Guiseley-based amateur rider, Sam Drake, 24, moved into third place in the National Ladies Jockeys Championship with a double on Morello Mist and Optimistic Harry in Sunday's Border point-to-point meeting at a sun-drenched Hexham Racecourse.
Not surprisingly, following the recent spell of cold, wet weather, the going was soft, heavy in places and became increasingly holding. The seven race card attracted 56 runners but less than half of them finished as the testing conditions took their toll.
Barachois Silver (left), showed her liking for Hexham with a second win over course and distance in the opening Par Petroleum NPPA Club Member Race. Confidently ridden by Gillon Crow, she was sent to the front a mile from home and forged clear from three out to beat Master Sebastian by twenty lengths. Crow said: ''It's as soft out there as it gets and they are going in pretty deep but I suppose we are lucky to be racing.''
The odds-on favourite, Cool Star became very worked up in the preliminaries and his chances further diminished when racing was put back an hour due to the late arrival of the on-course ambulances. Andrew Richardson's mount was eventually pulled up after weakening quickly into third place approaching three out.
Morello Mist (right), was always going well in the Mill Volvo Restricted Race and, after heading Gin Cobbler two out, stayed on strongly in the closing stages to score by fifteen lengths. The 7 year old mare came to Drake from Sue Smith's Bingley yard in November after being sidelined for twenty months with knee problems. She handled the heavy ground well and was supplementing last month's Maiden victory at Dalston.
Drake's evergreen 13 year old gelding, Optimistic Harry (left), landed his 4th win of the campaign in the Tomlinson's Bunkhouse & Bistro (Rothbury) Ladies Open Race. Her mount finally saw off the persistent challenge of the favourite, Sea Scout approaching two out and had five lengths to spare at the finish. Drake said: ''He loves a test of stamina but ideally would prefer better ground,'' The double puts the in-form Drake on a career-best seasonal tally of 13, which includes 6 winners in May.
Less than 24 hours before sitting his final exams, 23 year old Edinburgh University theology student, Ed Wrigley ended his season on a high with a first career double on Gunner Jack (right) and Cherry's Bay. After being six lengths down three out in the Mr & Mrs Geoff Gale Men's Open Race, the former swept past the leaders, Borero and See You There at the next as if they were standing still. He settled the issue in a matter of strides before drawing right away to win by ten lengths. Wrigley said: ''I didn't think the two leaders were going to stop as quickly as they did.''
Cherry's Bay (left), dictated a sensible pace from the sixth in the Ward Hadaway Open Maiden Race and kept a bit up her sleeve on the run-in to hold off a renewed challenge from Missing You by two and a half lengths. The 6 year old mare is owned by Wrigley's father, Nicholas, senior steward of the Jockey Club, who said: '' She was bought privately out of David Easterby's yard at the end of last season and has taught Ed a lot as she is anything but a straightforward ride. This win will hopefully boost her price at Doncaster Sales later in the month.''
Sugar Sensation (right),was in the leading trio from the off in the Carrs Billington (Wooler) Open Maiden Race over two and a half miles. He went on after six out with the favourite, Red Myst before outstaying his rival from the second last to score by five lengths.This was a third winner of the season for 17 year old Blair Campbell and puts him a couple of points in front of Amy McGregor in the Northern Area Novice Riders Championship with only the Haydon meeting to come on Sunday June 3. The 6 year old winner had some placed form between the flags in Ireland before being bought for £7000 by Hawick handler, Alan Brown at Doncaster Sales last May. He gave connections a scare before the race when falling off the back of Brown's lorry in the horsebox park but thankfully emerged unscathed.
16 year old veteran, Themanfromcarlisle set a steady pace on his comeback outing under Susannah Barber on her first ride in the concluding Bill Aitchison Border Hunt Members Race. Despite conceding 14lb to his solitary opponent, Rock Port (left), Barber's mount held the initiative until Catherine Walton sent the odds-on favourite clear after three out. Rock Port dived at the last but recovered well and stayed on to win by eight lengths, in a time of 8min 56sec, the slowest of the day. Walton has already retained the Northern Area Ladies Championship and this was her 40th career winner, including seven under Rules.