The Yorkshire point to point season got under way this weekend at Sheriff Hutton in tremendous style. The meeting since it began has always raised money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and which to date has raised well over £60,000. Runners arrived from all across the country and which in turn provided some useful horses and exciting finishes. One of Yorkshire's up and coming trainers Justin Landy, started the season has he finished last, in flying form, out of his four runners he produced a double by taking both maidens and his two stable stars Knocklong and Ardea were only just denied in the Open contests.
Justin Landy's double started in the Open Maiden courtesy of Sir Lonica and went off the 2-1 favourite under Joe Wright. The winner had been absent from the track since December last year where he was placed in Ireland and his form there has resulted in some talented horses. The pair were always prominent through the race and as they turned for home it was never in doubt despite a small mistake two out and pulled well clear of runner up Pads by 25 lengths, with The Dapper Prince back in third. The winner routed a strong field of runners and looks to have a bright future "Joe's been telling me for months how good he was and Justin can't stop talking about him" said connections who look to have another useful recruit to the Landy stable.
The second leg of the double was completed in the 2m 4f maiden with Ballinahow Bill, this time partnered by last year's leading lady rider Lottie Crane and owned by her father. The 6yo by Dubai Destination had shown minor promise in Ireland but is another who found a new lease of life with his trainer. The pair travelled strongly all the way and turning towards two out the writing was on the wall as Ballinahow Bill strode on from Robin De Sherwood and Salvatore who filled the placings, to win by an eased down 8 lengths "he's not the most straight forward ride so I kept him covered up...Justin is great at getting them bang on first time out" said Lottie who is confident he can carry on progressing through the ranks. A maiden from 16 runs in Ireland and he now looks a shrewd purchase "we bought him privately ; Jimmy King is a serious man for finding horses!" enthused the winning rider.
Maguires Bridge was another young horse to make his presence felt on the day in the Restricted race under Tom Strawson. Maguires Bridge made a likable impression last year when scoring on his debut, however flopped when running at this course in April, he looks to have returned to his earlier promise and could be an exciting recruit to go forward with for trainer Jane Kent and owner Victoria Cottingham. There were several in with a chance jumping two out, but the winner found an extra gear and pulled nicely clear of Monsun Storm and Crazy Penguin who filled the runner up spots, "I thought a lot of him last year when he won, he was maybe a bit big and weak last year, but after that he's impressed me even more, especially to do it so well in that ground" enthused Tom who feels he could be a talented recruit.
The opening race was the Club Members race and due to the high number of entries was split before the day, division one saw an exciting finish as Dance Of Time battled it out with southern raider You Too Pet under Dale Peters. John Dawson piloted the winner and as usual travelled strongly through the race and stuck on well to win, Greensalt was returning from a lengthy absence back in third for Will Easterby and he could improve further with that effort under his belt.
Division two of the Club Members race saw last year's winner to take the race again, Grandturgeon trained by Philip Rowley and ridden by Alex Edwards were sent off the 4-5 favourite and when the winner was committed for home down the home straight he never looked like been caught. Path To Freedom and John Dawson put up a great effort in second but couldn't land a blow on the winner, whilst Two B's who also like stablemate Greensalt has been off the track for some time filled third place under trainer/rider Will Easterby.
There was a big upset in the Ladies Open as two of the outsiders filled first and second to over throw the very short priced favourite Knocklong. Global Power took the honours for southern trainer Heidi Brookshaw, with Sero De Mur closely behind. With little experience between them as the winning rider Leanne Painter was having only her second ever ride in point to points, whilst the second was having only her fourth. The pair looked set to battle it out up the home straight, Knocklong looked in danger early on but he came with a late surge towards the line and was only denied by a head and a neck.
The Mens Open saw another great finish as two very talented horse fought it out up the home straight, Ardea under Joe Wright looked to be getting on top over the last, however One Conemara under John Dawson used his bundles of stamina to fight back and deny the favourite for owner John Nellis. The winner is a dual Grimthorpe Gold Cup winner, which is staged at this track in April and no doubt he will be returning to make it a hat trick, an effort that has only ever been accomplished once before. Third place went to Thinger Licht and Jack Andrews and he displayed his best effort so far.
Next meeting - Sinnington at Duncombe Park on Sunday 11th February. First race 12.30pm
Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point Club at Sheriff Hutton