest of the season with a collarbone injury.
The concluding Pioneer Open Maiden Race produced another exciting finish, which saw the tiring leader, Mister Kit headed on the run-in by Pharawaydante and Scuderia. There was not much to choose between the latter duo until Pharawaydante edged in front well inside the last fifty yards to score by a neck and provide Ross Wilson with his first winner of the season. Wilson, who rides out for Nicky Richards and is coached by Brian Harding, said: "They went quick enough on the first circuit and he just kept finding more down the home straight as the leader's stride shortened."
This was a richly deserved training success for Norman Sanderson, a full-time joiner from Hamilton and uncle of the winning rider. After losing his other pointer at the Jedforest meeting on January 25, he saw Pharawaydante advertised for sale in Northern Ireland on the internet and went over himself to conclude a deal before returning on the ferry with the 7 year old in his horse trailer.