The Cambridgeshire Hunt at Horseheath, Saturday February 3
by JAMES CRISPE
Horseheath’s best race saw Fandango de Chassy prove that stamina is his forte, slogging through the mud to claim the notable scalps of Hatcham Boy and Copper Thistle in the Greene King Men’s Open Race. Given an attacking ride by his Whepstead trainer, Neil King, Fandango de Chassy went to the front fully a mile from home and kept galloping all the way up the final hill to beat Hatcham Boy by eight lengths. Hatcham Boy had finished 15 lengths in front of him at Cottenham four weeks earlier but King explained: "Fandango made two or three mistakes that day and this is much more his course as he is a real stayer."
A first winner for owner John Hays, from Stradishall, Fandango de Chassy may have another start between the flags before going Hunter Chasing. George Cooper needed all his many years of experience to survive some hairy moments in the closing stages and land the older horse Maiden aboard Mossy Buck. An eight-year-old who had only seen a racecourse once before, Mossy Buck seemed to have the contest wrapped up until a slow jump at the last brought him to a standstill. He then had to negotiate a loose dog, but Cooper did not panic and his mount regained enough momentum to hold off Weaver’s Choice by two lengths. Like Endeavour, a winner at Higham three weeks earlier, Mossy Buck is owned by Nobby Clark, from Tiptree, and is trained in partnership by Cooper and Cherie Cunningham at Raydon, near Hadleigh.
Fair Exchange continued his relentless ascent through the ranks with a seventh career victory in the Confined Race. Owned and trained at Ashwell, near Royston, by Josie and Gurney Sheppard, the odds-on favourite proved five lengths too strong for Tarthooth. The rest of the meeting was dominated by two trainers - Feargal O’Brien, from Naunton in Gloucestershire, and Caroline Bailey, from Spratton, near Northampton. O’Brien notched his first ever double ("it was the first time I had even saddled two runners on the same card" he admitted) when the half-brothers Look In The Mirror and Grumpy Stumpy won the Ladies’ Open and young horse Maiden respectively. The pair were both bred by the National Hunt trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, for whom O’Brien acts as head lad. Mrs Bailey is much more accustomed to doubles, and she got off the mark for the year through two horses ridden by Rowan Cope - Noughtosixty in the PPORA Members’ Race and Contingency in the Restricted. Contingency is owned by Joan Hill, from Swardeston, near Norwich, and her daughter, Claire.
Race One (Confined Hunts Race):
1 Mrs M G Sheppard's Fair Exchange (Cambridgeshire Foxhounds) (P Taiano),
2 W J Tolhurst's Tarthooth (Essex and Suffolk) (C Ward-Thomas),
3 H B Hodge's Sense of Adventure (Puckeridge) (W Wales);
also Bramblehill Buck (4), Mister Blake (5), Corston Joker (pu), El Rubio (pu), More Fun (ur), Wrekengale (pu). Five lengths, a head. 7m 00s W£1.70. DF £3.30. SP 4-7fav.
Race Two (Point-to-point Owner's and Rider's Association Club Race):
1 Mrs F Reynolds, Mrs C Gibbs and Mrs L Arkwright's Noughtosixty (Pytchley) (RCope),
2 Sir C Keswick and C H Sporborg's Secret Streams (Puckeridge) (S Sporborg),
3 M J Parr's Inch Fountain (North Shropshire) (A Crow);
alsoDerryair (4), Basincroft (f), Blazing Times (pu), Court Thyne (ur), Glencoy (pu), Mr Maggett (pu), Newtown Rosie (pu), Novatara (pu), Romany Chat (pu). Three lengths, a head. 6m 54s W £3.80. DF £5.90. SP 11-4fav.
Race Three (Men's Open Race):
1 C Hays' Fandango De Chassy (Thurlow) (NKing),
2 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson's Hatcham Boy (Suffolk) (CWard-Thomas),
3 R Hunnisett's Copper Thistle (Quorn) (Owner);
also Freedom Fighter (4), Garrison Friendly (5), Craighardie (pu), Veredarius (pu), Weak Moment (pu). Six lengths, half a length. 6m 54s. W £4.40. DF £9.10. SP 8-1 (Copper Thistle 1-2fav).
Race Four (Ladies' Open Race):
1 C Hammett's Look In The Mirror (Cotswold) (Miss A Nolan) (finished alone);
also Diwali Dancer (ref), Prince of Saints (pu), Weather Wise (pu). 6m 58s. W £1.70. SP 1-2fav.
Race Five (Restricted Race):
1 Miss C Hill and Mrs J Hill's Contingency (Pytchley) (R Cope),
2 R Fielder's Lillooet (Chiddinfold Lelonfiel andCowdray) (C Gordon),
3 H Cook's Labula Boy (SC and Rmas Drag) (D Dunsdon);
also Claret and Blue (4), Dyndun (pu), Hamish (f), McAttack (pu), Mountain Tay (pu), Rio's Lord (pu), Smurf (pu), Will Hill (pu).
Two lengths, onelength. 7m 05s. W £5.90. DF £25.30 (winner with any other). SP 8-1 (Will Hill 6-4fav).
Race Six (Maiden Race - 5, 6 and 7 year olds):
1 W O'Brien's Grumpy Stumpy (Cotswold) (S Joynes),
2 Ms R Gasson's Bob Knows (Farmers Bloodhounds) (A Martin),
3 H D Hill and C H Sporborg's Josh's Choice (Puckeridge) (S Sporborg);
also Branksome (pu), Cardinal Bud (pu), Changing Fashion (pu), Crafty Phantom (pu), Glass Breaker (pu), Play Alone (pu), Professor Tag (pu), Rain Delay (pu), Teeton Priceless (pu), The Flying Dragon (f). A distance, half a length. 7m 06s. W £8.90. DF £55.50. SP 10-1 (Cardinal Bud 5-2fav).
Race Seven (Maiden Race - 8 year olds and over):
1 D W Clark's Mossy Buck (Essex and Suffolk) (G Cooper),
2 Mrs J M Trice's Weaver's Choice (Pytchley) (A Sansome),
3 P Bull, Mrs S Lloyd and E Howes' Larkus Aurelius (Ashford Valley) (P Bull);
also Jack Hackett (4), Another Commanche (pu), Celio Bravo (pu), Cicero's Law (pu), Green Leader (pu), Jambo Bwana (pu), Mighty Monarch (pu), Sixmile River (pu), The Arkle Bar (pu). Two lengths, a distance. 7m 07s W £41.40. DF £9.40 (winner with any other), SP 8-1 (Green Leader 3-1fav).