Over the stable door: Seasonal winners’ roll call as winter is coming

Award winners at the Yorkshire Point to Point dinner: (L-R) Sean Murray, Will Easterby, Emma Todd, Richard Smith, Alice Dawson, Craig Hoggard.
Award winners at the Yorkshire Point to Point dinner: (L-R) Sean Murray, Will Easterby, Emma Todd, Richard Smith, Alice Dawson, Craig Hoggard.
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AS DARKNESS draws her veil earlier each evening, my energy seems to drain away with the daylight. I am tired of waiting to hear from the insurance company before I can replace all the equipment that blew up last month.

My office resembles a car boot sale, piled high with electronic gadgets, none of which work. Life without a washing machine has proved testing, especially whilst there was no hot water - the boiler also blew up but was thankfully fixable. It makes me realise quite how much everything we use is taken for granted.

Fluffy coated thoroughbreds indicate the glowing warmth of summer has faded, leaving us to prepare for the winter with a yard full of energetic horses. Thankfully we’ve started the season by celebrating a few winners already.

My four-year-old hunter has settled well and will be having his first day autumn trailing this week. He arrived from Ireland with half a tail, the rest had been chewed by bullocks who shared his field. He rather resembles an old war horse so we nicknamed him Warrior.

Last week it was the annual Yorkshire Point to Point Awards Dinner at York Racecourse which saw a fresh line up of jockeys taking this year’s top awards. The White Rose Saddlery Ladies Championship went to Emma Todd who beat Alice Dawson, winner of the ladies’ novice title. Champion sheep shearer Alice married fellow jockey John Dawson, in a lovely summer wedding high up above Saltburn, who regularly rides for me when his weight allows it.

The men’s novice title was won by Craig Hoggard who proved his worth when taking over Steph Easterby’s talented string, deputising for an injured Harry Bannister. The Strutt and Parker men’s award was won by William Easterby, son of Malton trainer Tim and last season’s leading horse was the consistent Opera Og owned by Sean Murray who works in Middleham.

Ride of the season was awarded to last year’s champion Richard Smith for his Sheriff Hutton win aboard the quirky ‘Junior’. An hour after the race and Richard was out for the season following a fall which broke his shoulder.

A special award went to Scarborough vet Chris Cundall, 62, who has hang up his boots after 40 years of race riding. His illustrious career includes winning the Kim Muir Chase at the 1981 Cheltenham Festival aboard Waggoners Walk owned by Caroline Mason.

He’s been a great supporter of the sport on every level and has sat alongside generations of jockeys in the changing room. He must be the only jockey I know able to recall every one of his 98 winners in significant detail.

A few days after announcing retirement he admitted to me he was having doubts, saying jokingly: “The only way to receive gratitude is if you die or retire.”

Racing flows strong in the family blood. His daughter Charlotte won her first race by beating Dad at the Sinnington point to point in 2010. A poignant moment for the family as 86 years earlier her great grandmother Jessie Sanderson was the first woman in Yorkshire to win a point to point at the same meeting, then held near Kirkby Misperton.

Maybe this season we can look forward to enjoying Chris’ company on the ground... until he reapplies for his riding licence.