19 June 2013 Northern Area Review
by Peter Burgon
The 2013 Northern Area season managed to escape the worst of the prolonged cold spell, resulting in the abandonment of only two of the scheduled 18 fixtures, the Ratcheugh Racing Club and Fife cards which ironically were victims of drainage problems.
The 16 surviving Northern area meetings attracted a total of 1,628 entries and 856 runners, the lowest figures since the 1990 campaign, with a healthy average of 7.57 per race.
Few jockeys can match the dedication of Tristan Davidson, who is up at 3:30am six days a week delivering milk and newspapers in the villages around Irthington near Brampton before returning home to start work on his sheep farm. He landed the Men's Championship for the fourth year in a row after partnering 13 winners, all trained by Victor Thompson, and finished 40 points ahead of Nick Orpwood, with Callum Bewley, who is attached to Sue Smith's Bingley yard, in third.
Davidson is now only two winners short of his 100th career success between the flags. He has a big day next week (June 29) when he marries long term partner, Emma Ritchie in Cumbria.
Despite riding only one winner at the last nine meetings, Catherine Walton carried off the Ladies Championship for the third year in a row. She finished nine points ahead of Joanna Walton, with Amie Waugh in third. Joanna ended her season on a high with a first winner under Rules on Molten Brown at Cartmel on May 27.
Insurance broker, Andrea Taylor landed the Area Novice Riders Championship. Ex-chaser, Sotovik provided her with 80% of her tally of 20 points, with three wins and two second places from six starts between the flags. Holly Harper finished runner-up on 12 points, with Ross Chapman in third. 19 year old Harper, who works for Chatton trainer, Rose Dobbin, lifted the coveted Princess Royal trophy as the country's leading under 21 female novice rider with three wins from four rides in her debut season.
Victor Thompson's stable star, Tommysteel was a worthy winner of the £500 prize awarded to the Area Champion Horse and sponsored by George F.White. The gelding won six of his nine pointing starts and it is worth noting that Palypso De Creek was the only horse in the country to win more races.
The Percy (104 points) retained the John Swan Ltd Hunt Awards by a single point from the Fife, while the Area Novice Horse Championship, sponsored by the aforementioned Victor Thompson, went to former selling hurdler, Raifteiri. Willie Young's charge was a model of consistency with one win at Crossford and five second places from seven outings.
Thompson was the leading trainer for the fourth year in a row. His Newton-by-the-Sea yard sent out a record-breaking 15 winners from mid-February with another 33 of his runners placed.
Ferryhill amateur, Richard Smith, grandson of legendary Grand National winning trainer, Denys Smith, enjoyed his best ever season with 19 winners to land the Yorkshire Area Men's Championship for the first time, while six-times Area Ladies Champion, Jacqueline Coward (25 winners) also became the first jockey from the North since Mabel Forrest in 1973 to win the National Ladies title.
Hunt racing enthusiasts can now enjoy a six month break before it all starts again at Alnwick in mid-December.