It might have been one of the warmest days of the year, but heavy rain earlier in the week ensured that the going
was as testing as it has ever been on the point-to-point track at Hexham Racecourse for last Sunday's
Haydon fixture, which brought down the curtain on the 2014 Northern Area season.
It turned out to be a bookmakers benefit with six favourites beaten on the seven race card,
which attracted 42 runners, including 11 Yorkshire raiders.
16 year old Haydon Bridge High School pupil, Charlotte Tailford, who is currently half-way through her GCSE exams, returned to the biggest cheers of the day after riding her first winner on Rennington Blue (right) in the Chesterwood Bastle Holiday Cottage Souh Northumberland Hunts Club Members Race. Always prominent, her mount was left well clear when the leader, Coastley, who was about two lengths up at the time, blundered and unseated Tom Hamilton two out. Rennington Blue stayed on strongly in the closing stages to beat Bonnet Rouge by ten lengths.
Tailford, a graduate of the pony racing ranks, said of the winner: ''He has been a great schoolmaster for me in my first season and jumped well again.'' The victory meant that she finished joint second with Callum Miller in the Northern Area Novice Riders Championship behind runaway winner, Gemma Cochrane. Charlotte's father, Brian, who farms a few miles from the track and is a Joint Master with the Haydon Hunt, also deserves a mention as he finished 3rd on Lekie in the corresponding race in February 1989 when the meeting was held at Downhills, Corbridge.
Despite not jumping fluently, Awman made virtually all the running in the Dennis Common Open Maiden Race over two and a half miles for 4, 5, 6 and 7 year olds, until headed three out by Running Brook (left). The latter was two lengths up at the last under Toby Speke and comfortably held off a renewed challenge from Awman on the long run-in to score by half a length. Carrying the colours of Jamie Matheson, this was a belated first success of the campaign for Galston-based handler, John Smith, who said: ''He was bought as a three year old at Goffs and it has taken a while for the penny to drop.'' Speke has enjoyed his best season to date with nine winners and said of Running Brook: ''He jumped big and bold throughout which meant I had to keep taking a pull and he picked up again when Awman started closing on the flat.''
The remainder of the card belonged to Kirk Yetholm trainer, Clive Storey, who sent out his first treble of the season courtesy of Lowanbehold, Gunner Jack and Sea Wall, all owned by Nicholas Wrigley. In addition, there were doubles for jockeys, Ed Wrigley and Jacqueline Coward, as well as trainer, Cherry Coward.
Lowanbehold (right) set the ball rolling in the Angus Pickworth and Derek Swallow Memorial Restricted Race. On terms with the leaders two out and going well, he gradually forged clear to beat Mission Beach by four lengths, with the favourite, Wizadora a further ten lengths away in third. This was an eleventh winner of the season for jockey, Nick Orpwood, who said of the 7 year old: ''He travelled well from the off and I knew he would stay, so had no worries after hitting the front.'' Previously with Philip Fenton in Ireland, he was bought privately last Summer through Tom Malone. After changing hands, he was subsequently awarded a Kinsale Maiden and so, in effect, this was his first proper win.
The main action at Hexham was preceded by two pony races sponsored by Shaw & Co Solicitors. The contest for ponies 132cm and under
was won by Stambrook Marquesa (Lucy Smith) from Clonross Star (Nick Barratt-Atkin) and Tigga (Marnie Green).
The contest for ponies 148cm and under was won by Doppio Monimento (Sam Coltherd) from Perfect Place (Bruce Lynn) and
Hazelcroft Good Time (Lucy Pittendrigh).
Sam, son of Selkirk trainer, Stuart Coltherd, is 16 in November and already looking forward to riding between the flags next season.
Although this season's total of 1596 entries was the lowest for more than twenty five years, the number of runners remained healthy
with a total of 927 over the 17 meetings and an average of 7.92 per race.
Gunner Jack (left) initiated a double for Ed Wrigley in the Tyne Vale Wealth Management Mixed Open Race. Always in the firing line, the 13 year old was still a couple of lengths behind the favourite, Cave Hunter at the last but found another gear when it mattered to regain the initiative inside the last hundred yards and score by two and a half lengths. As good as ever in 2014, this took his career tally to 21, including 19 between the flags. Ed commented: ''I was determined not to let Cave Hunter get too far in front and the plan worked perfectly. Gunner Jack has bags of stamina and that came into play on the very testing ground in the last half mile.''
Sea Wall (right) completed a red letter day for Storey and the Wrigley family in the WMH Farm Fresh Meats NPPA Club Members Race. In the leading pair from the outset, the 12 year old didn't see anorther rival after being sent on a mile from home and, despite being eased down on the run-in, still had eight lengths to spare over Call Me Mulligan. Winning owner, Nicholas Wrigley was as surprised as most punters by the outcome and remarked: ''He was a gift horse from JP McManus after coming out of training with Jonjo O'Neill and I always thought he wanted quick ground but decided to let him take his chance as this was the last meeting of the season.''
This versatile Giant's Causeway gelding, who started his racing career in a 1m 3f Newbury Maiden in April 2005, has now won 10 times, comprising 2 on the flat, 2 over hurdles, 4 over fences and 2 between the flags.
Jacqueline Coward is only two behind Bridget Andrews in the National Ladies Championship following a double on Ath Dara Boru and The Wayward Lord, both trained by her mother, Cherry. This maintained her 20% strike rate for the season, with 23 winners from 115 rides.
Ath Dara Boru (right) gradually pegged back the leader, Raasay from three out in the Hadrian Electrical Engineering Ltd Open Maiden Race before getting on terms at the last. Coward's mount quickened up nicely on the flat to win a shade cosily by two lengths. Coward said: ''I bought him for £4000 at Ascot Sales last June after he had been placed in Ireland. He has had trouble with his pelvis and has taken a lot of time to come right.''
The Wayward Lord (right) completed Coward's double in the Graham Reader Motor Engineer Intermediate Race. Under a supremely confident waiting ride, he was produced with a perfectly timed challenge to take it up from Five Point Plan at the last, before drawing four lengths clear of Beverley Beck on the run-in. Previously successful in a Catterick Bumper for Mick Easterby in November 2011, he broke down five months later and was off the track until making a Pointing comeback earlier this year.