One of the biggest crowds seen at Corbridge for many years enjoyed a bumper eight race card at the Tynedale fixture on Sunday with 83 runners facing the starter, a figure not surpassed at any Northern Area meeting for three years.
Tom Hamilton, 20, extended his lead in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship with a double on Over To Sam and Flash Garden. Over To Sam made a winning debut in the Mick Watson Memorial 4, 5 & 6 year olds Open Maiden Race, heading the favourite, Moscanisi at the last before pulling three lengths clear up the run-in. His sire, Black Sam Bellamy was a dual Group 1 winner on the Flat, while his dam, Lady Brig won 8 of her 28 Pointing starts as well as being placed 13 times.
Flash Garden was an easy winner of the Bond Dickinson NPPA Club Members Race on his seasonal debut. The 8 year old, owned and trained by James Cookson, went on two out and had the prize sewn up in a matter of strides, eventually beating Viacometti by eight lengths.
Lord Of The Course reigned supreme under Andrew Glass in the Subaru Restricted Race. After disputing the lead with Mr Shahady three out, the 10 year old set sail for home to go ten lengths clear at the next. However, he was only four lengths up and tiring at the last and did well to hold off a renewed challenge from Afterclass by half a length. The winner, owned by farmer, Richard Wilson and trained by his wife, Wendy at Manfield near Scotch Corner, was bought at Doncaster Sales in 2014 but didn't run last year after picking up an injury. Wendy said: "He's been a handful since we got him and was reluctant to start today but is fine once he gets away. He's done very little schooling recently and is definitely not the type for hunting but has plenty of ability when he's in the mood."
One Conemara provided Jacqueline Coward with her first training success in the 3m 5f Brewin Dolphin Men's Open Race. Ridden for the first time by Nick Orpwood, the 8 year old headed Shannon Silver two out before steadily drawing clear to score by ten lengths. This 123-rated chaser and hurdler was bought out of Nicky Henderson's yard at the Doncaster Sales in May 2014 by Brandsby-based farmer and property developer, John Nellis, who said: " He loves a test of stamina and found Duncombe Park too sharp last time out."
There was a first career double for Saltburn farrier, Paul Collins, 39, on his first visit to Corbridge. Dica set the ball rolling by justifying favouritism on his reappearance in the Tom Gaisford Fencing Tynedale Hunts Club Members Riders Conditions Race. Always in the first trio, he joined Probably George at the last before leading close home to claim a head verdict. Collins said: "I've been with the Reveleys for more than 15 years after doing my apprenticeship in Scotland. I had intended running Dica at the Sinnington a fortnight ago but missed the deadline for entries."
Collins completed his red letter day on Solid Strike in the second division of the DJ & SJ Recycling 7 year olds and over Open Maiden Race. Produced with a well-timed challenge to lead after two out, the 8 year old powered clear up the finishing straight to beat Here's To Harry by ten lengths. Both of Paul's winners were returning from a 10-month break, with recent recruit Solid Strike clearly having scope to score again in better company.
Beggar's Velvet defied top weight of 11st 7lb to land the 3m 5f Metnor Property Group Ladies Open Race in the hands of Jacqueline Coward. Always going well, the 10 year old finally overhauled Barachois Silver at the last before staying on strongly to win by two lengths with the favourite, Durban Gold a further half length away in third. His Longhorsley-based trainer and part owner, Drew Holmes said: "We've never missed a day's work this winter despite all the bad weather we've had and I knew he was very fit ahead of his seasonal debut."
That victory took Coward's career tally between the flags to 140 and two hours later she was celebrating a training and riding double after steering The Highlander to a comfortable seven lengths win over New Vic in the first division of the DJ & SJ Recycling 7 year olds and over Open Maiden Race. Coward said: "He was bought privately in France in 2014, having finished 4th on his debut there the previous year, twenty lengths behind the runner-up Vautour. He was off colour last season like most of our horses but had run very well at Alnwick and Duncombe Park recently."
A total of 18 runners contested the 3 Mowden Hall School-sponsored pony races which preceded the main action. Charlie Todd, 15, won both of the 138cm and under contests on Stretcholt Hermes and Little Anne respectively, while Finnley Green, 15, steered Finnley's Diamond to a neck victory over Rubyroo (Roy Day) in the 148cm and under contest.