SUFFOLK, AMPTON, SUNDAY MARCH 11
All photographs kindly provided by Richard Weller-Poley
A large crowd turned out to enjoy the magnificent weather at Ampton on Sunday for the Suffolk Hunt Point-to-Point where they were treated to several exciting finishes. Top honours were shared by jockeys Bridget Andrews and Rupert Stearn who both rode doubles on the card.
In fact Rupert Stearn came within a head of a treble as he was just touched off aboard Sorry Al, trained by his father Simon Stearn who is also clerk of the course at Ampton, by the Turner Family’s Native Bob in the opening Suffolk Hunt Members Race. Ampton racecourse is on the Turner’s land and despite weighing out four pounds overweight Ed Turner drove out Native Bob to a memorable local victory on behalf of his grandfather Joe. Native Bob had finished a well beaten second of just two runners in this contest last year, but has recaptured his best form this season and may head to Marks Tey in two weeks time in an attempt to follow up.
Rupert Stearn has formed a most effective partnership with trainer George Cooper, who is based at Raydon near Hadleigh in Suffolk, and kicked off his double aboard the exciting six year-old homebred mare Midnight Ruler who continued her progress with a smooth success in the Confined Hunts Race. She has now won her last three races and rates as one of the most promising prospects in the area.
The form of Midnight Ruler’s victory at Marks Tey two weeks ago is clearly strong form as the runner-up that day Argentato won the Restricted Race on the Ampton card. Responding to a bold front-running ride from Bridget Andrews, the grey gelding trained by Mike Burman at Ickwell near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire was the second of three consecutive grey winners to make all in the final three races on the card. Argentato will also head to Marks Tey in two weeks.
The trio of gallant grey winners began in the Mens Open, as Coat Of Honour never saw another rival having been rousted to the front from the start by Rupert Stearn. Sporting blinkers for the first time over fences, Coat Of Honour had his three rivals on the stretch from a long way out and odds-on favourite Sigma Digital could never land a blow. This win completed the full set of victories for Coat Of Honour who has now been succesful on the flat, over hurdles and fences, in a hunter chase and now a point-to-point in a magnificent career. He has been trained by Robert Abrey from Wretham in Norfolk since 2008 and was winning for the first time since victorious in the prestigious Queen’s Cup Hunters’ Chase at Fakenham back in April 2009.
Bridget Andrews rode the first of her two winners on the day aboard Emergency Cover in the Ladies Open. The combination followed up their excellent second at Marks Tey two weeks ago, which was the horse’s first run since being recruited from Ireland to Nigel Padfield’s yard in Abridge in Essex. However the result may have been different had Louise Allan not ridden a finish a circuit too early aboard eventual runner-up King Du Berlais. Despite these exertions King Du Berlais continued in the race and only came up a head short at the finish from providing the Turner Family with a double on home turf.
Undoubtedly the biggest cheer of the day came for the final trailblazing grey winner on the card as the long-standing maiden Salsero broke his maiden at the 14th attempt under Newmarket-based Georgie Thorogood in the concluding Open Maiden. The pair have been placed on numerous occasions over the past three seasons and were roared home by the locals as they came home a head in front of Homeleigh Sir and Ben Rivett in a stirring finish. This was a much-deserved first career success for Georgie.
1 Native Bob - Ed Turner 1/2f
2 Sorry Al - Rupert Stearn
3 Our Alderman - Jack Day
Time 6-45 Dists: Hd, 5L 4 ran
1 Midnight Ruler - Rupert Stearn 1/3f
2 Furze Hill - Jack Day
3 The Camerengo - Dale Peters
Time 6-29 Dists: 3L. 1/2L 6 ran
1 Emergency Cover - Bridget Andrews 4/5f
2 King Du Berlais - Louise Allan
3 Teeton Dazzler - Liz Harris
Time 6-23 Dists: Hd, 3/4L 5 ran
1 Coat Of Honour - Rupert Stearn 6/1
2 Sigma Digital - David Kemp 1/3f
3 Kadount - Ed Turner
Time 6-20 Dists: 5L, Dist 4 ran
1 Argentato - Bridget Andrews 5/4f
2 Ted Gunther - Dale Peters
3 Shanina - Ben Rivett
Time 6-23 Dists: 2L, 9L 6 ran
1 Salsero - Georgie Thorogood 5/4f
2 Holmleigh Sir - Ben Rivett
3 Ballymager - Matt Smith
Time 6-33 Dists: Hd, Dist 6 ran
-128 cm & under
1 Glebedale Stopwatch - Lewis Kent 6/4
2 Bureside Autumn Gold - Joe Bradnam
3 Linksbury Leonardo - Benoit De La Sayette
Time 1-09 Dists: Nk, 1L 8 ran Shooting Star 4/6f (5th)
1 Sebastian - Honor Whyte 4/5f
2 Charlie - Charlotte Ingleton
3 Tazfantastic - Sam Wisbey
Time 1-06 Dists: Nk, 2L 6 ran