ESSEX FARMERS & UNION, MARKS TEY, MONDAY APRIL 17

Going firm

Report

Lucy Franks brought to an end a frustrating run of second places to notch a hard-earned first winner in the PPORA Novice Riders Race at the Essex Farmers and Union Point-To-Point at Marks Tey on Monday.

Sure Future has run four times, filling the bridesmaid's berth on three occasions, since being bought by Franks's father, George, from Sutton near Woodbridge.

But this time everything fell into place as Sure Future, who is trained near King's Lynn by April Gingell, was delivered to challenge at the penultimate obstacle and stayed on strongly to score by two lengths.

Franks, 26, who was brought up in Suffolk but now lives in London where she works for Merrill Lynch, was rendered almost speechless with happiness afterwards. On recovering her composure she revealed:  Sure Future is a nightmare ride at home and jumps around all over the place. He's not nasty, he's just quite a quirky character.

Fast ground meant that only 22 runners contested the six races and, sadly for the large crowd, the Men's Open resulted in a walkover for the James Owen-partnered Dunrig, who was giving trainer Joe Turner, from Ampton near Bury St Edmunds, his ninth winner in the past four weekends.

Dunrig was not allowed to rest on his laurels, as he turned out again less than two hours later to finish second behind Sure Future, this time partnered by Kelly Smith, who shares a house with Owen in Newmarket.

One horse that did enjoy two victories on the card is the George Cooper-owned broodmare, Busters Sister, as she was responsible for both the Maiden Race winner, Iceni Ruler, and the Confined Race hero, Monarch Ruler, to complete a very rare family double.

Both are trained at Raydon, near Hadleigh, by Robert Cundy, and were ridden by Wymondham's Rupert Stearn, who, in landing his first ever brace, moved alongside David Kemp on the 11-winner mark at the top of the East Anglian Jockeys' Championship.

Monarch Ruler was much the faster of the pair in gaining his third course victory of the campaign, and his fourth in total. But Cooper feels that Iceni Ruler, who had lost a good pull on her girths since running at Cottenham' may prove to be just as good as her brother in the long term.

Cooper was also quick to berate his fellow owners who had chosen not to risk their horses on the firm ground. The course is in as good a condition as it has been at this stage of the season for many years, he asserted. It's level, and this old turf has such a good root structure that it will always have some juice in it.

The other two races went to galloping companions from Kent. Funny Money, trained near Sevenoaks by Helen Sarchet and ridden by her son, James, was ten lengths too good for Pampered Lad in the Restricted Race.

And the Ladies' Open went to owner-trainer-rider Julie Wickens, from Lingfield, after her mount, Storm Castle, got the better of a good battle with Spring Gale and Castle Arrow.

Results

Race One (Open Maiden Race):

1 Mrs F A Cooper's Iceni Ruler (Essex Farmers and Union) (R Stearn),

2 Mr Robert Barr's Moss Campian (Easton Harriers) (Miss R Page).

Also: Homeleigh Meadow (pu), Have Some Fun (f). A distance. 7.01. W £1.40. DF £1.20. SP 2-5 fav.

Race Two (Restricted Race):

1 Mr James and Mrs Helen Sarchet's Funny Money (Old Surrey, Burston and W Kent) (J Sarchet),

2 Mr J Flint's Pampered Lad (Essex) (A Pennock),

3 Mr D L Claydon and Mrs P Twinn's Mai Cure (East Essex) (R Morgan-Evans).

Also: On The Day (4), Skirmishing (ur). Three lengths, 10 lengths. 6.46. W £1.30. DF £3.80. SP 1-2 fav.

Race Three (Men's Open Race):

1 Mr J M Turner's Dunrig (Suffolk) (J Owen). Walked over.

Race Four (Ladies' Open Race):

1 Miss J Wickens' Storm Castle (Kent and Surrey Blood Hounds) (Miss J Wickens),

2 Mr J M Turner's Spring Gale (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),

3 Miss R Williams' Castle Arrow (Chid, Lec and Cowdray) (Miss R Williams).

Also: CLB Jemilla (4). One length, one length. 6.49. W £2. DF £1.10. SP 5-4 (Spring Gale 4-5 fav).

Race Five (Confined Hunts):

1 Mr G I Cooper's Monarch Ruler (Essex Farmers and Union) (R Stearn),

2 Mr Ray Newby's Runningwiththemoon (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Miss K Smith),

3 Mr A G Chinery's Baron Bernard (East Essex) (P Chinery).

Also: John The Mole (4). Twenty lengths, a distance. 6.43. W £1.30. DF £15. SP 1-3 fav.

Race Six (PPORA Novice Riders):

1 Mr George Franks' Sure Future (Cambridge University) (Miss L Franks),

2 Mr J M Turner's Dunrig (Suffolk) (Miss K Smith),

3 Mr D Napier (North Norfolk Harriers) (Miss R Napier).

Also: Sutton Courtenay (4), Novatara (ur). Two lengths, two lengths. 6.49. W £1.10. DF £2.20. SP 4-6 fav.