Playboy Luke (left) ended a losing run stretching back to April 2010 in the Hadrian Electrical Engineering Ltd NPPA Club Members Race. Left in front when Via Archimede fell five out, Chris Dawson's mount never looked like surrendering the initiative and still had four lengths to spare over Amour Daria at the finish. The 10 year old is ridden out every day by his Moffat-based owner/trainer, Willie Kerr, who said: ''I bought him privately out of Brian Hamilton's Downpatrick yard last July. He never realised his early promise and probably needed a change of scenery.''
Joanna Walton, 19, clinched second place in the Northern Area Ladies Championship with her third winner of the campaign on Beverley Beck (right blue) in the Tom Davidson Plumbing & Heating Restricted Race. Given a peach of a ride, the mare was held up off the pace in the early stages before reeling in the leaders on the final circuit. The tiring Killeaney Princess was still a length up at the last but Walton's mount quickly asserted and forged clear on the flat to score by six lengths.
The victory was a welcome tonic for the mare's owner/breeder, Barry Wharf who had a spell in hospital earlier in the month. Walton said: ''I thought the ground might be too soft for her but she travelled well and seems best suited by small fields these days.''
The diminutive Narciso (left 12) is a credit to Dalby trainer, Cherry Coward. Her evergreen 13 year old stable stalwart lifted his career tally to 18 from 38 starts in the Northumberland Sporting Clays Ladies Open Race, and is now unbeaten in five visits to Hexham. Under a patient ride from daughter, Jacqueline, he picked off his rivals one by one before heading KIsha King two out and cruising home twelve lengths clear. This gave Coward her 21st winner of the season, a new personal best, and was just reward for her dedication. After riding at the Tattersalls International Point-to-Point on Friday, she left her hotel at 4.15am to catch the 6.30 flight from Dublin to Leeds/Bradford before heading north to partner Narciso.
Sharpened up by a first time visor, Dark Moon (right) travelled well and jumped fluently to land the Mr & Mrs Geoff Gale Men's Open Race under the experienced Guy Brewer. After being sent on a mile from home, the 9 year old was left clear when Ramborob unseated three out, however, after being ten lengths up at the last he began to tire on the long run-in and held on by a rapidly diminishing two and a half lengths margin. Hovingham-based trainer, Freya Brewer said of the winner: ''All our horses were laid low with a virus from mid-February for a couple of months and the break seems to have freshened him up.''
After a string of near misses, Tom's Pride (left) deservedly got his head in front in the Ward Hadaway Open Maiden Race. Yerwot made a bold bid for glory from the front under Richard Smith but, after being outjumped and headed three out, was always fighting a losing battle from that point and went down by three lengths. This was a 14th winner of the season for Newton-by-the-Sea owner/trainer, Victor Thompson, equalling last year's record tally. The 10 year old, bought privately in Ireland last year, is a late developer, having only only been broken in 2011 and finished six lengths 2nd of 16 on his hunt racing debut in Ireland in May 2012. The victory was a perfect send-off for jockey, Tristan Davidson, who flew from Glasgow to Benidorm on Sunday morning for his stag party, five weeks before he gets married to Emma Ritchie.
Steven Fox's decision to employ catch-me-if-you-can tactics on Quix (right) came up trumps in Saturday's Border Hunt fixture at a sun-drenched Hexham Racecourse. The 7 year old didn't see another rival in the Carrs Billington (Wooler) two and a half mile Open Maiden Race and kept up the gallop all the way to the line to beat Sposalizio by two lengths.
This was a first training success for Penton near Longtown-based Gemma Anderson, who said of Kevin Barker's charge: ''He was only bought a month ago after I saw him listed on the Jumping For Fun Classified Ads website. This was his third run for us in a fortnight and he has improved each time.''
18 year old Fox said of the winner: ''He has a high cruising speed and was just idling in front in the closing stages. He will be even better next season on good ground.''
Four mares contested the concluding Bill Aitchison South Northumberland Hunts Club Members Race and, appropriately, Border Flora (right) carried the sponsor's colours to success. Maura My Love dictated a slow pace until headed six out by Border Flora. The latter then maintained a narrow advantage until Tom Hamilton's mount led again approaching two out and looked to have the prize sewn up when two lengths clear at the last. However, as she proved at Dalston on Easter Monday, Border Flora is a tough nut to crack when the chips are down and stayed on strongly under Jamie Lyttle to edge in front inside the last hundred yards and snatch a head verdict.
Tristan Davidson landed the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship for the fourth season in a row. He finished on 84pts (including 13 winners), with runner-up Nick Orpwood on 44pts, and Callum Bewley in third place on 33pts.
Despite riding only one winner at the last nine meetings, Catherine Walton carried off the Area Ladies Championship for the third year in a row. Her final tally of 36pts left her 9pts ahead of Joanna Walton, with Amie Waugh in third on 26pts.
Insurance broker, Andrea Taylor landed the Area Novice Riders Championship. Ex-chaser, Sotovik provided her with 80% of her tally of 20pts, with three wins and two second place finishes from six starts. Holly Harper was runner-up on 12pts, with Ross Chapman in third on 8pts.
Victor Thompson's stable star, Tommysteel was a worthy winner of the £500 prize for the Champion Area Horse sponsored by George F. White. He won six times and his tally of 26pts left him 8pts in front of Ocarina and stable companion, Senor Alco.
The Area Novice Horse Championship sponsored by Victor Thompson went to former selling hurdler, Raifteiri. Willie Young's 6 year old Galileo gelding was a model of consistency with one win at Crossford and five 2nd place finishes from seven outings. His tally of 14pts left him 4pts ahead of Moscow Menace and Tommys Lad.
The victory of Tom's Pride in the penultimate Open Maiden Race of the season meant that the Percy (104pts) snatched the John Swan Ltd Hunt Awards by a single point from the FIfe.
For the record, the 16 surviving Northern Area meetings produced a total of 1628 entries and 856 runners, with an average of 7.57 per race. These are the lowest totals of entries and runners since the 1990 season.