Girl power won the day at the Meynell and South Staffordshire meeting at Garthorpe, as female riders won the majority of the races at the last Midlands Area meeting of this season.
There was some success for the boys, including in the feature race of the day, the Mixed Open, which produced an impressive display from Midnight King and jockey Will Thirlby, who had won the Sheldon Bosley Knight Open Hunter Chase at Stratford on Downbythestrand the previous evening.
Nearly all the running had been made by favourite Big Man Doe (Gina Andrews) but despite not winning since May last year the thirteen-year-old Midnight King timed his run for the finish to perfection and pulled away on the run-in to win by seven lengths. Thirlby, 19, who started a new job for Alan King in the week, said: "It's my first ride on the horse but it all went to plan. He jumped brilliantly." When asked about his aspirations, he added: "Pointing has given me opportunities I wouldn't have as a conditional jockey so I have no plans to change my status. If I was ever offered rides for Mr King that would be amazing, but I have no plans to stop pointing."
The opening race of the day, the PPORA Club Members' Conditions Race, was won by Amy Cox and Beggar's Velvet in one of the fastest times of the day. Amy, who runs a busy wedding venue, has been receiving help from great friends Francesca Nimmo and Charlie Poste for the last fortnight and has reaped the benefits, with two victories only a week apart.
Hott Lips and Lucy Turner took the Intermediate, proving that this mare can stay three miles in style. Wins on two previous outings at 2m 4f proved to be no real indicator as the seven-year-old finished well. "She's a lovely mare, if a bit feisty," Lucy said, "and I thought we might have hit the front a bit soon, but she was still full of running."
The Novice Riders' Race was led for most of the contest by the Alan Hill-trained The Gunner Brady (Charlie Case) until two out when a well-timed run by ex-hunter/chaser Accord and Justin Brotherton brought them into an unassailable lead, winning by 11 lengths at the flags. The jockey stated that the transition from Rules to points has not been straightforward, saying: "He's slowly getting his confidence back, and this is the results of a change in training methods!"
Tom Strawson notched up his 50th career win in the Open Maiden, riding John B's to victory by four lengths from On Parole in second with favourite Catwalk Frank in third. It was nearly very different, though, after John B's stumbled on landing at the last and very nearly ditched the jockey. "We are working on getting the jumping more confident", said Strawson.
The loudest cheer of the day came when local jockey Sophie Walker brought First Class Ticket into the winner's enclosure after victory in the Restricted. The horse was purchased by the Walker family last summer and has quickly become the character of the yard. Signed And Sealed (Jack Andrews) and Charles Brown (Tom Strawson) completed the frame.
The last winner of the 2019 Midlands season was Breezy Kin, piloted to victory in the Conditions Race by Lucinda Ticehurst. A clearly thrilled Lucinda, who as well as being jockey is groom, vet, physio and trainer to this horse, said that plans are made for a trip to Umberleigh to end the season.
The day had begun with two well-supported pony races after the young jockeys were treated to a course walk and guidance from professional jockey coach Mark Bradburne.
The 138cm race was won by twelve-year-old Arthur Myddelton and his pony Jazz, with Sarah Longthorn and Styalways Solitaire second, and Katie Bradburne third with Merryment Top Cat.
The 148cm race went to Harvey Poole and Cudlic Verona, with Pick Pocket (Jess Samuel Stewart) and Archie Bailey (Beside The Sea) third.