Nick Orpwood extended his lead in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship with a double on Crazy Diamond and Mister D in the Jedforest fixture at Friars Haugh, Kelso on Sunday.
Crazy Diamond set the ball rolling when supplementing last month's Alnwick debut win in the Subaru Restricted Race. Always travelling well behind the leaders, he was sent on two out before staying on strongly to beat Darlington County by a length, with Oscar Stanley a further half length away in third. Wooler-based trainer, Jessica McKie has now saddled three winners from three runners this season and said of the 11 year old: "The last time he won at Kelso was on the other side of the river at the Floors Castle Horse Trials. He is new to this game and still very green but improving all the time. He will now have a short break before returning for the College Valley meeting in March."
Mister D returned from an eight month break to get off the mark in the concluding 12 runner Billy Stenhouse Memorial Open Maiden Race. In an incident-packed contest with only two finishers, he stayed out of trouble and forged clear from two out to score by a dozen lengths from Denbigh raider, Indigo Island. Clare Moore's charge was a first runner for Bonchester Bridge handler, Lesley Bewley, who said of the 9 year old: "He had colic last December and we nearly lost him but thankfully he made a full recovery. He was working well at home and I thought he would go close as long as he settled."
Tom David made the five and a half hour drive from Cirencester worthwhile by steering Woodview Prince to an impressive victory in the Bonhams Men's Open Race. The partnership survived a bad mistake at the final open ditch, a mile from home, to take it up after three out and coast home with six lengths to spare over Cave Hunter. Anglesey-based owner, Richard Hewitt said: "He is a class act and in a different league to my other horses. The plan is to run him in a Leicester Novices Hunters' Chase on February 12 before heading to Cheltenham."
Jacqueline Coward's day had started badly when she was caught speeding on the A19 but it ended on a brighter note when Botany Cove, her only ride, came up trumps on his reappearance in the Musselburgh Racecourse and Royal Dick Vet Intermediate Race. Always in the leading trio, her mount finally got on terms with Mister Splodge at the last before finding an extra gear on the run-in to win by a length. Jointly owned by Cherry Coward and Richard Morris, the 11 year old is ridden out at home by Cherry but she missed the victory as she is currently on holiday in Tenerife.
Catherine Walton took her career tally to 80, comprising 52 between the flags and 28 under Rules, on Ockey De Neulliac in the Gain Horse Feeds Ladies Open Race. The 13 year old looked in trouble when headed after three out by Ninetieth Minute and Radio Nowhere but dug deep to regain the initiative before the last and beat former Coral Cup hero, Ninetieth Minute by one and a half lengths, with the improving Tasheba a further two lengths away in third. Owner/trainer, Neil Mechie said of the winner: "That's the first time he has bled in a race since I got him and he will now have a break after three hard races in six weeks. The way he battled back in the circumstances just shows how tough he is."
The opening Storagexpress and Border Berries Jedforest Hunt Members Race resulted in a second course win for Kalastar in the hands of Tom Hamilton. Last year's winner, Silk And Roses led from the off but was unable to shake off her two rivals and eventually weakened into third after four out. Kalastar was joined at the next by Tambour Major before asserting his superiority in the closing stages to score by four lengths. Kenny Telfer's charge, clearly reaping the benefit of a wind operation in August, may well be aimed at the Buccleuch Cup Maiden Hunters' Chase at Kelso on April 13. After opening his 2015 account, Hamilton said of the Sylvia Scott-trained 6 year old: "He's improved a lot from last season, has plenty of scope and jumped superbly."
On a profitable afternoon for Yorkshire raiders, Rush House was the third winner from the White Rose county in the Charlotte Agnew Eventing & Jockey Club Open Mares Maiden Race. Iona Rose had led from the fifth until headed three out by Rush House. The latter was quickly sent a few lengths clear by Jack Teal and never looked like being overhauled by Comedinewithme, even though the deficit had been reduced to a length at the line. After scoring on his first ride at the Friars Haugh course, Teal said: "We were flat out all the way and all she does is jump and stay. She was going so well that I thought I would just kick on three out and the others couldn't catch us."
This was a richly deserved success for owner/trainer, Gillian Lee from Knayton near Thirsk, who is also the Hurworth Point-to-Point Secretary. "She has come on a lot since finishing 4th at Alnwick in December," said Lee of her charge who was bought for only £600 as an unraced 5 year old at Ascot Sales in 2013. The Kris Kin mare is named after the farm not far from where Gillian's partner, John Smith was brought up.