PUCKERIDGE, HORSEHEATH, SATURDAY MARCH 29 GOING: FIRM
Photographs kindly provided by Richard Weller-Poley
Catherine Featherstone, James Owen and the Turner family all had a day to remember at a Puckeridge Point-To-Point meeting marred by firm ground at Horseheath on Saturday.
Only 17 runners competed in the six races - which included two walkovers - as the unseasonal dry spell, coupled with the course's lack of watering facilities, meant that the surface was too hard for the liking of most owners and trainers.
It was a very disappointing equine turnout given the massive human attendance. Yet it was not unprecedented - as recently as 1997 just 15 horses took part in this fixture and one of those, Salmon Mead, won twice including a walkover!
The action began with a match for the Members' Race and the outsider of the pair, Ballad, jumped to the front at the last to beat Rupert's Choice by a length and a half.
This was a first victory on only her third ride for Catherine Featherstone, 28, from Brent Pelham. Her goal beforehand was simply to complete the course for the first time, but she ended up outdoing her husband, David (Ballad's trainer), who has yet to win this race as a jockey.
The rest of the day belonged entirely to the Turner family, from Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds, as they won all five other races, albeit in two cases without actually having to beat a single rival.
One of the walkovers was accredited to their Marlborough-based stable jockey, James Owen, who went on to complete a first ever four-timer courtesy of Bruan (in the Intermediate Race), Westfield John (Restricted) and Fine And Dandy (Maiden).
The Turner operation incorporates three generations of the family as the horses are all owned by Joe Turner but the training duties largely fall on his son, David, and granddaughter, Zoe.
Joe has now notched over 1100 victories during his remarkable lifetime in racing and has enjoyed a five-timer once before, in March 1975.
In some ways Saturday's achievement could be regarded as the first ever six-timer for the family as Fair Exchange, trained and owned by Joe's daughter, Josie Sheppard, did not fulfil his entry in the Puckeridge Men's Open, instead venturing to Lincolnshire to land a Novice Hunter Chase at Market Rasen.
To end on a positive note, there were no injuries to horses despite the firm conditions and Nigel Bloom, who took a nasty blow to the head in a tumble from Gawngaddin in the Intermediate Race, was able to return home on Saturday evening after extensive checks at Addenbrokes Hospital revealed nothing sinister.
Race One (Members Race):
1 Mrs E Featherstone's Ballad (Puckeridge) (Mrs C Featherstone),
2 Hill and C Sporborg's Rupert's Choice (Puckeridge) (A Braithwaite).
Distance: 1½l. 6m 26s. W £2.30. SP 7/4 (Rupert's Choice 2/5 favourite).
Race Two (Intermediate Race):
1 J M Turner's Bruan (Suffolk) (J Owen),
2 Ms C Eagle's Monsukh (East Essex) (A Coe).
Also Gawngaddin (ur), Society Lad (ur). Distance: 10l. 6m 32s. W £2.50. DF£6.00. SP 7/4 favourite.
Race Three (Ladies Open Race):
1 J M Turner's The Wiley Kalmuck (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner). Walkover.
Race Four: (Men's Open Race):
1 J M Turner's Corston Joker (Suffolk) (J Owen). Walkover.
Race Five: (Restricted Race):
1 J M Turner's Westfield John (Suffolk) (J Owen),
2 Mrs R Page's The Burglar (East Essex) (K Sheppard),
3 M Ward and G Wedd's Lone Star (Granta) (Miss F Hatfield).
Also: River Gala (4th)). Distances: 10l, 3l. 6m 38s. W £1.20. DF £1.20. SP 1/3 favourite.
Race Six: (Open Maiden Race):
1 J M Turner's Fine and Dandy (Suffolk) (J Owen),
2 Mrs Ayres' Midnight Dynamite (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (N Moore),
3 Mrs P King's Crown Rule (Suffolk) (R H Fowler).
Also: Just Lute (4th), Bright Torino (5th). Distances: 15l, 5l. 6m 32s. Win £1.50. DF £13.50. SP 1/3 favourite.