Jockey John Dawson defied a broken stirrup to score a four-timer and take the Yorkshire area men’s championship title in a remarkable display of horsemanship at the Haydon point-to-point at Hexham on Saturday (14 May).
John was riding the Cherry Coward-trained grey El Tornado in the 2m4f maiden, for owners Cassy and Daniel Bell, and Kimberley Mawdesley and Alex Mawdesley, when the plastic “iron” cracked with a circuit to go.
“It broke before five out and it was a bit of a decision of whether to carry on or not,” said John. “I thought it was now or never for the horse in that race. It was the perfect race for him and everything was going smoothly to that point. I jumped two with one stirrup and then I got to three out and I kicked the other out as I decided I was probably better off having none than one.
“He hasn’t been the most fluent of jumpers, if I’d had to pick one on the day for that not to happen on, it would have been him. But he was good and got me home safe!”
Jacqueline Coward, watching, couldn’t work out what had happened: “I was thinking ‘what is John doing? Maybe the horse is hanging or jumping funny?’”
He crossed the line and explained what had happened.
“John is such a horseman,” Jacqueline added.
His win was followed up with two more for the Cowards, taking the restricted with the perhaps aptly named Ridelonglivelong and the maiden conditions on Red Opium.
“The two maiden winners were knocking on the door. They have been running well, so it was about time they won,” said Jacqueline.
“Ridelonglivelong won the weekend before at Charm Park, so he doubled up,” said Jacqueline. “He is a bit of a strange horse, we call him Weird Ian at home. But he was fantastic and was really professional. He has lots of ability, he just likes to see everything – if he has seen something once, he gets it.”
She added that he has come on “a hell of a lot” in a week.
“He does like fast ground, that makes a huge difference. Long-term family friend Chris Richardson owns part of him and I was so pleased for him,” she said. “He is a joint-master of our local hunt and a gentleman who puts so much into the sport.”
The homebred Red Opium, owned by breeder Susan Mason, completed the Coward hat-trick.
“She’s had three seconds and was really knocking on the door. She’s the daughter of Poppy Day, who won the Grimthorpe Gold Cup with my cousin Joanna Mason,” said Jacqueline.
Black Op, a Grade One winner over hurdles in his career under Rules, took John’s tally to four with a 25-length win in the men’s open for owner Charles Clark and trainer Emma Clark.
“Black Op was the steering job of the lot winning the open. It was nice to get a good confidence-boosting run into him, after coming from under Rules,” said John.
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