Although many parts of Northumberland were covered by snow on Easter Monday, the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick was a green oasis allowing the College Valley & North Northumberland fixture to go ahead as scheduled with 39 runners on a six race card.
The races were all run at a sensible pace on heavy going and the jockeys reported that their horses were all getting through the ground without any problems. With the last fence omitted in the first five races, there was an extended run-in.
Charlotte Dun extended her lead over Catherine Walton in the YoungsRPS Northern Area Ladies Championship to 7pts after steering Roderick Random to victory in the Lloyds Bank Restricted Race. Sent on at the head of the home straight, her mount forged clear on the extended run-in to beat Sorcier by twelve lengths.
The gelding's North Tyne trainer, Liz Nixon said, "He has benefited from a wind operation last summer. I thought he might be short of work but Charlotte said he still had plenty left and he loves this heavy ground."
Laura Fenwick recorded a third career win on Abbeyview in the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Conditions Race for Novice Riders. The 11 year old gelding looked as if he was going to score with a bit in hand from Lough Derg Island but began to tire on the run-in and only held on by a rapidly diminishing head. She said, "We bought him in August out of Sheila Crow's yard and were told not to run him on heavy going, so I'm pleased that I let him take his chance."
Alex Chadwick, one of the most under-rated young jockeys on the Northern circuit, was seen at his best on Whisperdale in the UBS Wealth Management Mixed Open Race. The gelding was given a front-running masterclass by Chadwick and, after jumping well all the way, stayed on strongly to beat former Irish chaser, Pass The Hat by six lengths.
Winning owner, Jack Clark, who celebrated his 70th birthday on Sunday, explained, "I broke several ribs and punctured a lung in a hunting fall from him in January. As I was no longer able to train him myself, I sent him to Lesley Coltherd's Selkirk yard. He needs to be positively ridden and Alex gave him a great ride on ground much softer than he prefers."
Yarm-based owner/trainer, Lucy Horner knows the time of day when it comes to producing a horse fit enough to win first time out and she worked the oracle again with Ourgetaway, who defied a 12-month absence from the track in the Saffrey Champness Open Maiden Race under a confident ride from Aaron Anderson, who commented, "She was cruising on the bridle all the way and although there were three of us in a line at the last, the response was immediate when I pressed the button and she quickened clear."
Horner said of the 6 year old mare, "She has a touch of class and is much better than recent form figures might suggest. I acquired her last year from Ireland where she was a bit wayward and don't like running horses just to make up the numbers."
The inaugural running of the two mile JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat Race resulted in an impressive victory for Jedburgh raider, Lochinver in the hands of Emma Todd. Sent straight into the lead, the 4 year old maintained a relentless gallop and still had seven lengths to spare over the well supported Barfly at the finish. Emma reported, "He settled well in front and, after getting a breather into him, found plenty when it mattered. He could have gone round again."
Winning owner/trainer, Gary Rutherford said, "I bought him privately for only £500 in October. He had been going well at home and it was a great help being able to use Harriet Graham's all weather gallops but I still didn't expect that." Former National Hunt jockey, Rutherford has now sent out two winners from his last three runners between the flags. Lochinver's value will have increased significantly after his Alnwick victory and if he's still in Rutherford's yard next month he could be an interesting contender in the Aintree Point-To-Point Bumper Final. He has plenty of pace in his pedigree as his sire, American Post won the prestigious Racing Post Trophy as a 2 year old.
Diamond Brig made it three wins from four career starts in the Womble Bond Dickinson Intermediate Race to give John Dawson a 16th winner of the season. The 6 year old made all running and cruised home twelve lengths ahead of his solitary rival Lord Usher, ridden by Kate Leckenby. The gelding's Hawick-based owner/trainer, Wendy Hamilton said, "He likes plenty of cut and is an out and out stayer. He might run next in the Buccleuch Cup Maiden Hunters' Chase at Kelso on April 16."
Although Worcester Pearmain could only only finish third behind Roderick Random in the Restricted Race, it was enough for the Tony Dobbin-trained mare to clinch the £500 prize as winner of the Imperial Racing-sponsored Alnwick Races Champion Horse Award for the 2017/18 season.
All of the College Valley & North Northumberland Point-to-Point Committee, along with the Ratcheugh Farm Clerk of the Course, Tom Oates and his team deserve plenty of praise for ensuring this meeting went ahead in spite of the adverse weather conditions.