Phil Clark and his team's reputation for working hard to produce excellent racing ground was rewarded with both lots of entries and plenty of runners on a glorious day weather wise, with lots of memorable stories among the winners.
The most emotional was Kilmacallogue Bay's win in the David Westwood Memorial Restricted race under Chris Dawson. Owned by the late Simon Robinson, who partnered Kilmacallogue Bay to win his maiden at this course last year, his final win as a jockey, Chris galvanised the gelding to power up the hill and the pair held on from Ruby Bay and Emma Todd in second with Seeyouincourt, ridden by Chris' brother John in third. Crossing the line Chris was only looking one way and that was up into the sky as he saluted the clouds and dedicated this win to his owner, who's funeral takes place on Wednesday 29th April. "You couldn't have written the script!" Enthused the winning rider. "It was a tough day but that win meant so much. He takes his racing really well and I still think there's some improvement in him. I knew they would go a good gallop so I rode him a bit more prominently than normal and he just stayed on up the rising ground."
Chris had earlier partnered his 100th point-to-point winner when taking the Gavin Rhodes Landscapes 4, 5, 6 & 7 year old Maiden on his own Roll The Dough. Sent off as joint favourite, it was no surprise to see him win having been placed second on his last two runs. "It was great to ride my 100th winner on one of Dad's horses and it's been an aim all season, but taking recent events into account I'd be quite happy to stay on 99 if it had meant Simon could still be here to see his winner." Said Chris, he continued "We've always thought highly of Roll The Dough, he missed last year with a splint but has done everything right this year. I got there soon enough on him but managed to get the rail which helped him and I was impressed with his win, although he only does enough." Erica's Dream improved significantly on her Sheriff Hutton debut to finish two lengths back in second under John Dawson. The four year old daughter of Bollin Eric is going the right way and can pick up a maiden before the end of the season. Fairy Mix was third for Elliot Brookbanks.
Another win which will stay in the memories of all connections for years to come was Fergus Gregory's win on James Wyatt in the YAPPC Members Race. The now former Cherry Coward inmate provided Fergus with a win on his first ever point-to-point ride, although he has had a ride on the flat and competed in pony racing. Travelling up from Norfolk on Saturday night, Fergus sat on James Wyatt at about 5.30pm, rode him round the school, popped him over hurdle and purchased him on the spot as a school master. "I just can't believe it," said the young jockey who turned 16 in February. "I lost my stirrup at the first fence, but fortunately got it back quite quickly and made sure I put my foot right in instead of just the toe!" He added. "You just kept getting at him and didn't let up on him," said the now former trainer Cherry Coward. It was quite a performance from the young jockey who beat Roycano partnered by William Easterby by two lengths with Son of Swallow running his best race to date, in third under Jack Jordan.
Racing started with the York and Ainsty (North and South) Hunts Members, Subscribers and Farmers race sponsored by Mrs M Blacker. Six of the eight entries went to post but it became a duel between Opera Og and Dead Ringa with the former pulling clear by 12 lengths under Sean Murray. "I thought Dead Ringa would be the main challenger so I didn't want to let him get too far away," said the winning owner, trainer, rider. "He won easily and seems to keep getting better!" He added. A novice riders' race at the Bilsdale meeting also held at the Easingwold course looks to be the next target.
The closest finish of the day came in the Haighs Farm Shop Ladies Open Race where a mere three lengths covered the six finishers. Travelling as a tight pack, Renegotiate was the first to make the run for home and seemed to have the advantage until being swallowed up on the run in. It was the former Royal Ascot winner, Pevensey, that provided Cath Walton with her first winner for the Cowards this season with a perfectly timed challenge "The grounds come right for him and the fences aren't too big," said trainer Cherry Coward. "The weather's right for him too," she added. At the rear throughout, his finishing speed was unbelievable and the pair just got up on the line to win by a length from French Seventyfive and Emma Todd, with Tasheba and Joanna Walton half a length back in third.
The Touchdown Mens Open race provided the most impressive winner of the day in Six A Side. Having been held up throughout the race Six A Side was produced and ran on well to win in the fastest time of the day. "They went seriously quick but he made up plenty of ground, quickened up from two out and stayed on well. He's improving like mad and I think he's quite useful," said Will Milburn, the winning jockey. Sposalizio and Chris Dawson were four lengths back in second with Billing and Russell Lindsay a further head back in third.
Racing finished with The Kettlewells Fuels Ltd Open Maiden race and Quinto finally got his head in front to take this by three lengths for Richard Tierney. "That's him finished for this year but the owners are going to keep him for next year. He had been unlucky until yesterday but there is more to come from him," said the winning trainer Nicky Tinkler. Up To Scratch ran a great race to finish second for Elliot Brookbanks and Mr Conductor and Emma Todd were a further seven lengths back in third.