GLORIOUS weather ensured the crowds were out in force at the Derwent Hunt Point to Point to witness some of the most competitive racing seen so far this season on the first spring like day of the year at the weekend.
The spectators were privy to a first, a double and a treble and one of the most impressive winners seen for a long time.
Racing started with the Derwent and Staintondale Hunt Members, Subscribers and Farmers Race. All six entered ran and bar one pull up after nearly a circuit, a blanket would have covered the field up to the second last.
It was Andre Chenier and Chris Cundall that made the break for the lead, but they were always shadowed by Oh So Serious and Max Johnson, who followed him around the final bend before drawing level at the last fence and going clear on the run in to win by three lengths.
This was a first for trainer Sue Kirby who is based nearby and was very keen to win her Members race.
Winning jockey Max Johnson said: “We were debating which race we should run in as he was also entered in the Maiden but Sue really wanted to win this and I felt the better ground at the start of the day would suit him.”
The Confined race was the start of a treble for trainer Nicky Tinkler, owner Steve Knowles and stallion Desideratum, as well as a double for jockey Richard Smith.
Having won his Maiden at this course last year, Our Sandy made this three wins from four starts.
Always prominent, the main danger was Dica, but having been held up and running wide for most of the race, he was never able to quite get on terms. Steve Knowles stands Desideratum at his Beechwood Grange stud, near York and still has the mares.
The second leg of the double for Richard Smith came on Desilvano in the last race, the second division of the Maiden race which was also the quicker of the two. Desilvano has looked good, finishing third on his first run at Sheriff Hutton and second at the Sinnington meeting so this win wasn’t a surprise. The biggest challenge came from Six A Side and Will Milburn, who looked like they just might ruin the Tinkler/ Knowles/Smith party until challenging wide after the final bend put paid to his chances, making mistake at the last where Will was thrown up the horses neck and unbalanced nearly to the point of no return.
It was a remarkable recovery that many jockey would not have been able to come back from. William Easterby managed to get a clear round from Oscar Romeo to finish third.
Electing to ride his own Mistissio in the Restricted race, Richard Tierney stepped in to ride Bramble Vodka, the third Desideratum to bring up the treble.
Richard, a naturally talented rider, has been absent from the point-to-point circuit for some time, after being disqualified for two years after being found in breach of regulation 161(v) when he engaged in the running of a ringer in two races back in 2006.
He clearly retains his inborn horsemanship and looked as tidy as ever while leading the field a merry dance. Stating his intentions with just over a circuit to go, Richard went to the front of the pack and kept putting lengths between him and his rivals. Never once looking like he would come back to the field, the pair powered on and bar the odd sketchy jump, probably the result of being in front on his own for so long looked the winner from a long way out, winning by a distance in the joint fastest time of the day.
Winning trainer Nicky Tinkler said: “I was a bit disappointed with her run at Friars Haugh, but I’ve come to realise that she needs longer than two weeks between her races. She definitely runs better fresh.
“I am hopeful that all three will run again, probably at the Middleton, but Desilvano and Bramble Vodka will probably head to the May sale. Hopefully we will keep Our Sandy for a bit of fun and I wouldn’t rule out a hunter chase.”
The time of the restricted was matched by the Men’s Open. My Old Piano, who had sweated up before the start, pulled up after only three fences with jockey, Harry Bannister, reporting the saddle to have slipped. The race then turned into a procession led by Drom and Will Kitchman whose jumping was near perfect . In second was Avinapaddy and Richard Smith, with Zitenka and William Easterby back in third.
The Rucker family once again headed north in search of good ground and were duly rewarded again when Sagalyrique won the Ladies Open under Angela Rucker.
Elusive Swallow put up another gutsy performance but was held in second, where 3m4f in soft, holding ground a week earlier probably took its toll.
Alice Petch received the biggest cheer of the day when ridding her first winner in the PPORA Club Members Race for Veteran and Novice Riders on Oaklands Robbie for trainer Graham Russ. The pair have been knocking on the door for a while now and having finished second twice already this season it was no surprise to see them go one better. Pushed all the way to the line by Byways Boy and Christy Furness, it would be no surprise to see this pair in the winners slot again this season.
The first division of the Maiden race was won by Probably George, piloted by Chris Dawson. Winning at the fifth time of asking, the grey jumped his way to the front to hold on well from R Theveryman and Jacqueline Coward. Skimbleshanks and Joanna Mason were back in third and both of these look like they can follow up this season.