It was a fantastic day this weekend at Witton Castle where the Cleveland hunt staged their annual meeting, John Dawson struck up a double, along with Cherry Coward who also trained two winners on the day, with the ground officially riding as good to firm.
Although riding well all season it was a slight relief for rider Lottie Crane who getting off the mark between the flags for the season in the Open Maiden race aboard her fathers Caviar d'Allen. Having his first start for Justin Landy the winner had some handy form in maiden company already this season, the pair travelled strongly in behind the green looking runner up until approaching the last and stayed on well to win, Teescomponents Boy and Phil Armson filled second and no doubt he can win one before the end of the season, whilst Balance Sheet and Joe Wright came home in third. The winner is a former Christian Williams inmate who was placed numerous times over hurdles where he recorded a BHA mark of around 105 and along with his progressive profile in points should have more to come.
The Men's Open saw a resurgence of form from the course specialist Sposalizio under Tom Strawson, the son of Dr Thong has shown little form this season but back in his favoured firm ground he bounded clear from four out and win by around a fence with his head in his chest for trainer Chris Dawson and owner John Armstrong, Matts Commission was the only other finisher in second for Jack Teal and will no doubt benefit from this after returning from a break and may also appreciate some cut in the ground. It was somewhat of a surprise for Dawson "I thought he'd had enough!" admitted Chris who thought his best days were behind him "I'd come out of retirement to ride him though" he joked as Chris now concentrates his efforts on their stud at Nunstainton Stud near Sedgefield.
Chris wasn't the only Dawson firing the winners in as brother John racked up a double which started in the opening Hunt Members race aboard Mickey Miller, the pair looked to have the race put to bed however had to work hard and fend off the fast finishing Kilclispeen who was showing his first signs of form this season, whilst Bellringer who was sporting first time blinkers set a good pace and ran respectably back in third under Phil Greaves. It was a welcome return to form for the winner who spent all last season out of form with niggly problems but looks to have been nursed back to form by his trainer John Dawson.
Dawson went on to ride a double as he took the closing Confined race aboard the progressive Eden Collenges trained by Cherry Coward. Owned by the Imperial Racing Partnership whose colours were most famously carried to success by Imperial Commander in the Gold Cup, the 5yo son of Lucarno made good progress to lead two out and stay on well to beat the pacemaker Absainte, whose string of victories came to an end under Phil Armson, whilst third went to No Secondchance and Kate Lowcock. The winner has put up a couple of below par efforts on slower ground but appears to be thriving at the moment on these quicker conditions.
The Ladies Open was an exciting finish between the mare Wizadora and Ballinahow Bill, Kate Lowcock made all the running aboard Wizadora who with Kates novice riders claim and her mares allowance was carrying just over 10 stone, the pair galloped on relentlessly and fend off the favourite under Lottie Crane. Wizadora has shown a liking for this track and has struck up a great relationship with her rider "she's such a tough little mare" said Kate who has strengthened her position at the head of the ladies and novice ladies championship. Impact Zone completed for third under Cara Richardson who continues to gain good experience.
The PPORA race was for horses aged 9 and upwards, it would go the way of Abbeyview who was having his third victory of the season and put up an effortless display in what was by far the fastest time of the day, piloted by Laura Fenwick the pair sprinted away from The Mobile Man and Kate Lowcock, whilst the only other finisher was Back Off Mate and Archie Frank who is in his first season of riding.