On the day when Derek O’Connor became the first jockey to ride 1,000 point-to-point winners, at Cragmore, there was plenty of riding talent on show at Sinnington Point-to-Point at Duncombe Park in Helmsley.
Youngster William Easterby showcased his riding ambitions with a superb double and a couple of placed efforts while 17-year-old Harry Bannister enhanced his growing reputation with a winner and two placed efforts too.
With a great turn-out and perfect racing conditions it was a little bit disappointing that the first race, the Campbell & Penty Ltd Hunt members race, attracted only two runners.
It turned out to be little more than a hack around for long odds-on favourite Zitenka, ridden by William Easterby and trained by Sarah Easterby, who coasted home from a heavily-eased John Dillon.
The second race, The Savills Confined Hunts Race, also saw a well-supported favourite put up an impressive display as the Bannister-ridden Roycano cruised home by eight lengths for trainer Stephanie Easterby after a good round of jumping, before scooting clear of Botany Cove under Jacqueline Coward, and Kings Lodge, ridden by William Easterby, on the run-in.
The Mixed Open race, sponsored by Browns of York, saw the biggest surprise of the day as the seemingly unfancied Camden came home strongest under a power -packed ride from William Easterby to just get the better of the Joanne Mason-ridden Royal Deal.
At odds of 20/1 very few expected Camden to build on his fifth place finish last time out at Sheriff Hutton, but this was certainly no fluke and was the second part of a double for handler Sarah Easterby.
Young Hurricane finished third for Richard Tierney, with Ganbei.
The best spectacle of the day was saved for The Veterans and Novice riders race, which was the fifth race on the bumper card.
A very competitive renewal saw 13 runners go to post with joint 2/1 favourites Opera Og and Trop Fort expected to dominate.
Talented young jockey Sean Murray employed exaggerated waiting tactics aboard his own horse Opera Og, who travelled sweetly off the pace in behind runners, while Millers Reef and Trop Fort fought out the early running.
Coming into the final bend it was Tommie O’Brien who kicked for home aboard the less-fancied Millers Reef, but with Opera Og in his slipstream and travelling the best he looked the likeliest winner.
But an awkward head carriage seemingly got the better of Opera Og in the closing stages and a after a great duel up the run-in it was Millers Reef who eventually stuck his neck out when it mattered to just deny the unlucky Opera Og, who will surely get a much-deserved victory before long.
Shantou Prince ran out a very cosy winner of the first division of the maiden race, sponsored by JM Finn & Co, taking this race by 15 lengths from Banderitos and William Easterby, who keeps improving and can pick up a maiden race this season.
Peter Beaumont’s homebred Shannon Silver was a length-and-a-half further back in third under his grandson Henry Morsehead.
Joanna Mason gained a well deserved victory on Comedinewithme in the second division of the maiden, sponsored by Haxton developments Ltd.
The pair had finished a very close second two weeks previously and Joanna felt that she had jumped greenly that day and would improve for the run.
Aldreth was a neck further back in second for Bannister and Knightofthegarter showed a big improvement on his debut to finish third.
There was also a sweet victory for the ever-impressive Will Milburn aboard Six a Side in the Restricted Race as he edged out his girlfriend Emma Todd into second.
The 10-1 shot was enjoying his first run of the season.
Todd finished second by five lengths on Ruby Bay and Baileys Benchmark was third under Harry Kinder, who was having his second ride.
All three jockeys work for Mark Walford.
l On Saturday up in Newcastle we will see one of the highlights of their National Hunt calendar as horses come under orders for the Eider Chase.
Ran over four miles and one furlong in what is likely to be testing ground, it certainly isn’t a place for the faint- hearted and emphasis will clearly be on stamina.
One horse who may lack in ability and a touch a of class but certainly has an abundance of stamina is the Sandy Thomson trained Neptune Equester.
A victory last time out over four miles on soft ground at Kelso proves he will stay the trip and with an entry in the Crabbies Grand National in April he would certainly have to be winning a race like this to get raised enough in the handicap to earn a place in that famous race.
Thomson proved the well-being of his horses when his stable star Seeyouatmidnight ran a superb second on Saturday first time out so all angles point to a decent run at a decent price.
Neptune Equester, Eider Chase, Newcastle, Saturday, 14.55, 33/1 (Coral)