Cleveland at Stainton
Saturday 1st April 2000
by Richard Watts

Brother and sister Ruth and Richard Clark partnered the Open winners at the Cleveland Point to Point held at Stainton Vale last Saturday.

In a race of veterans the Mens Open in which the youngest horse was eleven Richard Clark partnered the Ian Brown trained Private Jet (P H Sanders/Sinnington). The eleven-year-old had been successful in a Hunter Chase but had never before won between the flags. With the favourite Just Charlie (S Mason/Middleton) needing to be driven along from the off, Private Jet was held up in the early stages. He moved easily into second with six to jump and three from home had cruised into the lead. Private Jet soon quickened clear and at the line was a comfortable four lengths clear. Just Charlie was never going well but under strong driving from David Easterby moved into second without looking like pegging back the winner. John Wade’s Cross Cannon (South Durham) made much of the running under Trevor Glass and kept on at one pace to take third.

Ruth Clark partnered John Mackley’s Japodene (South Durham) to win the Ladies Open. Japodene raced in midfield in the first circuit. She moved into second with a mile to run and after jumping the fourth last hit the front. From that point the result was never in doubt as the favourite galloped on gamely to the line, winning back seven lengths. Howard Thompson’s The Minister (Cleveland) finished second under trainer Tina Jackson. He looked a big threat to the winner at the third last but couldn't quicken in the closing stages. The Tim Walford trained Half Each (C Watson/Middleton) finished strongly from the rear to take third under Lucy Watson.

Helen Arnold recorded the first win of her career when Stride To Glory (Cleveland) sprung a surprise in the Confined. The blinkered nine year old made every yard of the running under his owner. David Atkinson’s Keep A Secret (Bedale) looked to be a big danger three from home but on the run to the second last Stride To Glory quickened the pace. He jumped the last five lengths clear and galloped on for a fine win. Keep A Secret rallied approaching the last and finished fast but could not get to the winner. Peter Atkinson riding. Two lengths back in third was the odds on favourite Harbour Blaze (S Clark/York & Ainsty). Ridden by Ruth Clark he appeared not to act on the ground and never looked like landing the odds.

A double for Northern area based jockey Clive Story (both on horses he trains) was initiated by Queen Biddy (D Simpson/College Valley) in the Restricted. The Christine Barr trained Lord Nick (Cleveland) made much of the running in this race under Nigel Tutty. Queen Biddy raced in midfield early but crept closer on the final circuit until she took it up with four to jump. Running on strongly the mare ran on well to the line and easily repelled Lord Nick’s late rally; winning by a length. Lord Nick finished second ten lengths clear of the Tim Walford trained Primitive Charles (J Thompson/Bedale). He raced prominently under Guy Brewer but was outpaced from the second last.

Happy Blake’s (C Todd/Haydon) win in the Second Maiden completed Storey’s double. The favourite had to work hard for this success. He led from the third last but was hard pressed over the closing fences by Stephen Clark’s Flowing Fortune (York & Ainsty). Ridden by Ruth he pressed the winner hard on the run in but had to settle for a two length second. In The Van (R Morley/Derwent) disputed the lead at the third last but weakened back into third under Michael Morley.

The most exciting finish of the day came in the First Division of the Maiden when the First Past the Post Racing Club’s Kerrisdale (Staintondale) fought out a great battle with the Wood owned Sassy Street (Bilsdale). Kerrisdale and Sassy Street both travelled well throughout for Dave Thomas and Kevin Needham respectively. At the second last they were together. After the fence Kerrisdale quickened to lead, but a mistake at the final fence allowed Sassy Street back into it. Despite her mistake the Annabelle Armitage trained Kerrisdale was quickly away from the fence but Sassy Street was running on strongly and in a great finish just got up to win by the shortest of short heads (the judge needed ten minutes to make the decision). Six lengths back in third was the favourite Tenor Bet (J Stewart/Hurworth). The Charmaine Raw trained horse raced prominently until outpaced from the second last under Noel Wilson.

The Members went to the Jill Jones trained Buster Buttons, ridden by Nigel Tutty. The gelding headed the front running Imperial Line (P Cowey) at the third last and from that point always looked to have the race won. At the line the eight year old was eight lengths clear. Imperial Line battled back well to take second under trainer Tina Jackson with the Charmaine Raw trained Catton Lady (M Dodgson) a neck back in third under Guy Brewer.