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College Valley & North Northumberland
Sunday 8th March 2015
by Peter Burgon

Crazy Diamond became the first horse in the country to win four times this season when taking the Saffery Champness Men's Open Race in the College Valley & North Northumberland fixture at Alnwick on Sunday.

After hitting the front five out, the result was never in doubt and it was one-way traffic down the home straight as Nick Orpwood's mount bolted up by twenty lengths from Ballyvesey.

This made it six winners from six runners for first season trainer, Jessica McKie, daughter of the 11 year old's owner, Victoria, who said: "He did plenty of eventing on firm ground and didn't mind this faster surface. Future plans are not confirmed but the Buccleuch Cup Maiden Hunters' Chase at Kelso on April 13 is a possibility."

Appropriately, the Collingwood Arms Elisabeth Joicey Memorial Open Maiden, the 26th and final race of Alnwick's 2014-15 programme, went to Dun Faw Good in the colours of Clerk of the Course, Tom Oates, to give Flotterton handler, Claire Walton a memorable success with her first runner. Confidently ridden by Claire's daughter, Catherine, the 8 year old made virtually every yard of the running and gradually forged clear from three out to beat Nelly La Rue by ten lengths.

Dun Faw Good's dam, Dun Rose won 6 Points as well as the 2005 Buccleuch Cup, while his grand-dam, Dun Gay Lass won 9 of her 13 career starts and was beaten a head by Lovely Citizen in the 1991 Cheltenham Foxhunters, only being caught in the last few strides after a stirrup iron snapped on the run-in.
Oates, who was given Dun Rose as a wedding present in 2005 by Phyllis Claxton, said of the home-bred winner: "He was badly injured on a gate as a foal and then had lots of niggling injuries as a 4 and 5 year old, costing me plenty in vet's bills. He learned a lot in his first season last year and was suited here by better ground."

Captain Redbeard justified strong market support when making a winning debut between the flags in the Bond Dickinson Open Maiden Race over two and a half miles. After cruising into the lead three out, Sam Coltherd didn't have to move a muscle on the run-in as his mount cheekily scored by two lengths from Anddante. Coltherd, 16, who works full-time in his father, Stuart's Selkirk yard, said of the 6 year old: "He is still very green and jumped a bit sketchily at times but was pulling my arms out and had plenty left in the tank at the finish."

Alnwick land agent, George White was on hand to see his 9 year old home-bred gelding, Bafana Choice secure a third course victory in the Subaru Restricted Race. Given a positive front-running ride by Kate Rowntree, he had the prize sewn up three out and was able to coast home a distance in front of Duhallowcountry.

White commented: "He has had 2 split tendon operations following leg trouble in the past and I hope he comes out of this well as I would love to run him in the Heart Of All England Maiden Hunters' Chase at Hexham on May 2, a race I have always wanted to win."

Beggar's Velvet had been an early faller at Corbridge the previous week but jumped superbly this time to land the UBS Wealth Management Ladies Open Race under Rachael McDonald. He gradually reeled in the pace-setting Keeverfield on the final circuit, before taking it up three out and kept his rival at bay in the closing stages to score by two lengths.

Winning owner/trainer, Drew Holmes said: "Cheekpieces have made all the diference with him. He has earned a break after six runs since mid-December. He stays all day and might run next in a three miles and three furlongs Sedgefield Hunters' Chase on April 5."

After making all the running to land the Percy Men's Open three weeks ago, Whitwell-on-the-Hill raider, Mister Splodge struck gold again in the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders. Partnered for the first time by Ross Chapman, he was in the leading trio from the outset but had been headed by Pyjama Game when the latter lost around a dozen lengths after almost going the wrong side of the running rail shortly after bypassing the first fence on the final circuit. A rejuvenated Ocarina took it up from that point until Mister Splodge regained the initiative two out. Chapman's mount stayed on gamely from the last to repel a renewed challenge from Pyjama Game by half a length, with Ocarina a further two lengths away in third.

Chapman, 18, who is based at Lucinda Russell's Milnathort yard, was very grateful to her assistant trainer, Nick Orpwood for recommending him to Mister Splodge's owner/trainer, Sarah Brotherton earlier in the week.

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