Scottish jockeys Kit Alexander, Kelly Bryson, Tom Hamilton and Rachael McDonald all had a winner in Sunday's well supported Border Hunt fixture at a sun-drenched Hexham Racecourse. 60 runners from yards as far away as Derbyshire, Fife and York faced the starter on the seven race card, the third highest total on the Northern Area circuit this season.
Cave Hunter was back to his best as he landed the Northumberland Sporting Clays Men's Open Race in course record time to give regular pilot, Tom Hamilton, 20, his 50th career winner between the flags. Dictating a strong pace from the outset, the 9 year old was briefly headed over three out and the next by Probably George before regaining the initiative at the last and pulling twelve lengths clear on the run-in. Cave Hunter has now won 10 of his 22 career starts.
His owner, Niel Manning said: "First time blinkers have made a big difference and he's finally got his favoured good ground. His next target is the Kelso Hunters' Chase on Sunday 29th May which he won last year." For the record, Hamilton's first winner came on Silk And Roses at Overton on 24 March 2012 and he has also ridden 16 winners under Rules.
Lockiesedge provided Galashiels handler, Murray Scott with a first training success in the Ward Hadaway Open Maiden Race and, at the same time, provided Kelly Bryson with her 60th career winner between the flags. The 10 year old finally overhauled Sheriff Hutton raider, Mr Conductor after the last and stayed on strongly to score by three lengths. Scott said: "He suffered a severe tendon injury several years ago at Mosshouses and I thought he might never race again. The patience of owner, Alex Cook has finally been rewarded but unfortunately he finished lame."
Anzinger provided Kit Alexander with his 9th winner of the season in the Par Petroleum Restricted Race to leave him 16pts ahead of Tom Hamilton in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship with only next Sunday's Haydon fixture remaining. Victor Thompson's 10 year old gelding took a keen hold from the off and was always lying close up before hitting the front four out. Gradually winding up the pace after the next, he had his rivals in trouble when sent 2 lengths clear two out and kept on well to beat Beyond The Glen by a comfortable four lengths.
The talented Rachael McDonald gave Barachois Silver a peach of a ride from the front in the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares Club Members Race. More fancied Yorkshire rivals, Wizadora and Chip N Pin tried hard to get past her on the final circuit but always appeared to be fighting a losing battle as the 12 year old stuck to her task in determined fashion, extending her one length advantage over Chip N Pin at the last to four lengths at the line. Jim Pate's mare has now won 4 times at Hexham and this was her first success since landing a Perth Hunters' Chase on 14 May 2014. McDonald has now ridden 20 winners under all codes and said of Barachois Silver: "That's the best she's travelled and jumped all season on ground much quicker than she usually prefers."
Steely Addition was one of the most impressive winners of the season in the two and a half mile Carrs Billington Open Maiden Race for 4, 5 & 6 year olds. Given a supremely confident ride by John Dawson, the youngster cruised into second place four out behind Worcester Pearmain before quickening clear from two out to score by fifteen lengths.
Sedgefield-based owner/trainer, Chris Dawson said: "I bought him for 3500 euros as an unbroken 3 year old at Tattersalls Ireland National Hunt Sale last August. He's been working better than our Ladies Open winner, Sposalizio on the gallops at home and I knew he was spot on for his debut. Like all of our own horses, he's for sale at the right price," while younger brother, John added: 'He's an exciting prospect and I never had an anxious moment as he gave me an armchair ride."
Battle Range returned from a five week break to outclass his ten rivals in the Le Petit Chateau Ladies Open Race. Always going well for the in-form Jacqueline Coward, he took it up four out and despite being eased right down on the run-in still had six lengths to spare over Sharivarry at the line.
Coward, who also trains the 9 year old for York farmer, Richard Morris, said: "I've always known he was a seriously good horse. It takes a lot of time to get him fit but he has a great engine with plenty of gears and he's the only horse that makes me wish I wasn't retiring at the end of the season."
Dun Faw Good returned to form under Catherine Walton with a cosy ten lengths victory over Farm Pixie in the Tony Ward Memorial NPPA Club Members Race. His owner, Tom Oates remarked: "That's a big relief. He had been coughing and generally under the weather for six or seven weeks but has finally come right. He'll probably run again later in the month at Kelso or Cartmel."
The Northern Area season concludes with the Haydon fixture at Hexham Racecourse on Sunday 22nd May.