PUCKERIDGE - HORSEHEATH
Saturday 28th March
Close finishes were the order of the day at Horseheath, near Haverhill, on Saturday with half of the six races at the Puckeridge Point-To-Point decided by less than a length – including both the Open events.
In some ways it was a day to forget for Oxfordshire trainer Alan Hill as he provided the beaten odds-on favourite in each of those two tight Opens. However, as Hill rightly pointed out afterwards, a bad day is when one of your horses gets injured, rather than this meeting when his three runners managed two seconds and a fourth.
Sharp Suit was the first of the Hill hotpots to come up short in the Ladies Open race. A Cheltenham hunter chase winner last season, he did not travel or jump with any great zest and came up against a determined rival in It Was Me.
The pair were virtually level crossing the final obstacle but It Was Me, who is trained at Badlingham, near Newmarket, by Nick Wright and was beautifully ridden by Carey Williamson, who found a bit extra to score by three-quarters of a length.
Half an hour later and the Mens Open witnessed an almost carbon copy finish with the Hill representative, Ravethebrave, going down by half a length to Empire Builder.
The winner, who may now go for the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Hunter Chase Final at Cheltenham on April 29th, is trained in Northamptonshire by Gerald Bailey but is owned by Countess Cathcart, from Gateley, near Fakenham, and was ridden by her son, George Greenock.
The closing Restricted Race resulted in an even narrower victory with Curraigflemens, trained and ridden by David Kemp, from Croxton, near Thetford, just holding on by a neck from Biddles Bedouin.
Curraigflemens was following up his course and distance victory last month to complete a double at his local track for owner John Ridge, from Little Chishill, near Royston.
John Ferguson’s day job is as Bloodstock Adviser to Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, so he was unable to make it to Horseheath as he had weightier matters to attend to in the Arabian Gulf, namely watching his boss’s Prince Bishop win the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup.
But that did not stop the Cowlinge (near Newmarket) trainer from enjoying his second Pointing double in three weeks, this time both ridden by his son, James.
Both of the Ferguson victories were registered in emphatic style – first Colonel Iain (named after the jockey’s onlooking grandfather) in the Club Members race and then by Ronnie Lawson in the Intermediate Race.
Finally, Mr Raj, trained at Shenley in Hertfordshire by Tom Gallagher, outspeeded Beat The Index from the final fence to land the Maiden race under Tom Ellis.
GOING: GOOD TO FIRM
Horseheath Hunts Club Members 1st Colonel Iain (James Ferguson) 1/5f 2nd Evening Echo (Andrew Braithwaite) 7/2 3rd Baltic Blue (Carey Williamson) 12/1
Time 6mins 27 secs Dists: 20L, 3L 3 ran
Open Maiden 1st Mr Raj (Tom Ellis) 7/2 2nd Beat The Index (Rupert Stearn) 7/2 3rd Silvogans Hook (Dick Collinson) 2/1
Time 6-56 Dists: 3L, 1 1/2L 6 ran Amber Flush 7/4f (4th)
Ladies 1st It Was Me (Carey Williamson) 9/4 2nd Sharp Suit (Katy Lyons) 4/6f 3rd See You Jack (Gina Andrews) 3/1
Time 6-15 Dists: 3/4L, 15L 5 ran
Mens 1st Empire Builder (George Greenock) 2/1 2nd Ravethebrave (Joe Hill) 2/5f 3rd Irish Rebel (Tom Ellis) 14/1
Time 6-23 Dists: 1/2L 6L 3 ran
Intermediate 1st Ronnie Lawson (James Ferguson) 4/7f 2nd Desertmore Valley (Rupert Stearn) 5/1 3rd Franks A Million (Ed Turner) 40/1
Time 6-22 Dists: 12L, 2L 6 ran
Restricted 1st Curraigflemens (David Kemp) Evs f 2nd Biddles Bedouin (Johnny Bailey) 7/4 3rd Kilbeg Opera (Jack Andrews) 5/2
Time 6-31 Dists: Nk, 1 1/2L 4 ran