CARTMEL Racecourse’s 2013 season began with two very contrasting days weather-wise on Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday.

Saturday evening’s opening meeting was bathed in sunshine for the most part, but less than 48 hours later that had all disappeared to be replaced by a biting wind and incessant rain.

The weather certainly played its part on crowd sizes, with the turn-out for Saturday’s Vintage Night, when racegoers were encouraged to dress in styles from the 1920’s through to the 1970’s, above average and the attendance in Monday’s miserable weather down.

Not that the rain dampened everyone’s spirits as Irish trainer Mark McNiff and his owners were left singing in the rain after completing the first Cartmel double of the season on Monday.

McNiff kicked off with Binowagh Bay in the Watch Racing UK On Sky 432 Mares Novices Selling Hurdle, who was given a great ride by Derek Fox to land what turned out to be an impressive win.

For much of the race, Binowagh Bay looked likely to finish nearer last than first, but galvanised by Fox, she got into gear from two out and came through strongly to swallow up the favourite Phase Shift half-way up the run-in.

Brendan Flynn and Rory O’Connor, two of the 10 man syndicate from their local pub The Venue near Sligo, made the long trip to watch Celtic Monarch and were not disappointed as the gelding scooted clear to easily win the Halecat Four Years Old Novices Hurdle and complete a double for McNiff and Fox.

Monday was also a big day for the Bannister family from Skipton as owner Nick Bannister, celebrating his 54th birthday, was able to cheer home his horse Fine Parchment in the Totepool Handicap Chase.

And to add an extra gloss to the occasion, the winner was ridden by Nick’s amateur rider son Harry, who was having his first ever winner under rules.

Peter Niven has found it a bit of struggle since swapping his life as a top jumps jockey to become a trainer, but he was on the mark in great style in the featured Burlington Stone Grand Veterans Handicap Chase as Posh Bird, ridden by Jamie Hamilton, got the better of Welsh raider Gullible Gordon.

Feature race of Saturday’s Vintage Night card was the Wave Jewellery Intermediate Handicap Chase, which produced not just one winner, but two.

Solway Dornal, trained at Wigton by Lisa Harrison battled on bravely for jockey Stephen Mulqueen to beat Over And Above and win a stunning necklace, donated by Jo and Paul Henderson of Kendal-based Wave Jewellery as the Ladies Night prize for Phillipa Fox from Ulverston.