Six-time Northern Area point-to-point champion Catherine Walton heads to Chester races tomorrow evening, still buzzing after notching her 50th winner under Rules.
The Northumberland-based rider (pictured above) has quit riding over jumps, both under Rules and on the point-to-point circuit, but a victory on Robot Boy in a Flat race at Ayr on Sunday was as sweet as any she has ridden.
"I had been on 49 a long time and thought I would never get to 50," says Walton, who sets off in pursuit of the next half-century when riding My Amigo for Robot Boy's trainer, Marjorie Fife, in Chester's women riders' handicap which opens the card.
Champion in the Northern Point-to-Point Area from 2011 to 2016, Walton did not ride during the most recent season, her final pointing winner coming in a match at Alnwick in February 2018.
Explaining her decision to swerve future races over jumps, Walton says: "I'm very busy at home [in the village of Wark] with breakers and pre-trainers, and just didn't have time to go schooling and so on – I wasn't enjoying it as much.
"It would have been nice to take the national title once, and on a couple of occasions I was leading or well up there until the end of February, but then we would run out of meetings in the north. The furthest I travelled south was to Yorkshire."
Looking ahead Walton has taken all the training modules that could lead to a license, but says: "I'm enjoying pre-training so much, and it's probably less hassle than training. Rural Northumberland is probably not the place that is going to attract big owners with money to spend on horses."
Walton has not given up all association with point-to-pointers, and trained two horses – Al Le Gone and Wicked Spice – last season, gaining a few places with each horse.