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Hornby Castle
Sunday 12th April 2015
by Charlotte Russell

It was a cold and windy start for the Bedale point-to-point which took place on Sunday 12th April, but this didn't deter the spectators who were eventually rewarded with warmer conditions. Racing started with the Barkers of Northallerton Confined Hunts Race and nine runners went to post. The winner was Blackthirteen partnered by Jess Gillam, always in touch the pair crept forwards on the second circuit. Almond Court had the narrow lead into the second last until Blackthirteen passed her on the way to the last and stayed on well to win by a length from Almond Court and Tommie Dowson with Son of Flicka and Max Johnson finishing in third. "He's such a tough horse who normally front runs but I was concerned over whether he'd stay as it's a longish track so I tried to keep him covered up a bit. He seemed to really enjoy being amongst the others and just kept finding more," said the wining rider.

Three went to post for the Strutt & Parker Bedale and West of Yore Hunts Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race but there were only two finishers and According To Dan under John Dawson beat Little But Nice and Ross Wilson by two lengths, who made most of the running. Held up and ridden patiently, John brought According To Dan through to jump the last upsides Little But Nice and asserted towards the line. "It's been on Mark's (Whitney, owner) bucket list to win his hunt race," said the winning trainer's daughter Jo Foster. "He organises the sponsorship at the point-to-point and works really hard in the background so I'm thrilled for him. He ran well at Dalston last week but it was a prep and he needed it. I think he's a lovely horse but he only does what he has to," she added.

The Mark Johnston Racing Restricted race became a battle between Banderitos and Anddante with the William Easterby piloted Banderitos getting the better of the two to win by five lengths. Anddante ran an excellent race under Chris Dawson and Spruce Up was three lengths further back for Russell Lindsay.

The Ladies Open, sponsored by Silk Family Law was a very competitive affair but it was Young Hurricane, partnered by Freya Brewer that managed to continue their winning partnership to make this a hat trick of wins on their last three starts. French Seventyfive and Emma Todd put up a good fight on a course that is possibly longer than ideal for him but were beaten a length. Talkonthestreet was five lengths further back on his seasonal debut under Fionn McSharry. "This track suited him better than Askham Bryan," reported winning trainer Guy Brewer. "They don't go that quick so he was keen early on but I was pleased with how he rallied when he was headed on the run in," added Guy.

The George F White Mens Open Race had a prize fund of £1,000 and three runners went to post. My Old Piano was the short priced favourite but couldn't quite hold off the challenge of Executive's Hall, ridden by Elliot Brookbanks. The pair were racing hard from two out but Executive's Hall asserted by three and a half lengths in the fastest time of the day. "We knew My Old Piano was the one to beat but I was worried it would turn into a cat and mouse race and I didn't want ours forced to go on. Elliot did exactly as he was told and I knew he had the pace to go at the end if it turned into a bit of a sprint, I was just worried that the ground went a bit softer as he has more form on better ground but it didn't seem to matter," said winning trainer Sarah Dent.

Point-to-Point racing concluded with the Armstrong Watson Open Maiden Race. Duke Nelson made most of the running, before running violently right handed on the home turn after the first circuit, taking out Shenton in the process, the result of a broken rein. However it was the Brader family's other runner, The Dark Duchess, who was making her racecourse debut that landed the spoils. Ridden by Emma Todd, deputising for the injured Jack Teal, The Dark Duchess jumped fluently from the outset and went into the lead on the final bend to win by 10 lengths. Weaverthorpe, ridden by Craig Hoggart survived a mistake at the second last to finish in second with Smart Act and William Easterby four lengths further back in third. "She's the fifth generation in the Duchess line and we're just delighted with how she performed today," said the winning owner, trainer Charles Brader. "Emma rode a super race but Jack Teal must take the credit for schooling her well, she's a lovely mare and I was impressed with how grown up she was," he added.

The Bedale Hunt Challenge race took place after racing had finished and consisted of one complete circuit of the course, omitting the open ditch with the winner being the closest to the optimum time.

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