Askham Bryan College was host to the Badsworth and Bramham point to point this easter Saturday and was the first of two Yorkshire meetings this weekend, the second of which took place at Charm Park near Wykeham on Bank Holiday Monday. Last years Yorkshire Ladies champion Emma Todd struck gold and racked up a double on the card, the most notable victory coming in the Ladies Open aboard Drom.
Emma started her winning sequence aboard the Andy Nicholls trained Shabach in the Subaru Restricted. Nicholls saddled two in the race and with usual jockey Will Milburn aboard Martha's Benefit, Emma Todd stepped in for the ride. The pair were never far away, tracking the leaders and turning in the pair stayed on strongly to collar long time leader Beau Traveller to win by half a length with Mr Bingley and Max Johnson in third, showing their first glimmers of form in a long time. Nicholls string is in great form at the moment with this taking his tally to four winners for the season from nine runners, that's a strike rate of 44% one that most professional trainers would be delighted with. The winner failed to shine in novice chases in the autumn but has shown some good form now returned to points, "I've been hacking him up the hills and round the villages. I was out for an hour and half on him the other day" commented Andy's partner Fiona Mudd, who believes this has sweetened him up nicely.
Emma's double was complete with the prolific winner Drom and in typical "Drom fashion" he led from the flag fall and never saw another rival - out of the other two contenders, Frontier Spirit came out on top for second, but never looked like landing a blow under Jacqueline Coward, whilst Scots Gaelic was third and completed the trio under Fi McSharry. Drom holds an entry in the Aintree Foxhunters a week on Thursday and this could be a possibility for this popular 13yo, "He's had an easy race there, we're going to school him over the Aintree fences at Malton and see how he gets on, but Aintree is a possility" said Emma Todd who is excited at the chance at competing in one of the amatuers greatest races.
One of the most prolific pointers in recent times in Yorkshire, My Old Piano, trained by Sarah Easterby, added another victory to his belt as took the Men's Open under Will Easterby. Restrained well in rear, the pair made smooth headway throughout and after taking a narrow lead at the last stayed on strongly to make it win number 29. My Old Piano has been lightly raced so far this season but at the age of 14 hasn't lost any zest. It was also the first time he has been partnered by Will Easterby who was overjoyed with his win, "Wow, there's no wonder he's won so many races, he's some engine, he's awesome!" said Easterby.
The opening race was the Confined and went the way of John Dawson aboard the Ian Mason trained Pertemps Network. The pair caused somewhat of an upset being nearly the outsider of six, but a gutsy effort from the front saw him battle on well to beat Rosie Du Berlais and Elliot Brookbanks, the favourite, Things Change however could not reach the winner and came home in third. The winner has never threatened the judge in points, however a change in tactics seems to have worked the oracle, "He doesn't really stay, but now he's getting on a bit he's got a bit slow, so we thought he might be better been in front!" said Jo Mason, who also added that it was down to her father Ian who rides him out, "It's all the weight training he's been doing" she joked.
The Open Maiden went to Max Johnson and Zandino - the pair were a good second at Duncombe Park but were disappointing when been badly hampered at Charm Park, but bounced back here in good style. Always going well, the pair went to the fore in the straight and stayed on well to the line, Danny Mags travelled strongly into the home straight but couldn't match the winner, whilst Twelveoclockhigh was showing his best form for a while.
The final race of the day went to Opera Og and Sean Murray, the pair were always going easily and eased clear after the last to win well. Cian Boy was second and this was a much improved effort on previous form, whilst Pindar was third under Anna Fairbank, however it was the second week in a row where a rider has been disqualified for taking the wrong course, in this case it was first time rider Charlotte Kemp and Mister Wall Street who finished third - the pair missed a marker in the early part of the race, however it was a strong performance and the pair should make amends in the near future.
Confined - Pertemps Network John Dawson 16-1
Restricted - Shabach Emma Todd 5-1
Men's Open - My Old Piano Will Easterby 5-4FAV
Open Maiden - Zandino Max Johnson 5-1
Ladies Open - Drom Emma Todd 4-7FAV
Novice Riders - Opera Og Sean Murray 10-11FAV