Phenomenal mare Dabinett Moon gave rider Claire Hardwick the perfect birthday present on Saturday.
Dabinett Moon returned to her best to win the William Powell Ladies Open in Saturday’s North Warwickshire Hunt Point-to-Point meeting at Mollington.
The prolific 11-year-old mastered a competitive field to register an 18th career success which, all bar one, have been under her regular pilot. Hardwick pinched the inside from favourite Diamond King turning for home and never looked back, with the former Cheltenham Festival winner unable to make an impression on the likeable winner.
She is owned and trained at Chipping Norton by Chris and Fran Marriott. A jubiliant Fran said: “We thought she’d be third at best in what looked a very hot race. Claire [Hardwick] knows her so well and it’s great for her after the disaster at Siddington.
“She had a wind operation in November and it took a couple of races to get her confidence back but she looked as good as ever. She is simply amazing.”
The Midnight Legend mare, winning for the third time at this meeting, may go to stud at the end of the season.
Jockeyship also played a key part in the outcome of the Hatton Arms Mens Open as Ardkilly Witness – returning from an unseat at the Cheltenham Festival – repelled the challenge of odds-on favourite Cousin Pete.
Gaining the inside on the final bend again proved decisive, with Will Thirby driving out the 13-year-old to score by a neck.
Tom Ellis and Gina Andrews – who lead the National Point-to-Point Trainer and Rider Championships respectively – combined to land the well-contested NFU Mutual Conditions with Celtic Silver.
Andrews produced the grey son of Shirocco to jump ahead at the last and execute the trainer’s long-term plan.
But Ellis suffered an unexpected reversal in the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate with Brafield scorer King of The Clothe having no answers for progressive six-year-old Smoke Man.
The Helen Connors-trained gelding, now three from three wearing cheek pieces, is ever-growing in confidence and ability – evident from some spectacular leaps throughout his front-running victory.
Ledbury handler Martin Wilesmith saddled the ten-year-old Midnight Frensi (Dave Mansell) to win the Lodders Solicitors Maiden.
Fred Henderson guided Order In Court, trained by his father James, to win the JLD Driver Training Restricted.