Heavy rain, which had started mid-morning before clearing after the third race, eased the going to Good to Soft in Sunday's Morpeth Hunt point-to-point fixture at Tranwell and the hardy enthusiasts who had braved the elements were rewarded with a dry, sunny afternoon for the second half of the card.
The former Donald McCain-trained gelding, Dannanceys Hill carried the well known colours of Tim Leslie to victory in the Go As You Please Morpeth Hunt Members Race to initiate a double for local jockey, Amie Waugh. In command throughout the final circuit, the 8 year old survived his only serious mistake at the last to beat Ocarina by four lengths. The winner was sent to Waugh last year and she said of him: "He burst a blood vessel on his second run for me at Sheriff Hutton three months ago and has been given plenty time to recover. He jumped and travelled well and should improve again for the run."
After a string of disappointing efforts earlier in the season, Whiteabbey bounced back to form to complete Waugh's double in the Formosus Ladies Open Race. Fitted with cheekpieces for the first time, the 10 year old made virtually every yard of the running and had enough in reserve to hold off a late challenge from Coquet Head by half a length. The gelding's Reston-based trainer, Rebecca Hewit said: "He has finally recovered from a virus which was affecting all of my horses earlier this year. I think he's got a bit lazy in his old age and the cheekpieces have definitely sharpened him up and kept his mind on the job."
After being placed on her last three starts, the consistent Nelly La Rue finally broke her duck in the V & S Developments Open Maiden Race to provide Tom Hamilton with the first leg of a double. Given a positive ride from the off and always in the leading pair, the mare gradually forged clear from four out to beat Kinder Scout by six lengths. This was a welcome first winner of the campaign for Newton-by-the-Sea owner/trainer, Mark Thompson, who bought the 8 year old for £2200 at Doncaster Sales last May. Hamilton said: "She jumped well all the way and this galloping track suited her much better than Friars Haugh."
Flash Garden supplemented last month's Crossford Maiden win in the Agrii Restricted Race to maintain his unbeaten record and complete Hamilton's double. The 7 year old warmed to his task as the contest unfolded and, after hitting the front two out, cruised home seven lengths in front of Kilmacallogue Bay. He was bought for £3000 at Doncaster Sales in May 2012 by his Meldon handler, James Cookson, who said: "He's a very straightforward type and such a good mover. He saw out the extra half mile without any problems and will be even better on good ground."
After a string of placed rides on Pampanito and Scuderia this season, there was a richly deserved first winner for 18 year old Andrew Bartlett on Braepark in the two and a half mile North East Grains Open Maiden Race. Produced with a perfectly timed challenge, the 6 year old overhauled the odds-on favourite, Roll The Dough inside the last fifty yards to score by a neck. Bartlett, who is based at Alan Swinbank's Melsonby yard, said: "He was very brave at his fences and kept finding extra when I got him stoked up down the home straight." The youngster finished 4th on his third run in Ireland last April before being bought by Ed Cameron for £6000 at Doncaster Sales the following month. His trainer, David Dickenson, who also sent out Devils Dyke to win this race in 2012, said: "He had muck in his lungs when pulled up at Thorpe on his first start for me two months ago and we knew he was much better than that."
Last week's Vale of Lune Maiden scorer, De Bee Keeper was the most impressive winner of the day in the Grainco Ltd PPORA Club Members Race for Veteran and Novice Riders. In a strongly run affair from the outset, Ross Chapman's mount was always going well and never looked like being caught after taking it up four out. Despite diving at the last , he recovered well and had twenty five lengths to spare over Great Gusto in the day's fastest time. Iveston trainer, Russell Ross, uncle of the winning rider, said; "He has earned a short break after two wins in eight days and will probably be entered for the Heart Of All England Maiden Hunters' Chase at Hexham on May 2 along with stable companion, Sea Scout."
Indian Print took his career tally between the flags to seventeen under a peach of a ride from Nick Orpwood in the Metnor Group Men's Open Race. Patiently ridden behind the two leaders, Back On The Road and Fozy Moss, Orpwood's mount quickened four lengths clear after two out and comfortably held off a renewed challenge on the run-in from Back On The Road by a length, with Fozy Moss a neck away in third place.
The 11 year old's victory ended a six week barren spell for Victor Thompson's Newton-by-the-Sea yard. His charge sustained a nasty injury on a hind leg when he tried to clear a wire fence six months ago but is now fully recovered and likely to reappear in the forthcoming fixtures at Corbridge and Balcormo Mains. This was Orpwood's 14th pointing winner of the season and his first in the Thompson colours. "It's still a long way from home four out and so I delayed any move until after the next. He cruised to the front two out and sealed victory with another great jump at the last," he said.