Over the stable door: Special victory as riders roll with the punches
Chris Dawson steered, kicked and prayed Kilmacallogue Bay to an emotional victory in the Restricted race. The sight of Chris pointing to the heavens as he passed the winning line had even the toughest farmers dabbing their dampened eyes. He was, after all, aboard the same horse that gave Simon his greatest racing moment when winning at the course a year ago.
An event to highlight the sport’s extremities came this week for Yorkshire jockey, Harry Bannister. The country’s leading amateur jockey has been working hard to retain his title before the amateur season ends at Stratford in three weeks. Harry enjoyed a winner at the Perth festival before heading to the Berkeley point to point in Worcestershire at the weekend where he finished second. As the horses pulled up after the line the winner cannoned into Harry’s mount, knocking them to the floor. As his horse staggered to its feet it hit Harry in the face leaving him with two black eyes and a smashed cheek. Undeterred, Harry’s main concern was keeping his winning tally, standing at 13 wins so far this season, above that of his nearest rival Ciaran Gethings who is on 10.
After escaping a standing down by the doctor, he headed to the Hunter Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday sporting a battered face and rode once on Major Malarkey, the favourite trained by Nicky Henderson.
Harry’s impeded vision did little to affect his ability and the favourite eventually obliged to the jockey’s urgings to win in a cut throat battle to the line, collecting the Yorkshire jockey a riding ban for over use of the whip.
The day of the Pendle point to point has finally arrived after weeks of hard work. It looks set to be a highly competitive day’s racing with some of the country’s top point to point horses entered in the feature race, the Ladies Open, offering £1,000 in prize money.
My father has a few entered to run and we are letting the fondly fractious Jesus (Cara Court) have a pop round the Charity Challenge Ride at the end of the day to act as a sweetener before he heads to Sedgefield on Tuesday where I have five entries. It looks set to be a busy day.
I am writing this whilst sat at the top of the Skipton track, staring at my favourite fence. A huge inviting one on top of the hill. On the approach all the jockey can see are distant hills at the other end of the valley. It is like jumping in to the abyss. If there was ever a time I wished desperately to be back racing again it is here. Now. The driven emotions that once ruled my every waking moment are stirring. The vague recognition of a desperate thirst to win I could never quench. I thought I had shut them deep inside, but stood here I’m not so sure.