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Berwickshire at Friars Haugh
Sunday 3rd April 2016
by Peter Burgon

Bonchester Bridge jockey, Joanna Walton and Kinneston trainer, Nick Alexander shared the honours with doubles in the Berwickshire fixture at Friars Haugh, Kelso on Sunday.

Walton, 21, initiated her double on Molten Brown in the Crabtree & Crabtree Border Hunts Club Members Race to provide owner/trainer, Tony Hogarth with his first winner between the flags since Morello Brig landed the Lauderdale Hunt Race at Mosshouses on 3rd May 1980. After heading the favourite, Great Gusto three out, the 11 year old gradually forged clear from the next to score by four lengths. Walton said: "He's been a much better horse this season, was always travelling well here and found plenty when I kicked for home after three out."

Oscar Stanley brought up Walton's double in the Watson Seeds Ladies Open Race, reversing the placings with Sharivarry from Easter Monday's race at Dalston on 4lb better terms. Sent on four out, her mount never looked like being pegged back in the home straight and still had three lengths in hand at the line. The victory will hopefully be a tonic for owner, Diana Blythe who was not feeling too well and was unable to attend. After sending out Durban Gold to land a Kelso Hunters' Chase on Saturday under daughter, Joanna, the win rounded off a great weekend for trainer, Di, who said: "He's had some treatment on his back since Monday and that's definitely made a difference as he jumped much straighter today.".

Rossini's Dancer set the ball rolling for Alexander with his second course win of the season under son, Kit in the Brown Shipley Men's Open Race. On his 81st career outing, the 11 year old led from four out but had to pull out all the stops in the closing stages to secure a short head verdict over the gallant Senor Alco. Alexander, who is enjoying his best ever campaign under Rules with 29 winners, said: "He's a very quirky individual and you need to keep him fresh. He'll now have a short break before running at Perth on April 21 or Balcormo Mains two days later."

Allthekingshorses struck gold on his first run for the Alexander yard in the Bill Hardie Memorial NPPA Club Members Race for veteran and novice riders. Always prominent, he took it up after three out in the hands of younger brother, Jamie and stayed on well to beat Badger Foot by six lengths in a fast time. Nick Alexander said: "Formerly with Philip Hobbs, he's a 124-rated chaser and only cost £5000 at Doncaster Sales in January. He appreciated this big drop in class after being campaigned under Rules since making a successful pointing debut in Ireland in March 2011. He was suited by the strong pace and surprised me a bit as I thought he was only 80% fit."

Following the victory of Molten Brown in the colours of Northern Area Point-to-Point Association Secretary, Tony Hogarth, half an hour later it was the turn of NPPA Chairman, Robert Miller-Bakewell to see his colours carried into the winners enclosure by For Yes in the Meadowhead-Parks.Co.Uk Open Maiden Race. Dictating a steady pace from the second fence under Harriett Bryce, the 7 year old hardly made a mistake throughout the three and a quarter mile trip and extended his advantage from two out to beat Lockiesedge by three lengths. Bryce, 21, who works full-time for Selkirk trainer, Stuart Coltherd, husband of the winner's handler, Lesley, bought the gelding on Robert's behalf for £5000 at Doncaster Sales last May. She said of her mount: "He's a brilliant jumper and that's what won him the race. He was gaining ground at his fences and picked up again as soon as anything came to challenge."

After being given plenty of time to recover from a crashing fall at Corbridge five weeks ago, Catchamat made it three wins from four starts this term in the TBA Mares Club Members Race. Held up off the pace in the early stages, Catherine Walton's mount made smooth headway on the second circuit to track Barachois Silver from the final ditch before taking a slender lead four out. Changing gear off the home turn, the 7 year old was three lengths up at the last and had doubled that advantage at the line. This was a 70th career winner between the flags for Walton, who said: "She's class. The race played into her hands as I got her settled and jumping well. She has a great turn of foot and might have one more run before the Heart Of All England Maiden Hunters' Chase at Hexham on April 30."

Newton-by-the-Sea owner/trainer, Victor Thompson's great run continued as S for Estuary gave him an 8th winner inside the last three weeks, including 1 under Rules, in the Subaru Restricted Race. Given a positive ride by Cumbrian sheep farmer and licensed trainer, Tristan Davidson, the 7 year old made virtually every yard of the running and found a bit extra when pressed on the run-in to score by a length from the favourite, Paddy's Wish.

There was a tie between Kit Alexander and Catherine Walton for the Rainy Brown Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the leading rider at the Friars Haugh meetings.

After 8 of this season's scheduled Northern Area fixtures, Kit Alexander leads Tom Hamilton by 17pts in the Men's Championship, Catherine Walton leads Kelly Bryson & Rachael McDonald by 20pts in the Ladies Championship, while Connor Wood has a slender 1pt advantage over Laura Fenwick in the Novice Riders Championship.

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