The Tynedale Hunt's diamond anniversary fixture took place at the Downhills course near Corbridge on Sunday and proved to be a resounding success with 64 runners on perfect going in front of a bumper crowd. John Dawson, 27, claimed top honours as he joined an elite band of Northern jockeys to ride 100 career winners between the flags with a double on One Conemara and Glittering Love.
Tom Hamilton extended his lead over Kit Alexander in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship to 16pts after partnering his sixth winner of the season on Pieceoftheaction in the Lycetts Insurance Brokers Riders Conditions Race. Always going well, his mount took it up two out from Leavethelighton (Charlotte Crane) and quickened again going to the last to secure a two lengths verdict. This completed a hat-trick in the space of five weeks for the 5 year old Oscar gelding, who was bought privately in December by George White after showing promise in a couple of Irish Maiden contests.
There was a popular local success for another Oscar gelding, Exit Ten, owned, trained and ridden by Charlotte Tailford in the Mick Watson Memorial 4,5,6 & 7 year olds Open Maiden Race sponsored by Euro Hostels. The lightly raced 7 year old was still three lengths behind Jupiters Way (Joe Wright) at the last but finished like an express train to get his head in front near the line. This was a second career success for Charlotte, 20, who works part-time for Rothbury trainer, Jimmy Walton as well as helping out on the family farm near Haydon Bridge.
Fife raider, Chanceiton was prominent from the off in the Patrons Club Restricted Race under a confident ride from Cameron Wadge. Apart from almost being carried out after the seventh fence, the 7 year old had a trouble-free run and, after hitting the front with a circuit to go, left his rivals toiling from three out to score by six lengths from Lord Usher (Kate Leckenby).
Cameron said of the Lucinda Russell-trained winner; "He's a different horse on better ground and had his ears pricked all the way."
Joe O'Shea's near 350 mile round trip from Cheshire paid dividends as his only runner, Fair Exchange landed the Knight Frank 8 year olds and over Open Maiden Race under Gillon Crow. Always in the leading quartet, the 8 year old Beneficial gelding went on with Treliver Manor (Liam Ruddy) from five out before finding extra when the chips were down to win by one and a half lengths. O'Shea's charge is a half brother to Peter Bowen's prolific winning chaser, Forever My Friend. Here Comes Love posted a career-best effort in third for Tom Hamilton and could be worth following at his home meeting at Overton on Saturday 24th March.
A welcome return to the saddle for Joey Richards proved to be one to remember as she steered her own 11 year old gelding, Scarlet Fire to an impressive four lengths victory over the favourite, Knocklong (Charlotte Crane) in the Womble Bond Dickinson Ladies Open Race in the best time of the day. They had the prize between them from five out and a better jump at the last helped Joey's mount clinch a four lengths success. The winner failed to fire under Rules for Brian Harding and Ryan Day but Joey has a 72% strike rate on him.
The North's top stayer, One Conemara provided John Dawson with a 99th Pointing winner in the 3m5f Brewin Dolphin Men's Open Race. The John Nellis-owned 10 year old gelding has bags of stamina and kept on strongly from three out to overhaul Whisperdale (Alex Chadwick) and For Yes (Kit Alexander) from two out and land the coveted William Bell Gold Cup for the third year in a row. Both the placed horses posted career-high marks and clearly appreciated a sounder surface. The Cherry Coward-trained winner started his career with Nicky Henderson and actually made a winning racecourse debut when dead-heating in a Uttoxeter Bumper on 14th June 2012.
Glittering Love completed John's red letter day and a training double for Joey in the Land Factor NPPA Conditions Race, forging clear from two out to beat Weston Flame (Joe Wright) by eight lengths. This 6 year old Winged Love gelding, who was well beaten on all four starts under rules last season, has been leased to Joey Richards by Paul and Claire Rooney on the understanding that he stays between the flags. He is still on an upward curve and has now completed a hat-trick in the space of five weeks.
As well as John's 100 Pointing winners, he has ridden another 39 winners under Rules. He made his debut a few days after his 16th birthday on Red Rose Dixie in the Cleveland Hunt Members at Stainton Vale on 15th April 2006 and the George Sunter-trained gelding, Benwell provided him with a first winner in the the Cleveland Hunt Members at Mordon on 15th April 2007.
The main action was preceded by two pony races sponsored by Mowden Hall School. The 6 runner 138cm contest over four and a half furlongs went to Ninefield Millionaires Splendour ridden by Elliot Stockwell with Haydon Bridge youngster, Ella Pigg in second place on Spirit and Patrick's Wish (Nick Barratt-Atkin) in third.
The 10 runner 148cm contest over six and a half furlongs resulted in another easy win for Judge Fox (Archie Frank) with the minor places filled by Springs (Sarah Longthorn) and Hawkesfield Flyer (Joshua Thompson).
The first five meetings of the season have attracted 227 runners with an average of 6.88 per race. The Northern Area season resumes on Sunday 11th March with the College Valley & North Northumberland fixture at Alnwick, which includes the first Point-to-Point Flat Race in the North.