Quality and quantity were the order of the day as the Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point Club kicked of the area's opening meeting in style. The first race had to be split on the day leading to an eight race card to complete before the dark set in.
Junior who was last seen running under rules at Ascot in March made a winning debut to his point-to-pointing career in the Browns Department Store Mens Open, which was also a first point-to-point win for his owners, Middleham Park Racing, with their first runner. Always to the fore he looked comfortable and happy in this sphere. The main challenge came from Woodview Prince and although the pair played cat and mouse over the last couple of fences it was Junior that kept finding a bit more each time he was asked by Richard Smith and came out two lengths ahead of Woodview Prince and Tom David. Bobs Law who had travelled to the course from Wales was back in third for Peter Bryant and Young Hurricane and Richard Tierney finished in fourth. 'He's come out of the race well,' said a jubilant Nicky Tinkler. 'We haven't got any long term plans for him, the main aim is to keep him sweet and happy and we will look for another race in the next three to four weeks. I'll probably take him hunting before he runs again.' Nicky added.
In the Coral Bookmakers sponsored Ladies equivalent, Ockey De Neulliac repeated his fine victory of last year for Neil Mechie and jockey Catherine Walton and triumphed by two and a half lengths. His jumping was excellent but he was kept up to his work by Carlton Ryan and Joanna Mason, who was contesting open grade for the first time, however Ockey De Neulliac powered clear on the run to the line and wasn't going to be pegged back. Ben's Folly was a further fifteen lengths back in third for Lorna Brooke and Gansey was fourth under Jacqueline Coward. Gansey looked like he would benefit from the run.
The day started with two divisions of Chris Hoggard Memorial Point-to-Point Club Conditions Race, where riders who were not deemed to be novices at the start of the season carried a 5lb penalty. This is always a very popular race and after 18 declarations, division one was split on the day! Most of the running was made by Mister Splodge and Chris Dawson who ended up in third. Approaching the last he was swallowed up by Fureys Bar and Sportingfriendship, with Jack Teal's mount Fureys Bar getting up by a short head from Joanna Mason and Sportingfriendship in second. Part B went the way of Cottage Oak, ridden by Gillon Crow, trained by Joe O'shea, the first leg of a double on the day for the Cheshire based keeper. Minella For Streak was 12 lengths further back in second under Tommie O'Brien with Raydini and Jane Williams in third.
O'Shea's double was completed with Missing The Babe in the Coniston Hotel Restricted Race. Also partnered by Gillon Crow the pair won by two lengths from According to Dan and John Dawson in second. Drivehomeregardles was third under Leo Mahon and this horse seems to keep finding one too good.
Division Two of the club race was won by Banny's Lad, partnered by Jacqueline Coward for Stephanie Easterby. The pair beat Joe O'Shea's fast finishing Best Served Cold, ridden by Gillon Crow by a head, although there was some controversy over the decision, Jacqueline was certain the line had come in time for her. Royal Deal was urged to race handily throughout by Joanna Mason and was half a length back in third with Railway Dillon in fourth under Emma Todd on his pointing debut.
John Dawson made a winning return to the amateur ranks by taking the Crombie Wilknson Open Maiden on Darlington County. Trained by Caroline Dennis, Darlington County took a strong hold to get into an early lead but was restrained and returned to the head of affairs as they went out for the final circuit and beat Norton Grove and William Easterby by two lengths. Dido was back in third for Dale Peters and was the only other to finish.
The final race of the day was the four, five, six and seven year old Open Maiden race over the shorter distance of 2m4f and kindly sponsored by Cundalls. A full field of 16 went to post where Jack Jordan rode his first winner, owned by his mother on The Manager. It was very close at the last fence with the first four all looking for a good jump, however the Nicky Tinkler trainer Morianour fell and brought down Part And Parcel, which made The Manager's task slightly easier. Lebanna and William Easterby were a head down in second and Anddante ran a good race to come third. Aldreth finished fourth for Joanna Mason and could improve for the run.
All in all it was an exciting day's racing and money made on the day, including proceeds from a raffle will be donated to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.