JOCKEY Rowan Scott and trainer Kevin Ryan took the honours with doubles as Redcar kicked off its 2023 season with an eight-race Easter Monday card.

Scott struck first when Impressor, trained at Leyburn by Phillip Makin, just got the better of the Rebecca Menzies-trained Rajmeister by a nose in division two of the Tony Dyson Memorial Handicap.

It was the second winner in two days for owners John Toes and John O’Loan who teamed up with the Scott-Makin combination on Good Friday to win with Na Scoitear at Southwell.

Makin said after Impressor’s win: “I wasn’t sure if he’d got it but it’s great for the owners to win twice in two days. They are good men and very supportive of the yard. The horse likes the ground, so we were quite hopeful.”

The owners are going for a quick-fire hat-trick on Friday, this time over fences with the Peter Winks-trained Lough Salt in a chase at Sedgefield.

Scott secured his double when The Cookstown Cafu – nickname of Leeds United footballer Stuart Dallas – stayed on stoutly to win the Flat Is Back on Racing TV Handicap. The gelding’s half a length victory over David O’Meara’s Darkness was the first leg of Kevin Ryan’s double.

“He’s got a lovely, big, long stride and he enjoyed the ground. He’s a nice horse going forward and he’ll, hopefully, land a decent prize,” Scott told Racing TV.

Ryan, who trains near Thirsk, followed up when Camacho Star and Tom Eaves held off a determined challenge from the favourite, Edmund Ironside, in the Woodsmith Construction Handicap.

“He had a nice draw on the far side, and it helped that he had a run a few weeks ago at Newcastle. He’s a horse we can have a bit of fun with,” he said.

Ruth Carr has her horses in fine fettle from her base at Stillington, near York, and her winning tally for 2023 went up to 12 when Twelfth Knight kept on strongly in the final furlong to bag The Market Cross Jewellers Handicap under James Sullivan.

The gelding was having his first run for his new yard after being bought out of the Archie Watson stable at the Horses In Training Sale at Newmarket in October.

Owner Nikki Padgett, a former amateur jockey, said: “Twelfth Night was supposed to run at Doncaster last weekend, but the ground was too bad. Ruth had him ready to run and was more confident than we were.”

Twelfth Night’s late surge denied a return to the winner’s enclosure for former Ayr Gold Cup winner, Bielsa, also trained by Kevin Ryan.

Redcar’s first race of 2023 went to Newmarket when favourite Freedom Day (pictured below) – trained by John and Thady Gosden and confidently ridden by Robert Havlin – got the better of Richard Fahey’s Old Smoke in the Welcome Back To Redcar Racecourse Novice Stakes. Old Smoke stayed on well despite being short of room a furlong out.

The Northern Echo:

Katie Scott, who trains on the Scottish borders, was landing her third winner in as many days when Slainte Mhath – Gaelic for ‘Good Health’ – justified favouritism in division one of the Tony Dyson Memorial Handicap under Phil Dennis.

The trainer said: “She was hampered on her last two runs, but we knew she was in good form and loves the soft.”

Neil Mechie, who was Mark Johnston’s vet for eight years before taking out a licence, had a 22-1 winner with Gold Ring in the marathon Better Value With Racecourse Bookmakers Handicap over one mile eight furlongs.

Mechie still works as a vet while his wife, Lucy, runs their small yard at Middleham during the day.

He said after Andrew Breslin had steered Gold Ring to a narrow victory over Tarbat Ness: “It’s absolutely fantastic. He won on soft ground first time out last season.

“We were very disappointed with his run at Newcastle last time, but we don’t think he liked the all-weather. He likes attritional ground, and he might go hurdling.”

Another member of the Middleham brigade, Ben Haslam, said he was left scratching his head after Purple Martini’s run at Redcar in November when she was expected to win but finished fourth.

However, the daughter of Mayson made amends by quickening clear in the concluding Watch Race Replays At Racing Handicap under Graham Lee.

Haslam said: “I thought we were taking a chance dropping back to six furlongs, but she’s been working well at home with horses with a bit of speed. I think she’ll get further in time. Hopefully, she can progress and win a couple more.”