Monday afternoon saw the easing of Covid restrictions across the country and allowed grassroots sports to return, it was a very welcome return of point to point action in Yorkshire as the Hurworth did a fantastic job at staging their meeting behind closed doors at Hutton Rudby.
Social distancing and numerous other strict Covid regulations were in place at the track as 49 horses were declared and went to post on the day and Yorkshires leading rider John Dawson started off where he left things last season and scored a double on the day.
John Dawson took the opening Hunt Members race aboard the Stevie Cook trained Sartorial Elegance, the pair looked well in command from two out after the departure of Champagne To Go and Vent d'Automne. The pair had only the efforts of Phil Greaves and Neville Woods to fend and did so with relative ease "he's a totally different horse when fitted with blinkers, I made sure the leaders were always within sight but I felt we were always going the better when the others departed" said Dawson. The win has been well hunted with the Hurworth earlier in the year and this 10yo looks to be capable of winning more races of this nature in the future.
Dawson book ended the card with the Sarah Dent trained Fire Rock, the winners form was previously uninspiring but if you looked close enough, he departed late on when holding every chance on his first point to point start and stormed through here passed his rivals on the run in to score "to be fair he has been a bit unlucky last season, but I was confident he would pick up after the last" said John, it was also a good day for the winners trainer Sarah Dent with all three of her runners making the frame "we rode him a bit handier today, I thought it might best to let him see his fences and allow him to concentrate a bit more" said the winning trainer. Mick Easterby nearly had an early birthday present as the runner up Thornton Le Clay hung on the run in under Joe Wright to come home in second, whilst the Will Easterby trained 4yo Line n' Length made a very encouraging debut under his trainer and should be following up very soon.
The easiest victory of the day came in the Mens Open with the Jack Teal trained and ridden Matts Commission, the pair were bouncing back from a disappointing return in a Leicester Hunter Chase and looks to have stripped much fitter for that effort. The pair led four out and never looked in danger, stretching clear on the run in to score easily and record Jacks 50th winner in the saddle, the winner could now target the prestigious Buccleuch Cup at Kelso on April 11th. The places were filled by Welsh raider Ray Owen with African Belle and Fred Timmis, followed by Monsun Storm and John Dawson in third.
The Conditions race would see a surprise victory from the Rosie Howarth inmate in Merrion Avenue, always towards the rear the winner gradually worked his way into the race and over the last looked booked for third, however a storming run down the outside saw the pair snatch victory from the idling southern raider in Hawkhurst and Will Biddick who could only muster third and the early pace setter McMurphy and Jack Teal in second. Bought privately out of Ireland the winner has only previously won a maiden and so was taking a step up in grade "he had form figures of 1P2 in Ireland before Christmas in good company and a recent run in a Catterick Hunter Chase blew the cobwebs away" said the winning rider.
The Ladies Open saw an eventful finish with the eventual winner Son Of Suzie returning to form after some lacklustre efforts under rules. Plagued by a loose horse on the run in, likely winner Seefood and Lottie Crane along with eventual runner up Kildaven Spider were badly interfered with after the last allowing Amie Waugh's charge to storm through and win narrowly from a rallying Kildaven Spider who was making its point to point debut "a recent outing over hurdles at Carlisle tuned him up nicely for this... he enjoys the slower pace of pointing" said the winning rider/trainer.
The Veteran Conditions race saw a patiently ridden Game As A Pheasant storm clear after the last to win nicely and give Jack Andrews a winner from his only ride on the card, the winner was down the field when last seen at Alnwick earlier in the year, but has shown a clear liking for this better ground "they went some pace, so we just sat out the back and let them get on with it" said the winning rider. Trained by Cherry Coward the winner was named by rider Jack Teal who schooled the horse as a youngster and after been asked his thoughts described him as "game as a pheasant". Winged Crusader tried to make most of the running but had to settle for second, whilst the second of Alan Hill's two raiders could only manage third under Will Biddick.