Nick Orpwood took his seasonal tally to 18 and at the same time extended his lead over Tom Hamilton in the Northern Area Jockeys Championship to 15pts with a short-priced double on Chaz Michaels and Milano Magic in Sunday's Haydon fixture at a windswept Hexham Racecourse.
The previously unraced Chaz Michaels was the subject of one of the biggest gambles of the season in the Graham Reader Motor Engineer Open Maiden Race after being backed down from 8/1 to 2/1 favourite, and his supporters were counting their winnings some way from the finish. Kinder Scout made virtually every yard of the running under a positive ride from Ross Chapman but had nothing more to give when Chaz Michaels swept past him after jumping the last before pulling eight lengths clear.
This was a first training success for Lea Francioni with her first runner. She studied at Art School in Italy before moving to Sligo with her family. After starting last summer at Mark McNiff's yard, she subsequently headed across the Irish Sea to join Lucinda Russell's Milnathort team as a work rider. Winning owner, Derek Fox, a conditional jockey based with Lucinda Russell, said of the 5 year old: ''I bought him privately in Ireland last October. He had been schooling well at home and I fancied him a lot in what looked a fairly weak race.''
Milano Magic hasn't looked back since ending a four year losing run at Crossford in March and his latest success in the Hadrian Electrical Engineering Ltd Intermediate Race completed a four-timer and Orpwood's double. Sent on three out, the 9 year old had the prize sewn up by the next and coasted home twelve lengths ahead of The Gotfor Man. Orpwood commented: '' I had to get him stoked up heading out on the final circuit but he fairly powered down the hill after four out,'' while winning trainer, Gemma Cochrane added: ''He has taken his racing well all season and is likely to return here in a fortnight for the Border fixture.''
De Bee Keeper is still on an upward curve and completed his hat-trick in the Chesterwood Bastle Holiday Cottage South Northumberland Hunts Club Members Race to give jockey, Ross Chapman the perfect send-off before he joins the paid ranks as a conditional this week. He held the lead all the way from five out and stayed on well from the second last to beat Fozy Moss by four lengths. The 7 year old is owned and trained by Iveston farrier, Russell Ross, uncle of Chapman, who said: ''I thought he would appreciate better ground after tackling far more testing underfoot conditions on his last two starts. He was still galloping on strongly into a strong headwind up the finishing straight and has earned himself a long break over the summer.''
After being denied his first winner when Flying Central was carried out by a loose horse in the closing stages at Mosshouses last time, Gary Beaumont, 19, made amends on Doreen Calder's home-bred 7 year old mare in the two and a half mile Peggy Genner Open Maiden Race. Never headed on the final circuit, Beaumont's mount comfortably held off the favourite, Mafate Fortin from two out to score by three lengths. Beaumont, who works full-time for Hawick trainer, Alistair Whillans, said: ''She is still a bit green but is very gutsy and jumped for fun most of the way.''
From an original high class entry of 23 for the Ladycross Quarry Mixed Open Race, only 4 faced the starter, 2 from Yorkshire and 2 from Scotland. The brilliant Ockey De Neulliac easily defied top weight of 12st 7lb to make it 11 wins from 16 starts over the last seventeen months since joining West Witton handler, Neil Mechie. Given an aggressive, front-running ride by Catherine Walton, the 13 year old galloped his three rivals into submission and cruised home twenty lengths in front of Scots Gaelic in the best time of the day. Mechie said of his stable star: ''He's still in great form after a long hard season and I'll see how he comes out of the race before deciding whether he runs at Wetherby, Stratford or Hexham later in the month.''
Farm Pixie justified favouritism with his second win of the campaign in the Sonia Swallow of Dotland Park Restricted Race. Always going well under Charlotte Dun, the 9 year old disputed the lead with Smart Act from the tenth until being sent on six out. He repelled a sustained challenge from According To Dan from four out before drawing clear on the long run-in to score by a cosy two lengths. Blainslie-based owner/trainer, Kathy Weir, aunt of the winning jockey, confirmed that this was her charge's last run of the season. Dun said: ''He's a star. He jumped superbly today and stayed on strongly all the way to the line.''
The Karen Lynn-trained gelding, Viacometti upset several more fancied rivals to land the WMH Farm Fresh Meats NPPA Club Members Race in the hands of Chris Dawson. He made rapid headway down the back straight to head the pace-setting Nelly La Rue on the home turn approaching two out. In command and three lengths up at the last from The Brig At Ayr, the 6 year old easily maintained that advantage to the line. Bought by Hawick-based Kenneth Lynn for £2750 out of Tom George's yard at Doncaster Sales last September, he had won a Perth Bumper on debut for his previous yard in May 2013 before being placed only once in seven subsequent starts under Rules.
After scoring on Go Teescomponents in the final race of the Yorkshire season at Mordon the previous day, this rounded off a good weekend for Dawson, who said: ''He has certainly got an engine and bolted up, never coming off the bridle. He pricked his ears and quickened up nicely after three out and had plenty left in the tank at the finish.''