What a weekend! Our longest drive of the season was rewarded with an incredibly warm welcome and a fabulous days racing as the Northern area did us proud for the second week running. There was another well supported and competitive AGA ladies open race for us to enjoy, and we now have a genuine title contender from the north-east … dare to dream Catherine Walton!
I was smiling all weekend (nothing new there), but I was particularly happy that we were joined by several AGA colleagues from north of the border, one of whom was making his point-to-point debut, it was great to have them all along!
This was our longest trip of the season – what a drive – and Mark & Dan were in Kelso the previous afternoon to meet clerk of the course James Innes, and get everything set up. We had an overnight stay in Selkirk at the County Hotel (which was excellent), and the half hour drive to the course on Sunday morning was one of the most pleasant I have ever done, I think I’ll come back as a tourist!
These three would later be resplendent in AGA beanie hats but you will need to download the latest edition of the fantastic weekly point-to-point round-up, ‘Go Pointing’ if you want to see that photo (and lots more). If you don’t subscribe to this excellent publication then please click here to sign up, this will ensure you get it every Tuesday evening (there are 12 pages this week), it’s essential reading for all pointing enthusiasts.
The Jedforest has a great reputation, not just for the quality of the racing, but also for the wonderful setting. Picturesque doesn’t quite do it justice, but by the end of this season we will have visited 59 point-to-point courses and this one has jumped straight into my top 5!
The AGA ladies open had attracted a quality entry of 16, including the winner of our AGA race at Sheriff Hutton, Ockey De Neulliac, and there was no surprise when 10 of the 16 stood their ground.
Catherine Walton had won the previous two AGA ladies open races and hopes were high that she could make it a hat-trick today. She did, and she is now clear at the top of the AGA iTotal Control Lady Riders’ Championship table with 30 points.
Catherine has a lot of support and I can imagine that there will be a fair few of those supporters heading down to Stratford Racecourse on 30th May for the AGA final as she is firmly in contention to win our championship for lady riders (and there’s double points available in the final!).
I would love to post a photo or two from the Bonhams Mens Open but those lovely people at the Jedforest had reserved a table for us in the sponsors tent and we were tucking into a roast dinner as Noir Et Vert crossed the line. There was a large screen so we were able to watch the race while we dined, and I managed to dash out in time to grab a pic of the presentation.
The table in the sponsors tent was a nice touch and very much appreciated by all of my AGA colleagues, lunch was delicious and I’d like to say a very big thank you to Kirsty Brown.
The Restricted race was won by Executive Benefit and trainer Mr Joseph O’ Shea was responsible for my only bet of the day. Joe is a character and will always tell you if he thinks his horses are going to win, it doesn’t always go to plan but it did today, cheers Joe!
After the Mares Maiden I just had time to grab a couple of photos of ‘Scu‘ (eight time champion National Hunt jockey, Peter Scudamore – MBE) and Lucinda Russell (the leading National Hunt trainer north of the border), before my battery died – whoops!
The dead battery and a bout of ‘hat fever’ ensured that I didn’t manage to get any pics of the Open Maiden, not even on my trusty phone (sorry Katie Scott and Tom Hamilton), but I hope this makes up for it.
The tractors were busy at the end of the day and while my car made it out through the mud (just), the AGA van needed the tractor to pull it out before we could all hit the road for the long drive back to the Midlands.
We left the course just after 4.30 and hit the outskirts of Leamington Spa at around 10.30, it was a mammoth drive but we’d had a couple of stops and once we got past Wetherby the miles seemed to fly by! A catch up on the days results from Higham, followed by a flick through the photos with a welcome cup of tea was about all I could manage before I gave up and shut my eyes (although I did manage a couple of Snapchats).
One last thing before I sign off for this week, a journey of that length wouldn’t be possible without some decent music to listen to, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for the latest edition of the AGA man’s playlist. See you at Black Forest Lodge on Sunday!