Tom Hamilton extended his lead over Nick Orpwood in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship to ten points with a double on the Andrew Hamilton-trained geldings, Bayfirth and Toreador in the well supported Braes of Derwent point-to-point meeting at Downhills, Corbridge on Easter Monday.
There was plenty of praise for Clerk of the Course, Bob Middleton and his team, who had watered the course over the weekend to ensure the going was no worse than Good to Firm with a great covering of grass. Their efforts were rewarded with a total of 50 runners contesting the seven races, a figure surpassed by only 2 of the other 21 fixtures held across the country over the Easter period.
Bayfirth (right) finally overhauled long time leader, Beau D'Argent two out in the Swiftstamp Restricted Race before forging clear up the home straight to score by ten lengths. Hamilton said of the winner: ''He did that nicely. I got him back on the bit after a mistake three out and he was full of running when we hit the front at the next.''
Under another well-judged ride, Toreador (left) gradually reeled in Coole Murphy on the second circuit of the Tow Law Open Maiden Race before taking it up approaching the last and sprinting eight lengths clear on the run-in. This completed a first training double for Carluke-based Andrew Hamilton, who said of the 7 year old: ''I bought him privately out of the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard in 2012. He developed a splint and was off the course for eleven months after falling at Tranwell on his second start for me last April. He is still improving and could go for a Cartmel Maiden Hunters' Chase on May 26.''
Selkirk trainer, Stuart Coltherd has enjoyed his best season to date under Rules with sixteen winners, and his only pointer, Darsi Dancer (right) got him off the mark between the flags in the USL Group Open Maiden Race for four, five, six and seven year olds. Patiently ridden by Toby Speke, he cruised past Whisperdale approaching the last before forging six lengths clear on the flat. Speke, a last minute substitute for Jamie Hamilton who had injured his shoulder earlier in the afternoon, had also been on the mark with Two Stroke in the last race at Mordon the previous day. The 6 year old, placed twice in Maiden company in Ireland in November, was bought privately in January by Coltherd, who said: ''He might not be the quickest but does nothing but stay and could make a quick reappearance in the Fife Restricted Race at Balcormo Mains on Saturday.''
Ockey de Neulliac (left) landed his fifth win of the season in near course record time in the Dr Syntax Inn Ladies Open Race. The 12 year old gave Catherine Walton an armchair ride as he galloped the opposition into submission. It was one way traffic for much of the final circuit before he sauntered home a distance in front of Marfleet.
Middleham-based handler, Neil Mechie said of his stable star: ''He loves plenty of work and has been galloped every day since running at Hornby Castle last weekend.
He deserves to take his chance in the Ladies Hunters'Chase at Cheltenham on April 30.''
Diana Walton's horses have hit a rich vein of form and Amour Daria (right) made it three winners for her Bonchester Bridge yard in the last fifteen days in the Northumberland Tea Company Intermediate Race. Relishing the quicker ground, the 11 year old was sent on by Joanna Walton with a circuit to go and sealed a three lengths victory over the favourite, The Brig At Ayr with a great jump at the last.
Left in front when the favourite, Splendid Blue fell six out in the Jerry Ryan Consultancy Men's Open Race, Ballyvesey (left) held off a late challenge from Clonea Power to score by half a length, with Paddy Curry a further ten lengths away in third. Winning rider/trainer, Drew Holmes said of his charge: ''He just jumps and gallops all day but wouldn't want the ground any quicker than this. I might look for a suitable hunters' chase for him next month.''
After getting off the mark at last month's Tynedale meeting, Hardy Oscar (right) showed his liking for Corbridge with a second course win in the Douglas Chapman Memorial Braes of Derwent Members Race. Kate Leckenby's mount led from the off and, after matching strides with his solitary rival, Rock On Rodger from four out, stayed on best of all to go two lengths clear again at the last. Kate also trains the winner for the Dixon Leckenby Partnership, which comprises her parents, David and Judith (the Braes Pt-to-Pt Secretary) along with John and Karen Dixon, who are based in the Philippines, but were on hand this time after missing last month's victory.