Northern Area trainers, Tim Brockbank, Caroline Crow and Joanne Martin-Mayland all sent out their first winners of the campaign at the well supported Cumberland fixture at Heathfield near Aspatria on Saturday, and there was also a first double for Northumbrian handler, Drew Holmes.
Nickwillis made virtually all in the Hopes Auction Company Ltd North West Hunts Club Members Race to give 17 year old Cameron Wadge a first winner in his second season as a jockey. Well clear from two out, the 11 year old home-bred gelding beat Supreme Regime by eight lengths. The winner is trained at Heathfield by Cumberland Foxhounds Joint Master, Tim Brockbank, who said: "He loves top of the ground and has a high cruising speed. He's a versatile sort as he's just as happy out hunting with me and you wouldn't think he'd been in a race as he was hardly blowing at the finish."
Fight Away Boys ended a lean spell for Bonjedward near Jedburgh trainer, Caroline Crow in the Simon Huntington Ltd NPPA Club Members Race. He had plenty in hand, strolling home by fifteen lengths from Great Gusto in the best time of the day. Well ridden by Nick Orpwood, the 8 year old had cruised into contention on the final circuit before hitting the front three out and steadily forged clear from the next. Winning owner, Ronald Barber explained that the gelding's poor run in the Buccleuch Cup last time was caused by internal ulcers. Orpwood said: "I was very confident he would win turning into the home straight with three to jump. He needs a sound surface to produce his best and could have gone round again." Orpwood rounded off a great weekend by landing the Bilsdale Mixed Open at Easingwold the following day on Billing.
There was a welcome change of fortune for North Tyne handler, Joanne Martin-Mayland, who sent out her first winner for almost three years in the Richard Harrison & Sons Open Maiden Race with Hewhodareswins. With regular pilot, Harry Reed riding for Lucinda Russell at Hexham Races, Gary Beaumont proved an able deputy on the 7 year old, who was bought privately after failing to reach his reserve of £900 at Ascot Sales in November. Never far behind the leaders, he took it up from Lockiesedge after two out to score by one and a half lengths. After chasing home The Highlander and New Vic on his first start for the yard at Corbridge on February 28, he found only subsequent Buccleuch Cup winner, New Vic too good next time at Friars Haugh and this success on his return from an eight week break suggests that there is still more to come.
The unfancied Carlicue caused the biggest upset of the day by taking the William Hare Ltd Men's Open Race under a typically positive ride from Tristan Davidson. Dictating the pace from the outset, the 11 year old jumped well and repelled the challenges of Allthekingshorses and Two Stroke in the closing stages to beat the latter by one and a half lengths. The odds-on favourite, Allthekingshorses was still about one length down when a last fence mistake unseated Jamie Alexander. Once trained by Paul Nicholls, the winner is in his second season with Lady Susan Watson, who made the 270 mile round trip from Bossall near York to saddle two runners on her first visit to the course. Last month's first visit to Tranwell near Morpeth was also productive as one of her two runners that day, T C Spitfire made all in the Men's Open.
Five Piers initiated a training double for Longhorsley-based handler, Drew Holmes in the Subaru Restricted Race. On his first start since June 2014, the highly regarded 8 year old led all the way and had one length to spare over Anzinger at the line. Holmes said: "He's been working well at home alongside my 3 Open horses and is an exciting prospect. I'll probably give him one more run this season in the two and a half mile Haydon Intermediate Race at Hexham on Sunday 22nd May."
Drew's girlfriend, Jacqueline Coward, 30, joined an elite band of lady jockeys who have ridden 150 winners between the flags after taking the D.A.Harrison Ladies Open Race on Beggar's Velvet. The 10 year old led three out and had three lengths to spare over Sharivarry. His next target is a Kelso Hunters' Chase on Sunday 29th May.
For the record, Jacqueline's first winner came on Silver Groom at Witton Castle in February 2004 with her 100th Pointing victory coming on Arctic Pride at Whitwell-on-the-Hill in April 2013. She has also ridden 21 winners under Rules and so, in her final season as a jockey, has every chance of reaching a career tally of 175 under all codes.