Nine years after making a winning debut at Overton, the diminutive Sea Scout is still going strong and sailed in for a remarkable 14th career victory in the Kathleen Craggs 100th Birthday Celebration Ladies Open Race in Sunday's well supported Morpeth fixture at a sun-drenched Tranwell.
Given a positive ride by Rachael McDonald, the 13 year old was always in the leading trio and, after hitting the front three out, kept Molten Brown at bay from the next to score by three quarters of a length. Russell Ross, husband of the winner's Iveston-based trainer, Julie, said: "He's been bouncing at home all week and carrying 19lb less than in Men's Opens made a big difference. He'll probably run next at Balcormo Mains on April 23."
Small in stature but with the heart of a lion, Sea Scout has now won at least once in 8 of the last 10 seasons. From 40 career starts between the flags, he has been placed 14 times as well as his 14 wins. It was great to see Kathleen Craggs, just 2 days short of her 100th birthday, presenting the trophies and the racecard included a photograph of her after winning the 1948 Morpeth Adjacent Hunts Race on Zana. Her son, Peter partnered 130 career winners between the flags with the first coming on his mother's gelding, Charge Straight in the 1972 Morpeth Hunt Race at Tranwell.
Beyond The Glen and Summoned made it a case of doubles all round for Alnwick owner George White, Billingham trainer Susan Grant and Ferryhill jockey Richard Smith. Beyond The Glen still had plenty to do with a circuit to go in the two and a half mile North East Grains Open Maiden Race but made eye-catching progress to track the two leaders rounding the home turn with four to jump. Smith's mount was only one length down and holding every chance when the odds-on favourite, Christmas In USA fell at the last, leaving the 6 year old fifteen lengths ahead of the former David Pipe-trained hurdler, Northern Bay. Smith said of the home-bred mare: "That was her first proper race as she fell at the third at Charm Park on her debut. She hit a couple of fences early on and I had to sit tight but gradually warmed to her task as the race unfolded. She is still very green but I'm sure she'll stay three miles on better ground."
Summoned completed a memorable day for connections with his second win of the season in the Subaru Restricted Race. Content to sit in mid-division for much of the contest, the response was immediate when Smith pressed the button in the home straight as the 5 year old cruised to the front two out and comfortably held off Mr Bingley on the flat to score by one and a half lengths. White said: "After being pulled up at Alnwick six weeks ago, I decided to get his pallet fired to aid his breathing and that has done the trick."
Following last week's double at Sheriff Hutton, these latest successes took Smith's career tally to 80, including 6 under Rules.
Kinder Scout returned from a near ten and a half month absence from the track to land the Go As You Please Morpeth Hunt Members Race in the hands of her trainer, Amie Waugh. Preacher's Belle led most of the way under Rory Bevin and still had the call at the last but couldn't repel a late thrust from Kinder Scout who led inside the last fifty yards to snatch a one length verdict. The 9 year old is owned by her breeder Dr Robert Fairs and Waugh said of her: "I thought she might need the run after being unraced since last May but she did it well, staying on strongly in the closing stages and should improve again next time on better ground."
TC Spitfire caused an upset by making every yard of the running under Chris Dawson in the Metnor Group Men's Open Race. The favourite, Wicklow Lad threw down a big challenge from four out but couldn't get past him and was still one length down at the line. Dawson said: " I hadn't ridden him before and when I saw he'd been pulled up on his last two starts I thought it might be a wasted journey. However, he never gave me an anxious moment and kept finding more when it mattered."
The 9 year old winner is owned and trained by Lady Susan Watson, who is based between York and Malton and was making her first visit to Tranwell. "My horses all had a virus earlier in the season but are over that now," she explained.
Another long distance raider, Carlos Gardel made the two and a half hour journey from the Silkstone Common near Barnsley yard of Alison Christmas worthwhile by taking the Beacon Creative PPORA Club Members Race for veteran and novice riders in the hands of in-form Middleham-based rider Joe Wright.Sent on about a mile from home, he was three lengths up five out and prevented Milano Magic and Royal Chatelier from getting on terms up the long home straight, eventually beating the former by a length. Wright said of the 11 year old: "He's very tough and kept finding a bit extra when it mattered."
Victor Thompson's Newton-by-the-Sea yard made it 10 winners inside the last four weeks when My Lady West opened her account in the Newcastle Racecourse Supports Northern Point-To-Point Racing Open Maiden Race. Patiently ridden by Kit Alexander, the 7 year old took closer order on the final circuit before taking it up after two out and stayed on well to beat Corolynn by five lengths with long time leader, Lachlan Mor a further three lengths away in third. Alexander, who is now 21pts ahead of Tom Hamilton in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship, said: "I got her switched off early on, settled and jumping well. She cruised into the lead and won very easily in the end."