Saturday 11th March @ Ampton
Reigning National Champion Lady Rider Gina Andrews was the main beneficiary as Point-To-Point Racing finally returned to East Anglia following a weather-induced six week break with an enjoyable Suffolk Hunt meeting at Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds, on Sunday.
Andrews, originally from Lilley in Hertfordshire, extend her lead in this year’s title race with a treble, two of the three victories coming in partnership with her Warwickshire-based husband and trainer, Tom Ellis.
But she got the ball rolling in the opening contest when Hawkhurst, trained in Oxfordshire by Alan Hill, proved two lengths too strong for the doughty front-runner, Knockedoutloaded,
Hawkhurst is owned by one of the region’s most gregarious steeplechasing fans, Keith Loads, from Thursford, in north Norfolk. As usual, Loads welcomed home his charge as if it was the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he later stressed that the victory had been extra special because it had been recorded in the presence of his 93-year-old father, David.
The other Andrews-assisted wins came in the Skinners Pet Foods Ladies Open, thanks to Blue Mountain Boy, and the Restricted Race, via Kalabaloo.
Blue Mountain Boy started off with three rivals but by the time he had reached the penultimate fence he was galloping solo. Firstly his main market rival, Man Of Steel, was pulled up owing to a slipped saddle, then both his other opponents lost their jockeys thanks to final circuit jumping blunders.
Kalabaloo’s triumph was not so clear cut but he was well on top at the winning line, which he passed two and a half lengths clear of the fast-finishing Stage One.
The veteran Consigliere, a stablemate of both Hawkhurst and Stage One, was expected by the bookies to make his experience pay in the Mens Open Race.
But he had to give best by three lengths to a much younger rival, Midnight Cowboy, who was having his first start for Newmarket trainer James Owen and Stetchworth-based owner-rider, Tim Gredley.
Midnight Cowboy came home strongly despite worries about his ability to cope with the soft ground and will now be aimed at the Queen’s Cup Hunter Chase at Fakenham on Easter Monday.
Andrew Pennock, who trains a strong string within sight of this course at Timworth, ended the afternoon with two reasons to celebrate.
Firstly he landed his 100th victory since moving into his current Dalmer Lodge yard when the heavily gambled upon Chosen Rose registered a narrow success over Midnight Bliss in the Open Maiden.
Then the 53-year-old, riding in public for the first time in four years, guided Galros Lady to a two length score in the three-runner Hunt Race.
The longest-priced winner of the day was the 6-1 shot, Summer Sounds, who made it three wins in five starts since joining the Warwickshire stable of Francesca Nimmo with a front-running Intermediate Race victory.
GOING: GOOD TO SOFT, SOFT IN PLACES
East Anglian Area Conditions Race 1st Hawkhurst Gina Andrews 1/3f 2nd Knockedoutloaded Tabitha Worsley 10/1 3rd Curraghbower Rupert Stearn 7/1
Time 6-47 Dists:3L 20L 8 ran also Curragh Hall 6th Joe The Trucker PU Oscar Vespasian 5th Rendezvous Peak 4th Sitting Back PU
Intermediate Race 1st Summer Sounds James Jackson Stops 11/2 2nd Haut Bages Rupert Stearn 16/1 3rd Allie Beag Johnny Bailey 4/5f
Time 6-47 Dists: 4L 1/2L 7 ran also Ginuwinefizz 5th Kingston College PU Mahlers Spirit UR Virgo The First 4th
Ladies 1st Blue Mountain Boy Gina Andrews 4/7f
Time 6-59 Dists: Finished Alone 4 ran also Man Of Steel PU Penelope Pips UR Tirob UR
Mens 1st Midnight Cowboy Tim Gredley Ev’s f 2nd Consigliere Johnny Bailey 5/4 3rd Weather Warning Charlie Buckle 8/1
Time 6-45 Dists: 3l 15L 4 ran also Franks A Million PU
Restricted 1st Kalabaloo Gina Andrews 4/5f 2nd Stage One Daniel Cherriman 3/1 3rd Kings Walden Will Thirlby 14/1
Time 6-56 Dists:2 1/2L 1/2L 7 ran also Cresta One PU Muchadoboutnothing RTR The Master Remover 4th This Breac PU
Maiden 1st Chosen Rose Evan David 4/6f 2nd Midnight Bliss Kate Gowing 3/1 3rd Desert Retreat Gareth Henderson 3/1
Time 6-57 Dists: 1/2L 6L 8 ran also Chargehand PU Iwillifiwant PU Know More Oats PU Mrs Ellis PU New Tarabela PU
Hunt Members 1st Galros Lady Andrew Pennock 1/2f 2nd Bavard Court Louise Allan 5/4 3rd Benheir Rupert Stearn 4/1
Time 7-49 Dists: 2L 20L 3 ran