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Duke of Buccleuch's at Friars Haugh
Saturday 14th March 2020

by Peter Burgon

As well as attracting 39 runners on a seven race card, including long distance travellers from Denbigh, Inverurie and Marlborough, last Saturday's Duke of Buccleuch's fixture at Friars Haugh, Kelso also saw a record total of 27 ponies taking part in three races over a half mile course along the riverside straight.

Nick Orpwood recorded the first four-timer of his career and is now 28pts ahead of Kit Alexander in the Hexham Racecourse Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship.

The locally trained favourite, Just Don't Know set the ball rolling for Orpwood when breaking his duck in the Weatherbys Open Maiden Race. In command after two out, the seven-year-old still had to be kept up to his work on the run-in to hold a late challenge from Teds Charley Roe (Lucy Brown) by half a length, with Marlborough raider, Close Friend (Jack Andrews) a further two lengths away in third.

The winner, bought by Rob Bewley as a three-year-old, is a half brother to Sue Smith's 130-rated chaser, I Just Know.

Orpwood's day got even better on course specialist, Eco Warrior in the Brewin Dolphin Men's Open Race. Carrying the colours of Carolyn Maclay, the ten-year-old didn't jump as fluently as solitary rival Killer Crow (Kit Alexander) in the early stages but gradually warmed to his task and soon put the race to bed after cruising into the lead at the last. Unbeaten on his last six visits to Friars Haugh, this was a first success in Open company.

Takethepunishment followed up his January win at the Jedforest meeting in the Turcan Connell NPPA Riders Conditions Race to bring up Orpwood's treble. The ten-year-old made virtually every yard of the running and forged clear after two out to score by ten lengths from Sorcier (Lucy Brown), with Arizona Bound a further one and a half lengths away in third under Gregor Walkinshaw, who was making his debut in the saddle.

Orpwood completed his four-timer on the evergreen Settledoutofcourt in the concluding Galbraith Duke of Buccleuch's Hunt Conditions Race. Carrying the famous Grand National winning colours of One For Arthur, the fourteen-year-old jumped superbly and galloped his rivals into submission before coasting home ten lengths ahead of Molten Brown (Joanna Walton).

This was a first winner as a trainer for Ailsa McClung, who has worked at Lucinda Russell's Milnathort yard since September 2016. She couldn't take the ride on this occasion after getting concussed in a last fence fall from stable companion, Fortunes Hiding at Alnwick the previous week. Orpwood said: ''I knew he stayed 4 miles so made sure it was a true test of stamina. He travelled like a dream and met every fence on a perfect stride.''

Solstice Twilight gave Chris Dawson's Sedgefield yard a first winner of the season in the Rossie House Jockey Club Mares Open Maiden Race. Positively ridden by the in-form Lyall Hodgins, the eight-year-old stayed on strongly to score by eight lengths from Silken Moonlight (Sam Lee), with Denbigh raider, Silver Star Mix (Fred Timmis) a promising third on her debut over fences.

''She didn't work very well during the week and is not the quickest but stays all day,'' said Dawson. who added: ''First-time cheekpieces and a tongue-tie definitely made a difference and the patience of Dorothy Ritzema, who has owned her for five years, has finally been rewarded.''.

Gearoid Costelloe's 700-mile round trip from Marlborough paid dividends with Hard Ground's win in the Punter Southall Wealth Intermediate Race. Patiently ridden by Jack Andrews to make sure he got the trip in holding ground, the six-year-old took it up approaching the last to beat Passnotalegend (Amie Waugh) a shade cosily by two lengths.

The winner was bought for £4,500 at Tattersalls Ascot Sale in November, three weeks after landing a Portrush Maiden contest under Jamie Codd. He is obviously quite versatile as his last time out victory three weeks ago in Restricted company came at the sharp Higham track.

Warwickshire-based Andrews has been clocking up thousands of miles in recent weeks in pursuit of winners, with visits to Ampton (March 7th-4 winners), Alnwick (March 8th-1 winner)) and Fakenham (March 13th-1 hunter chase winner), and he took his seasonal tally between the flags to 21 with another winner at High Easter near Chelmsford on Sunday.

There was a very popular first winner for Mhairi Ogilvie, 23, on Landecker in the Saffery Champness Ladies Open Race in the best time of the day. In command before two out, the twelve-year-old powered home ten lengths ahead of Dutch Canyon (Lucy Brown).

Landecker must love racing at Kelso as his other six career victories came over hurdles at the nearby National Hunt track. He is a stable stalwart, having joined Nick Alexander's Kinneston yard after finishing third on debut in a Dromahane Maiden contest in May 2013, and is still a comparative novice over fences as 46 of his 50 career starts have been over hurdles.

Mhairi (5pts) is the new leader of the NPPA Novice Riders Championship, with Isaac Woods (4pts) in second place, while current title holder, Amie Waugh is 6pts ahead of Charlotte Dun in the youngsRPS Ladies Championship, with Lucy Brown (9pts) in third.

In the Buccleuch Arms, St Boswells-sponsored Hunt Awards, the lead is shared by the College Valley & North Northumberland and Duke of Buccleuch's on 24pts, with the Lauderdale (22pts) in third place. The Amie Waugh-trained gelding, Son Of Suzie heads the George F White-sponsored Champion Horse standings, while Rio Des Echanault holds a single point advantage over Matthew Man in the Novice Horse Championship.

The 3 Lyon & Turnbull-sponsored Pony Race winners were Miss Tiggy Winkle (Holly Anderson), Stretcholt Hermes (Joshua Thompson) and Company Affair (Archie Young).

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