Long haul to Alnwick proves that the new look AGA van gets the trip

Terrific point-to-point racing in the north-east but we miss out on longest traveller as Carolyn Tanner, Lorna Brooke and the Hill family take the honours. Meanwhile, the AGA man’s playlist takes a turn for the worse, but we enjoy a tasty treat from Harry Ramsden’s on the journey home!

Sunday morning, early start, and it’s still dark! Not to worry, after a cup of tea and a tweet we were heading north. Yes, I said ‘we’, as Mrs S was making her seasonal reappearance, but would she like the going, and would she like my choice of music? I’ll answer the second question first, no! As this is a family blog I can’t repeat what she said, but I can tell you that she took charge of the CD folder just after we passed Durham. This was when things took a turn for the worse and I drove onto the course with ‘Relight My Fire‘ ringing in my ears, yes, I’m admitting that I listened to Take That Greatest Hits (from 1996), and I didn’t turn it off.

We can see the sea!
We can see the sea!

If you are on a point-to-point course in December you know there’s a fair chance that it may be cold, but if you can see the sea – and we could – then you know it will be freezing. It was.

The grey mare Silver Carousel after finishing 4th in the Open Maiden (Div 1) 456&7yo race
The grey mare Silver Carousel after finishing 4th in the Open Maiden (Div 1) 456&7yo race

It might have been cold but cap, scarf and gloves were not required today, although I was tempted!

One of these four has just spotted the AGA man! L-R John Smith, Richard Drake, Janet Drake, Fiona Barr
One of these four has just spotted the AGA man! L-R John Smith, Richard Drake, Janet Drake, Fiona Barr

It’s no secret that I love point-to-point racing, but I also love the north east of England (born & raised in Durham City), so I had an extra spring in my step today.

Pointing reporter Carolyn Tanner chats to National Champion, Jacqueline Coward
Pointing reporter Carolyn Tanner chats to National Champion, Jacqueline Coward

When I looked at the fixture list I thought we were absolutely nailed on for ‘longest traveller’, however, Carolyn Tanner, the Hills (accompanied by bookmaker Neil Astor), and Lorna Brooke had all racked up more miles than us to get here. Lorna broke her journey up with an overnight stay at the Cowards, while the Hills stayed overnight with some old friends, Ian & Tockie McKie – and rumour has it that there may have been some singing and dancing.

L-R Bookmaker Neil Astor, rider Joe Hill and trainer Alan Hill watch Division 2 of the Open Maiden 456&7yo race
L-R Bookmaker Neil Astor, rider Joe Hill and trainer Alan Hill watch Division 2 of the Open Maiden 456&7yo race
Lorna Brooke, who made a near 600 mile round trip to ride Ben’s Folly in the ladies open race

We’ll be back at Alnwick (West Percy) in January for an AGA ladies open race, but this one was still of great interest – along with the mens open – as points were up for grabs in our owners championship.

Catherine Walton (emerald green cap) enters the paddock before the ladies open, while Fiona Barr (far right) keeps an eye out for her runner, Optimistic Harry
Catherine Walton (emerald green cap) enters the paddock before the ladies open, while Fiona Barr (far right) keeps an eye out for her runner, Optimistic Harry
Reigning National Ladies Point-to-Point Champion, Jacqueline Coward, enters the paddock before the ladies open
Reigning National Ladies Point-to-Point Champion, Jacqueline Coward, enters the paddock before the ladies open
Last minute instructions for Cath Walton (emerald green cap) and last minute adjustments for Jacqueline Coward
Last minute instructions for Cath Walton (emerald green cap) and last minute adjustments for Jacqueline Coward
DSC_1130
Jessica Gillam
DSC_1125
Lorna Brooke
Fun!
While the horses are going down to the start for the ladies open these two are having some fun!
First circuit
Ockey De Neulliac leads Radharc Na Mara on the first circuit

I liked the look of a couple of the runners and studied the bookies boards before deciding to keep my money in my pocket, a wise decision because I wouldn’t have backed the winner.

DSC_0013
Emma Todd and Howareyougoingon
"I've found 2 stone" said Joe O'Shea to anyone who would listen
“I’ve found 2 stone” said Joe O’Shea to anyone who would listen, he also said “smile for the AGA man”

Joe O’Shea said smile for the AGA man and Emma Todd smiled, a lot!

Point-to-Point courses have many vantage points and these racegoers  have bagged a prime spot
Point-to-Point courses have many vantage points and these racegoers have bagged a prime spot
This is a great vantage point as well ...
This is a great vantage point as well …

Mrs S was firmly ensconced in the van and made it clear that’s where she was going to stay – she even put it on facebook – but she did have a steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon, and I was only summoned once, to bring coffee, and I duly obliged.

National Hunt trainer Lawney Hill leads up Earl Grez before the Restricted race
National Hunt trainer Lawney Hill leads up Earl Grez before the Restricted race
Joe Hill
Joe Hill, Neil Astor and Alan Hill

Just look at Alan Hill, while all of us hardy folk from the north-east were wrapped up all he needed was a pullover, and I didn’t see him shiver once!

DSC_0066
We have a lively one here! True Thomas is in good spirits!
1, 2, 3
R-L Dunhallowcountry, Earl Grez and eventual winner, Our Sandy about to leave the paddock
Two can play that game, the AGA man is snapped by Grace Beresford!
Two can play that game, the AGA man is snapped by top Northern photographer Grace Beresford!

Encouraged by her dad, Barry, top photographer Grace Beresford decided to snap me while I was snapping her … but I think she was only pretending. Take a look at her gallery from the day by clicking here, but wait until you have finished reading my blog first!

L-R Caroline Smith with brother Richard Smith, and his girlfriend Lizi Scott
Ferryhill’s finest – L-R Caroline Smith with brother Richard Smith, and his girlfriend Lizi Scott

The time flies when you’re having fun and I always have fun when I’m at a point-to-point meeting. It was good to catch up with so many familiar faces, and great to see the Hills were also having fun:

Racing may be over but there is still time for one last drink
Racing may be over but there is still time to catch up with friends and get stuck into the contents of the boot!

At the beginning of this post I asked the question, “would Mrs S like the going?”, well, I’ve already mentioned that she didn’t leave the van so I think we have our answer!

Mrs Drake shows off her pink AGA polo shirt
Smiling faces when we arrived and still smiling when we left, Mrs Drake shows off her pink AGA polo shirt

As we drove through the lorry park Mrs Drake was keen to remind me that she was wearing her pink AGA polo shirt – I think she needs one of our new pink AGA hats to go with it!

AGA hats
New for this season – AGA hats, lots of colours and styles available, for girls & boys!

With the heater on full we headed off for our overnight stay in my spiritual home, Durham, which would include a brief (but very nice) Simpson family get together.

The AGA van pays a visit to Mr & Mrs Simpson (senior)
The AGA van pays a visit to Mr & Mrs Simpson (senior)

The journey home was completed on Monday and was notable for two things: I managed to regain control of the CD folder (phew), and we had a rather nice treat from Harry Ramsden’s. Probably not the kind of thing you would expect to read about on a point-to-point blog, but it was very enjoyable so I feel the need to share it!

Next time we're passing I'll be in this queue!
Next time we’re passing I’ll be in this queue!

Woodall services on the M1 (near Sheffield) has been a regular stop over the years and if you’re anywhere near, and you’re hungry, then I’d like to recommend you give the new Harry Ramsden’s a try. We had a portion of proper chips, thick & tasty gravy, and a very filling (and oh so tasty) steak & ale pie. Yes, you could taste the steak and the ale, we’ll be back!

Happy Christmas and I’ll look forward to seeing you at Chaddesley Corbett & Cottenham!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s