Richard Smith was the jockey in form at the Middleton point-to-point on Sunday, riding a double and also achieving a career highlight by taking the prestigious Grimthorpe Gold Cup for the first time. Rain in the week leading up to the meeting meant the ground was officially soft, good to soft in places which impacted on the number of runners slightly but there was still a good turn out and the racing was very competitive.
Richard's first win came in the opening McClarrons Insurance hunt race aboard Susan Mason's Comedinewithme. Only four went to post and the field was tightly grouped throughout with Botany Cove leading the way. Comedinewithme was held onto until the last possible minute before being produced by Richard to win by six lengths from Botany Cove and Jacqueline Coward in second and Six A Side finished third for Will Milburn.
Riding One Conemara for Jacqueline Coward in the four mile Grimthorpe Gold Cup Richard rode a very positive race. "It's been the plan all year so I'm delighted we've pulled it off! Said the winning trainer. He was always handy and tracked Monsieur Jourdain who made most of the running but a bad jump four out put paid to his attempt to win the race for a record fourth time. Tom Strawson pushed Max My Boy most of the way round and went into the lead close to home but One Conemara went on to assert and win by eight lengths from Max My Boy with the Will Easterby ridden Monsieur Jourdain coming home in third. "He definitely travelled better with the blinkers," enthused Jacqueline, "I'm hoping to run him in the four mile hunterchase at Cheltenham at the end of the month," she continued.
Jacqueline herself was aboard a winner as The Highlander once again trounced his field in the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate. Only three of the seven starters finished and The Highlander led from start to finish putting in another immaculate round of jumping. "I didn't know what to expect as this has been has hardest test yet but I was delighted with the way he ran," said Jacqueline. "I would think about the final at Cheltenham with him but it would have to be soft," she added. Kelly Morgan and Agent For Chaos finished in second and Bedford Forrest partnered by Will Milburn was third.
Stephanie Easterby trained a winner on home turf with Carlton Ryan in the Ray Chapman Motors Members Conditions race. Ridden by Will Easterby, the pair managed to peg back All Great N Theory and Claire Hart who had made all, to win by two lengths. Twentypoundluck finished third for Paul Collins.
It was a first for owner Chris Beal and jockey Harry Kinder as Refusal landed the Browns of York and Helmsley Open Maiden race. Trainer Guy Brewer put his win down to a change in riding tactics, "He was held up when ridden on the track but he had two years off before his first point-to-point run and has returned quite keen. He is an excellent jumper and we had to use this asset to our advantage." Speaking of his jockey Guy said, "I've seen him ride for other people and been impressed with Harry. I thought he gave him a peach of a ride." Four Oceans was beaten a short head into second under William Easterby and Lady Nefertiti was a distance back in third for Will Milburn.
Racing finished with the York Van Centre 4,5,6 and 7 year old race for maidens which have never run under rules and was over the shorter distance of two miles four furlongs. Cloghouge Boy managed to capitalise on the promise he has shown all season to take this easily under Emma Todd by twenty lengths from Rowdy Robin and Richard Smith and the four year old debutant Impulsive Act was five lengths further back in third. Cloghouge Boy's owner trainer Gill Boanas suggested the Aintree bumper could be his target or a trip to the sales. "I'd love to hang onto him as I think he'll be even better next year as he's strengthening with every run," she enthused.
The next Yorkshire meeting is the Bedale at Hornby Castle on Saturday 9th April.