Following a week of wintry weather, the Berwickshire Hunt managed to get one of the mildest days of the year for their annual Point-to-Point meeting at Friars Haugh, Kelso on Saturday and spectators enjoyed some quality action with 40 runners contesting a well sponsored seven race card.
There was nothing much to choose between Eco Warrior (Nick Orpwood) and the favourite, Always Tipsy (Kit Alexander) approaching the final fence in the Crabtree & Crabtree Berwickshire Conditions Race but the complexion of the contest changed dramatically when Kit's mount ran out through the wing. Eco Warrior was left in splendid isolation and had twenty five lengths to spare over Whiteabbey (Amie Waugh) at the line.
The 8 year old winner, owned by Carolyn Innes, is trained at Bowmont Hill, Mindrum by Orpwood, who said, "He deserved a change of luck after unseating at the first here on his reappearance last month when he got bumped by another horse," while Innes added, "He's been well hunted and is really enjoying his racing again. He likes plenty of time between his races and will return here for the Duke of Buccleuch's fixture on Sunday 18th March." He is a versatile sort and actually got off the mark in a previous yard on the Flat at Lingfield Park in January 2014 when ridden by Frankie Dettori.
Left Back opened his account in the Brown Shipley Open Maiden Race under an enterprising ride from Crawford Robertson, who has worked for the gelding's Kinneston-based owner/trainer' Nick Alexander since he left school. The 6 year old made every yard of the running and never looked like being pegged back by Ask Jd (Joe Wright) in the closing stages. Alexander said, "Crawford followed my instructions to the letter and Left Back is much happier jumping fences than he was over hurdles."
Shantou Magic (Charlotte Dun) booked his place in next month's Cheltenham Foxhunters' Chase with his second course win of the season in the Meadowhead Ladies Open Race. Always going well, the 11 year old cruised into the lead before the home turn and was five lengths ahead of Oscar Stanley (Joanna Walton) at the finish.
Another winner from last month's Jedforest meeting, Pieceoftheaction struck gold again in the Watson Seeds Intermediate Race. Confidently ridden by Tom Hamilton, the 5 year old, owned by George White and trained at Wolviston by Susan Grant, took it up bypassing three out and gradually extended his advantage to beat Towerburn (Nick Orpwood) by twenty lengths in the slowest time of the day.
There were only 3 runners in the Psigma Men's Open Race but it was still an exciting affair and only a length separated the trio at the line. After heading the odds-on favourite, Cave Hunter at the fourth fence, the veteran Forge Valley made the rest of the running untiil headed approaching two out by Leavethelighton. The latter, ridden by John Dawson quickly went three lengths clear and had enough in reserve to hold a late rally from Cave Hunter by half a length.
Pyjama Game has been one of the most consistent horses in the Northern Area in the last couple of years since joining Coldstream-based Will Ramsay and the 12 year old deservedly added to his winning tally in the Bill Hardie NPPA Conditions Race. Produced with a perfectly timed challenge, he headed Whats Left (Alex Chadwick) at the last and kept on well to score by half a length. Ramsay's mount, who has only finished out of the frame on three occasions in his last thirteen starts, was running in the colours of his late father, Major General Charles Ramsay. Will, who runs his own business, Affordable Art Fairs and had only just returned from St Moritz, epitomises the true amateur spirit of point-to-point racing.
John Dawson completed a double on Glittering Love in the concluding Musselburgh Racecourse & Dick Vet Equine Hospital Restricted Race. This rapidly improving 6 year old Winged Love gelding, a Maiden winner at the recent Jedforest meeting, got the better of Sorcier (Lucy Brown) approaching two out and stayed on strongly to score by three lengths. The youngster was given to Greystoke-based owner/trainer, Joey Richards last year by Paul and Claire Rooney after failing to shine under Rules. Dawson rounded off a great weekend with a treble at the Sinnington fixture the following day.