This weekend saw the start of the Yorkshire point to point season get under way in fantastic style. The unusually dry winter produced excellent jumping ground and it was local trainer Cherry Coward that flew the flag for the home team as southern raiders came in droves and took five of the eight races on the day.
The most impressive winner of the day came in the Restricted race which saw the Sheila Crow trained Rob The Getaway bolt up by an easy twenty lengths. Partnered by Henry Crow the pair looked to have the race well wrapped up from three out and had to be simply nudged clear after the last and justify his very short price. The pair gave a similar performance last season when winning his maiden at Tabley and then subsequently went on to win the Aintree point to point bumper, the 6 year old son of Getaway certainly looks like a force to reckon with in the coming season. The Unmentionable for the Dale Peters team faired best of the rest whilst Montowoc County was third.
Cherry Coward struck up a treble on the day and kept Yorkshire on the score card, she took the Men's Open race with course specialist One Conemara, however he was a doubtful runner earlier in the day due to the dry ground. The pair made good progress on the run towards four out and stayed on strongly all the way up the run in to fend off the Dale Peter's Wither Or Not; who was returning from a lengthy absence, whilst Black River ran another creditable race under Will Easterby in third. One Conemara is a thorough stayer and the fast conditions were not ideal for this Grimthorpe Gold Cup winner, "I didn't want to run Conemara as I didn't think he would be as good on the faster ground, obviously I was proven wrong...John Dawson had the faith!!" enthused Cherry,who was training the winner for race sponsor John Nellis and no doubt another crack at the Grimthorpe Gold Cup will be on the agenda again back at this track at the end of March.
The Coward's began their sequence of victories in the second division of the opening conditions race with Path To Freedom, also partnered by John Dawson. The pair came through to the lead two out and stayed on strongly after the last to win convincingly under a 7lb penalty and continued his progressive profile "Path To Freedom I was most nervous about, but the dry ground has really helped him" said Jacqueline Coward, the pair went on to beat You Too Pet by a comfortable eight lengths, the runner up was continuing a good strike on the meeting by Dale Peters, whilst third went the way of Bletchley Castle and Tommie O'Brien who set a strong pace for much of the way and will surely be getting their heads in front on a sharper track.
The Dawson/Coward jockey and trainer combination completed their hat trick in the final race, the 2m 4f Open Maiden race with Eden Collonges. The race was run at a strong pace and the pair sat well off the early speed and made good headway three out and drew well clear after the last with runner up Dressedforsuccess and Coniston Spa, a further twenty five lengths back in third, who was making an eye catching debut. Jacqueline Coward paid tribute to Jack Andrews who had put a lot of work in to this French bred son of Lucarno, however he broke his leg two weeks ago in a fall at Wetherby "he's a very nice little horse, I'm gutted for Jack, Jack has done all the hard work with him, but he'll be back!!...we have always really liked him and are delighted for Ian his owner who bought him as a youngster in France" said Coward.
A possible Cheltenham bound contender was seen in the Ladies Open, as former Willie Mullins inmate Haymount under Gina Andrews drew clear of Golden Tobouggan to win well, whilst Lottie Crane showed Ballinahow Bill still looks a potent force in Yorkshire, as he chased this classy pair home. Privately sourced from Ireland the 10 year old son of Presenting was beaten only three lengths behind Tiger Roll in the 2017 National Hunt Chase "he was privately sourced by Loiuse Cooper Joyce...she buys a lot for us...he's lovely to do, very easy and straightforward, you just have to leave him alone in his stable because he will eat you" joked Gina, who hopes to get her mount out again in the next few weeks "we hope to aim him for Cheltenham but he needs to win another point".
Division one of the Club Members race went to the Dale Peter's team, Dale always brings a strong hand to this meeting and this year it was no different. Peter's saddled and rode Benefit Of Luck to an impressive success after a lengthy absence "we're not sure where we'll go from here but we think he could be quite smart!" enthused Dale who's son of Beneficial pulled nicely clear of Mydor with the locally trained Ravished back in third and should be getting on the score sheet sooner or later.
The Open Maiden was split on the day and in division one the Tom Ellis trained Latenightpass set down and battled it out with Tonganui piloted by Christy Furness, however it looked as if the Gina Andrews trained Latenightpass always had the upper hand and pulled clear close to the line and win a shade cosy, Tonganui was second and a long gap back to Bardista.
The second division was run at a very sedate pace and there was any number of runners in with a chance two from home, but it would be Tour De Pub who would come out on top, he was having only his second start after a modest performance on his only start previously, he's improved no end here and looks as if he can improve further, Love Around chased him home, whilst Major Minus ran another good effort in third for Will Easterby.