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Braes of Derwent
Sunday 19th April 2015
by Peter Burgon

Bonchester Bridge jockey, Joanna Walton, 20, recorded the first double of her career on Drill Sergeant and Oscar Stanley in the Braes of Derwent point-to-point meeting at Corbridge on Sunday.

Drill Sergeant was always travelling well behind the leaders in the Dr Syntax Inn Ladies Open Race and finally overhauled Whisperdale between the last two fences before staying on strongly up the run-in to hold off a late thrust from the odds-on favourite, Rolecarr by two lengths.

He was previously successful three times on the Flat for Mark Johnston, including the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot in June 2009, as well as three times over hurdles for Donald McCain but had drawn a blank since scoring at Ffos Las in August 2011. His form had deteriorated latterly over hurdles and he was offered to Ingleton near Staindrop owner/trainer, Caroline Dennis in 2013 by McCain. This was his 66th career start, including 58 under Rules, since making his debut a few miles down the road from Corbridge in a six furlong Newcastle Maiden on 3 October 2007 and he went on to win over £190k on the Flat.

Walton said, "He still retains plenty of enthusiasm, didn't mind the quicker ground and fairly powered up the hill from three out."

Walton had Oscar Stanley lying handy from the outset in the Swiftstamp Restricted Race and produced him with a well-timed challenge to hit the front at the last. Her mount met it perfectly, landed running and kept on well to beat the fast-finishing Farm Pixie by a length. "He's a much better horse on a right handed track but would have preferred a bit more cut in the ground" she said. The 8 year old winner, owned by Diana Blythe and trained by Walton's mother, Diana, has been transformed since joining the latter's yard eighteen months ago.

The talented Cave Hunter got his injury-hit season back on course in the Professional Stove Installations Men's Open Race to give Tom Hamilton his 12th winner of the campaign. Content to track the trailblazing leaders, Ballyvesey and Clonea Power from the fourth, Hamilton's mount cruised to the front after two out and kept Ballyvesey at bay up the run-in to score by half a length in the fastest time of the day. The 8 year old's owner, Niel Manning said, "After the problems he's had this year, I'm just pleased to get him back on the track in such good form and all being well, he'll run next at Mosshouses or Hexham on May 2." Hamilton added, "All the credit must go to my mother, Wendy, who rides him out at home. They went very quick early on and after the leaders started coming back to us approaching four out, he picked up straight away when asked for an effort after the next."

Awman provided North Tyne handler, Liz Nixon with her first winner in the Tow Law Open Maiden Race. Well ridden by Harry Reed, the 8 year old made virtually every yard of the running and steadily forged clear from two out to beat Blue Lodge by six lengths. Joint owner, Brian Stanners said, "Liz decided to stay at home as she felt she would jinx his chances. She deserves all the credit as she rides him out every night in all weathers when she gets home from working behind the counter in Cranstons shop in Hexham."

Nobody could begrudge Whatsthestoryman his moment of glory in the William McIvor & Son Open Maiden Race which gave Emma Dunkley, 19, a richly deserved first winner. At the head of affairs from six out, the Sylvia Scott-trained gelding stormed clear up the finishing straight to beat Tulliroad by twenty lengths. Dunkley, who has been working full-time for National Hunt trainer, Rose Dobbin since January, said, "That's a big relief after finishing second on him four times this year. He deserved that and seems to act on any ground."

Boy In Bangkok supplemented last month's Tynedale Restricted success in the 2 runner Northumberland Tea Company Intermediate Race. Viacometti set a modest pace from the fifth and was still about three lengths up when unseating birthday girl, Kelly Bryson five out. Partnered by London stockbroker, Ed Wrigley, Boy In Bangkok was left in splendid isolation and safely negotiated the remaining fences to land the spoils. The victory was a real family affair as the 9 year old is trained at Ganton by Wrigley's mother, Venetia and runs in the colours of her husband, Nicholas. Although he is bred to be a sprinter, the winner clearly has no stamina issues and seems to have blossomed after enjoying plenty of days hunting with the Middleton.

Proceedings had opened on a low-key note when Kate Leckenby's mount, Hardy Oscar secured a third course win as a result of being handed a walk-over in the Braes of Derwent Members Race.

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