FITZWILLIAM, COTTENHAM, SATURDAY MARCH 23
by James Crispe
Dry Highline went a long way to proving himself to be the best point-to-pointer in East Anglia with a powerful front-running performance in the Men's Open Race at the Fitzwilliam fixture at Cottenham on Saturday.
The ten-year-old at last appears to have got his jumping together and he completed the course, where has fallen on all three of his revious visits, without a single serious error. Admittedly, his winning margin, which was officially 'a distance', would have been considerably reduced had not his nearest pursuer, Bowlingher, crumpled on landing at the last.
But Dry Highline was in command at the time and thoughts of aiming him at Hunter Chases, possibly starting at Fakenham on Easter Monday, are fully justified. Trained at Glemsford by Ruth Hayter, he was a chance ride for Stuart Morris as his regular pilot, Christian Ward-Thomas, was at home awaiting the imminent arrival of his first child.
Morris said: "It's hard to tell just good he is. I didn't think that we were going very quickly out in front but he is a big horse and covers so much ground without apparent effort."
Hayter was quick to praise Ward-Thomas, who has done so much work helping to straighten out Dry Highline's errant jumping. She also admitted that he is so fast that she has nothing to work with him at home and so may only now, after three starts, be approaching peak fitness.
This was Hayter's second easy win of the day, Village Copper having earlier trounced his nine rivals in the Confined Race. On this occasion Nigel Bloom was the one to benefit from Ward-Thomas' absence as Village Copper bounced off the good ground as he came home a distance clear of Monyman.
There were hopes of a Hayter treble when Brookfield Bass made his debut in the first of two divisions of the Maiden Race. But her fortunes, and especially those of Morris, took a significant turn for the worse as Brookfield Bass jumped violently left at the first fence, unshipping his jockey.
Morris was left nursing a nasty cut to the bridge of his nose and contemplating the thought of spending the evening of his 24th birthday in the Casualty Department of Addenbrokes Hospital.
Amy Stennett had spent five years trying before finally partnering her first winner at Higham a week earlier. But she had to wait only a week to double her career tally as she guided Imperial Dawn to a three length victory in the Ladies' Open Race.
Trained in Northamptonshire by Caroline Bailey but owned in partnership by Pat Rowe, from Clavering, and Colin Bazley, from Saffron Walden, this was Imperial Dawn's fourth win of the season - for four different jockeys! Stennett, from Thelnetham, near Diss, is the first East Anglian among the quartet and this display may have won her the ride for the rest of the campaign.
Sussex raiders took two of the seven races, the Di Grissell-trained Shuil Daingean proving two lengths too strong for Lovelock in the Members' Race and Daydreamer, who is trained at Rye by Sara Hickman and ridden by her husband, Andrew, quickening three lengths clear of Find Me Another in the Restricted Race.
The application of a tongue strap (a device used to aid a horse's breathing) was the key to both Maiden races as each winner was wearing one for the first time. The tightest finish of the day came in division one as Crackrattle, trained near Market Harborough by Ninga Pollock and ridden by Tim Lane, held off the late lunge of Barbed Broach by a head.
And the finale went the way of the Andrew Sansome-ridden Helmsley Flier. Trained in Northamptonshire by Jenny Garley, he passed the post five lengths in front of the fast-finishing Light The Sky.
Race One (Hunt Race):
1 T Marks' Shuil Daingean (Fitzwilliam) (P Hall),
2 W Stone's Lovelock (Fitzwilliam) (owner),
3 M Grange's Leap Frog (Fitzwilliam) (owner).
Also: Duke Of Tulla (pu), Gerej (f), Harkness Warrior (ur), Marbank Lad (ur). Two lengths, three lengths. 6m 24s. W £5.50. DF £3.40. SP 3-1 (Lovelock 6-4 fav).
Race Two (Confined Race):
1 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson's Village Copper (Suffolk) (N Bloom),
2 J M Turner's Monyman (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
3 The Jasper Partnership's Lord Knox (Cambridge University Draghounds) (A Braithwaite).
Also: Verulam (4), Tukano (5), Doctor Dunklin (6), Spuffington (7), Ballad (pu), Endeavour (ur), Jimmy Dan (pu). A distance, 10 lengths. 6m 12s. W £1.90. DF £30.50. SP 2-1 (Endeavour 6-4 fav).
Race Three (Men's Open Race):
1 Mrs C Villar's Dry Highline (Suffolk) (S Morris),
2 A W Merriam's Cormeen Lord (Easton Harriers) (Alexander Merriam),
3 The Cherry Tree Partnership's Kentish Bard (North Norfolk Harriers) (R Morgan-Evans).
Also: Aerion (pu), Bauble (pu), Bowlingher (f), Drumlin (pu), Lifebuoy (ur), Sean's Minstrel (pu), The Auctioneer (pu). A distance, Three lengths. 6m 08s. W £3.90. DF £7.20. SP 11-10 fav.
Race Four (Ladies' Open Race):
1 Mrs P Rowe and C Bazley's Imperial Dawn (Pytchley) (Amy Stennett),
2 J M Turner's Celtic Duke (Suffolk) (Zoe Turner),
3 Mrs P Twinn and D Claydon's Mai Point (East Essex) (Mrs C Feek).
Also: Jymjam Johnny (4), Borrow Mine (5), Mill O' The Rags (6), Castle Road (7), Ballyea Boy (8), Alfredo Garcia (9), The Secret Grey (10), Blayneys Privilege (11), Uron V (12), Parson Humfrywebber (ur). Three lengths, half a length. 6m12s. W £1.70. DF £2. SP 4-6 fav.
Race Five (Restricted Race):
1 The Guy Fawkes Partnership's Daydreamer (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (A Hickman),
2 C Dixey's Find Me Another (Meynell and South Staffs) (R Cope),
3 S Garrott's River Bailiff (OSB and WK) (Miss J Grant).
Also: Silver Spider (4), Royal Way (5), Claras Pride (6), Campbell Hill (7), Imperial Mist (8), Mezzo Princess (9), Balla D'Aire (pu), Buckaholic (ur), Catabolic (f), Shirley's Time (c/o), Tod's Brother (pu). Three lengths, four lengths. 6m11s. W £2.30. DF £18.90. SP 9-4 fav.
Race Six (Open Maiden Race - Division One):
1 Mrs N Pollock and L Stilwell's Crackrattle (Fernie) (T Lane),
2 N Padfield's Barbed Broach (Cambs and Enfield Chace) (N Bloom),
3 P Morris' What A Monkey (Albrighton) (owner).
Also: Hobgoblin (4), Give Him A Chance (5), Lucrative Perk (6), Gill's Gale (7), Sire De Brumetz (8), Timothy George (9), Baron Halebop (pu), Brookfield Bass (ur), Double Express (f). Head, two lengths. 6m 21s. W £4.90. DF £7.60. SP 4-1 (Give Him A Chance 7-2 fav).
Race Seven (Open Maiden Race - Division Two):
1 Miss J Garley's Helmsley Flier (Pytchley) (A Sansome),
2 Miss E Downer's Light The Sky (Quorn) (owner),
3 A Moss's Cardinal Way (Suffolk) (R H Fowler).
Also: Space Molly (4), David Bruce (5), Bannagh Express (6), A Fine Story (pu), Camden Loch (f), Master Page (pu), Professor Tag (ur), Sydney Hobart (f), Worthy Memories (pu). Five lengths, five lengths. 6m 25s. W £6.70. DF £24.40. SP 8-1 (Sydney Hobart 4-5 fav).