Nearly 70 runners lined up at Garthorpe on Saturday for the traditional Cottesmore point-to-point season opener.
Good ground helped produce competitive times as the seven-race card produced a double for Gina Andrews and trainer Tom Ellis, with owners Trevor and Mary Bourne involved with both winners.
The first came in the opener, a conditions race with 12 starters. Will Thirlby and Bertie’s Desire made the early running, sharing the lead with Sophie Walker and Merrydown Black.
But Andrews had judged a perfect race and Samarnni pulled away in the final stages to record his third Garthorpe win by about four lengths from Burtredgipandgump (Archie Wright) and Bertie’s Desire (Will Thirlby) in a close finish for second and third.
The other half of the Andrews/Ellis double was the last race, the Open Maiden.
The maximum 18 runners came to post and the early running was shared between James Henderson’s Order In Court (Fred Henderson) and Andrews aboard General Arrow. A good showing by Charles Dixey’s Gerald Bailey-trained The Triple Pillar made it interesting, but General Arrow ran out to win by three lengths.
The Ladies’ Open race saw an impressive display by seasoned Coronation Cup winner Brackloon High, ridden here by novice jockey Jennifer Harbison.
The 14-year-old finished strongly to win by 14 lengths and deny Andrews a treble.
She was second on ante-post favourite Can Mestret, while Claire Hardwick and Midnight King were third.
The Men’s Open was taken by top-rated Cousin Pete, trained by Dibby Brown and ridden by Nick Phillips.
An interesting race saw the lead taken by Abricot De L’Oasis (Fred Henderson) for much of it, with Facile Bien (Sam Waley-Cohen), Bayley’s Dream (Dale Peters) and the winner waiting in the wings.
Cousin Pete’s class showed as he pulled away in the final run-in to record a 10-length victory for Nick’s mother Scilla, with Bayley’s Dream second and Facile Bien in third.
The Novice Riders’ race saw a battle of the Harrys, with Harry Arkwright and Susquehanna River getting the better of Harry Thorpe-Codman and Dido in the run-in. Favourites Jennifer Harbison and Storm Lantern were a little way behind.
The Restricted Race spoils went to favourite HadMeAtHello and Dale Peters, following up on their excellent victory at the Midlands Club meeting at Thorpe Lodge in January.
It was a very close finish from the David Kemp-trained Law Of Gold, ridden by Archie Wright, with the distance recorded as a neck.
There was a popular local victory in the Conditions race for horses of nine years and over for Minella Friend and Belvoir regular George Chatterton, riding for his grandfather Mike.
It completed a trio of wins for this combination, in their first season together.
Racing returns to Garthorpe on Sunday, March 24, for the Belvoir meeting. E-tickets, at the reduced price of £13, are on sale.