Rain and mud at Alnwick but there are smiles all round as we enjoy another AGA cracker

The north-east weather men had promised us sunshine by the time the first race was under way, but instead we had rain, mist, more rain, black and grey clouds and loads of mud, with the sun finally appearing as we started our journey home! But that didn’t matter, and it all just added to the drama as we were treated to a fabulous days racing, which included yet another exciting and competitive AGA ladies open race.

No AGA hat ... yet!
No AGA hat … yet!
Ashtonmore is tacked up before the first race
Ashtonmore is tacked up before the first race

Some creative parking (which may or may not have involved something being moved) was followed by a quick trundle around the lorry park, although the rain ensured that not many people were willing to leave the shelter of their lorries.

Contemplating the day ahead, and maybe a little reluctant to leave the shelter of the lorry?
Contemplating the day ahead, and maybe a little reluctant to leave the shelter of the lorry?

The sponsors bar had no shortage of customers
The sponsors bar had no shortage of customers

The sponsors hut was well populated and the doorman had his work cut out checking badges, in fact Mrs S nearly didn’t get in as she had left hers in the car. The “I’m with him” line is obviously one that has been used before, but it worked and she was in!

Barachois Silver and Steven Fox, winners of the  NPPA Club Members race
Barachois Silver and Steven Fox, winners of the NPPA Club Members race
A very muddy Ashtonmore after finishing 4th in the first race
A very muddy Ashtonmore after finishing 4th in the first race
That was a hard slog!
That was a hard slog!
Central Flame and Catherine Walton, winners of the Open Maiden 456&7yo
Central Flame and Catherine Walton, winners of the Open Maiden 456&7yo
Hardy Oscar and Kate Leckenby, 3rd in the Open Maiden 456&7yo
Hardy Oscar and Kate Leckenby, 3rd in the Open Maiden 456&7yo

I love days like this, although I only have to clean my wellies and jacket when I return home, cleaning muddy tack and even muddier horses must be great fun!

National Champion Jacqueline Coward has just finished 7th on Asheanymoney in the Open Maiden
National Champion Jacqueline Coward has just finished 7th on Asheanymoney in the Open Maiden
L-R: Claire Metcalfe, Kelly Bryson and Wendy Hamilton outside the weighing room
L-R: Claire Metcalfe, Kelly Bryson and Wendy Hamilton outside the weighing room
Emily Young (centre, pink hat) is about to tuck into some lunch - I think I may have promised not to use this pic!
Emily Young (centre, pink hat) is about to tuck into some lunch – I think I may have promised not to use this pic!
David Topping and Wendy Kendall
David Topping and Wendy Kendall
The jockeys head out for the Mens Open
The jockeys head out for the Mens Open

On our last visit to Alnwick in December Mrs S refused to leave the AGA van, but today she was running around like a spring lamb (slight exaggeration) and seemed to be relishing the underfoot conditions!

The Falklander (number 17) has just won the Mens Open at 16/1
The Falklander (number 17) has just won the Mens Open at 16/1
Back On The Road (4th)
Back On The Road (Jamie Alexander), 4th in the Mens Open
Captain Americo (Russell Lindsay) - runner-up in the Mens Open
Captain Americo (Russell Lindsay) – runner-up in the Mens Open
All smiles as Falklander returns to the winners enclosure after winning the Mens Open
All smiles as Falklander returns to the winners enclosure after winning the Mens Open
It's a dirty job at times!
It’s a dirty job at times! Jamie Alexander looks forward to a soak in the hot tub when he gets back to the changing room …

The fellas were a bit mucky – well, plastered in mud would be a more apt description – and now it was the girls turn to brave the elements. Eight declared runners from an entry of eleven was excellent (one short of my Friday prediction of seven), and the scene was set for another competitive AGA ladies open race.

Kelly Bryson and Claire Metcalfe
Kelly Bryson and Claire Metcalfe
DSC_0947
Supreme Builder (Rachael McDonald)
A cheeky grin from Siobhan Doolan
A cheeky grin from Siobhan Doolan (which is standard)
Radharc Na Mara (Holly Harper)
Radharc Na Mara (Holly Harper)
Newyearsresolution (Amie Waugh)
Newyearsresolution (Amie Waugh)
Sea Scout leads the field on the first circuit of the AGA ladies open
Sea Scout leads the field on the first circuit of the AGA ladies open
Our friends from AGA distributor Lillie of Selkirk (Grant & Ron) watch the racing
Our friends from AGA distributor Lillie of Selkirk (Grant & Ron) watch the AGA ladies open
Newyearsresolution (Amie Waugh) far left, jumps the last ahead of Non Dom (Siobhan Doolan) centre, and eventual winner Sacred Mountain (Catherine Walton) in the AGA Ladies Open race
Newyearsresolution (Amie Waugh) far left, jumps the last ahead of Non Dom (Siobhan Doolan) centre, and eventual winner Sacred Mountain (Catherine Walton) in the AGA Ladies Open race

You may notice that there is a pic of the first three home jumping the last fence, and then there’s a lot of nice pics from the post race presentation, however, there’s none from the winners enclosure. That’s because the last fence is a long way from the paddock if you’re not fit, and it’s a lot quicker to get from the finishing line to the paddock if you’re on horseback. No excuse though, and the fitness issue is being addressed – as you will know if you use Snapchat – although I had to laugh when when racegoer remarked “that AGA man needs a wind op the way he was blowing walking back up the side of the paddock”.

Pulled up! Our very muddy national champion, Jacqueline Coward
Pulled up! Our very muddy national champion, Jacqueline Coward
Ron Lillie (far left) and Grant Lillie (far right) of AGA present trophies to the winning connections following the AGA Ladies Open race at Alnwick, which was won by Sacred Mountain (Catherine Walton), also in the photo are L-R: Claire Walton (Catherines mam), Charlotte Walton (Catherine's sister), Jimmy Walton (owner/trainer) and Frankie Walton (owner)
Ron Lillie (far left) and Grant Lillie (far right) of AGA present trophies to the winning connections following the AGA Ladies Open race at Alnwick, which was won by Sacred Mountain (Catherine Walton), also in the photo are L-R: Claire Walton (Catherines mam), Charlotte Walton (Catherine’s sister), Jimmy Walton (owner/trainer) and Frankie Walton (owner)
L-R: Mark Fitzpatrick, Charlotte Walton, Alice Walton, Catherine Walton & Dan Walden
L-R: Mark Fitzpatrick, Charlotte Walton, Alice Walton, Catherine Walton & Dan Walden

That’s two new AGA jackets for Catherine Walton now, and it’s safe to say that we have a live title contender from the north-east (which is great for our series). We’re heading for Friars Haugh in the Scottish Borders this weekend for another Northern area fixture, and you wouldn’t bet against Catherine notching a hat-trick of AGA wins!

L-R: Ron Lillie (far left) and Grant Lillie (far right) of AGA, with Catherine Walton and Margaret Walton (Charlotte's gran)
L-R: Ron Lillie (far left) and Grant Lillie (far right) of AGA, with Catherine Walton and Margaret Walton (Charlotte’s gran)

My race day is non-stop, with lots of photos and lots of talking … and lots of AGA hats, but there’s never enough time to talk to everybody! With that in mind there’s no surprise that the photos tend to be fairly random, and I’m never going to manage to capture something from every race, but that all adds to the fun!

Wendy Hamilton leads in Cave Hunter and Tom Hamilton
Wendy Hamilton leads in Cave Hunter and Tom Hamilton
Joanna Walton and Jacqueline Coward
Joanna Walton and Jacqueline Coward
Andrea Taylor and her new puppy, Tinker, who is making his pointing debut!
Andrea Taylor and her new puppy, Tinker, who is making his pointing debut!
They insisted!
They insisted!

They didn’t really insist, but it was a great idea (not mine), and it was good of them to join in the fun, thanks lads!

L-R: Dan Walden, Andrea Taylor & Tinker, Mark Fitzpatrick
L-R: Dan Walden, Andrea Taylor & Tinker, Mark Fitzpatrick
David Simpson, Tinker & Andrea Taylor
David Simpson, Tinker & Andrea Taylor
Siobhan and Shona looking so sad because they don't have an AGA hat ...
Siobhan and Shona looking so sad because they don’t have an AGA hat …

Siobhan Doolan and Shona Everitt are always great craic, but they were looking rather glum as they leaned against the paddock fence, despite Siobhan’s 3rd place in the AGA ladies.

But they've cheered up now because they've got one!
But they’ve cheered up now because they’ve got one!

And this was the reason, they wanted an AGA hat! And what a difference it made, just look at those smiles!

Mr Shahady has just finished 3rd in the Open Maiden
Mr Shahady has just finished 3rd in the Open Maiden
Emma Dunkley after finishing 7th on Polobury
Emma Dunkley after finishing 7th on Polobury
Kit Alexander & Russell Lindsay
Kit Alexander & Russell Lindsay after the Open Maiden
Katie Walton, the youngest (and cutest) person to own an AGA hat has thoroughly enjoyed her day
Katie Walton, the youngest (and cutest) person to own an AGA hat has thoroughly enjoyed her day

And that’s it for this week, the car needed three strong blokes (I was one of them) to push it out of the mud, and the AGA van needed the tractor, and just as we pulled onto the main road the sun came out! No complaints whatsoever though as we had a tremendous day (one of my best ever days at a point-to-point), and I’d like to sign off this blog post by thanking George White and the team at Alnwick, cheers!

 

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