Highlights of the last three decades of the East Essex
by Mike Ashby


Date:    25th March 2012        Going:  FIRM

Races:        6                           Runners:    25

Winning Favourites        2 out of 5 ( one race a walkover )

The four mile Essex Grand National was the feature race and victory went to George Greenock on the family favourite, CAVEMAN. Although considered possibly short of fitness, after suffering a bruised fetlock, Caveman went on to complete his sixth Marks Tey course victory. Two trainers had very successful afternoons. Caroline Fryer registered a treble with MARANACH (Hunt), BALLYGALLEY BOB (Novice Riders) and DEFYING GRAVITY walked over in the Ladies’ Open. Leo Mahon was the successful novice rider whilst Bridget Andrews was credited the honours for Caroline’s other two winners.

Andrew Pennock bagged a double with HOMELEIGH SIR in the Open Maiden and EILEENSBIRTHDAY won the Restricted, both winners were ridden by Ben Rivett.


CAVEMAN:   Bay gelding by Primitive Rising out of Ferneyhil

Became a standing dish at Marks Tey and at the end of the 2012 season had amassed seventeen career victories, six of which were at the Essex course. Enjoys an excellent relationship with George Greenock, son of owner Countess Cathcart but fails to act, as well, on soft going and courses like Marks Tey and Ampton suit his front-running style on sounder surfaces.



Date:     23rd February 2002             Going:  HEAVY (Soft in places)

Races:          8                                 Runners:    61

Winning Favourites:     5 out of 8

Very wintry conditions were in evidence on a day that saw eight races make up the day’s entertainment. LINLATHEN travelled down from Leicestershire to land the honours in the Ladies’ Open. The horse, owned by her mother, trained by her father and ridden by Gemma Hutchinson saw out the testing conditions, to score by seven lengths.

TAP THE FATHER, trained by Fred Farrow was produced by Christian Ward-Thomas at the last fence and held on determinedly from Mossy Bank, to take the Restricted race. Mossy Bank’s cause was not helped when George Cooper, accidentally, dropped his whip, out in the country.

George had earlier won the Confined on ENDEAVOUR whilst Christian Ward-Thomas was completing a double after DRY HIGHLINE finished alone in a three runner Men’s Open. The Intermediate race went to Andrew and Jean Merriam’s ROYAL BANKER, ridden by Nigel Bloom and the Members’ race saw Andrew Ayers ride his own NOVATARA to a twenty length victory.


NOVATARA :   Chestnut gelding by Ra Nova out of  Asphaltara

With owner/rider Andrew Ayers the chestnut enjoyed a great 2002 season, winning five times including a Hunter ‘Chase at Sandown. Won at Marks Tey again later in the season and finished on a winning note  with a victory at Northaw. Still, obviously, full of energy the gelding deposited Andrew after the winning line and galloped away and it was some twenty minutes before he was eventually caught.



Date:    4th April 1992         Going: GOOD TO  SOFT

Races:          6                                Runners:      68 

Winning Favourites:        4 out of 6

The final race of the day saw 18 runners face the starter for the Confined Maiden. The clear winners were MASTER STRIDES and Simon Cowell, drawing right away from their three

rivals, from three out, to win by twenty lengths. MOUNTAIN CRASH and Gi Chown put in an impressive display to win the Ladies’ Open by five lengths, from Fort Hall. The favourite, Skygrange, could never get in a blow and finished eighth and last.

UNION QUAY and Guy Pewter were the outsiders of five, at 14/1, in the opening Hunt race but took the prize when running on from the last to take the lead halfway up the run-in. Second placed Fishing Smack, who was overtaken, finished lame after scrambling over the last obstacle.

CARL’S CHOICE led at the second fence and won by thirty lengths, giving George Cooper an armchair ride, in the Men’s Open. This was one of ten consecutive races the partnership won during the 1982 season.


CARL’S CHOICE:    Bay gelding by The Brianstan out Spartan’s Girl

This winning machine was virtually untouchable during the 1982 season. His only defeat came in his last outing when going down by a mere length to Fort Hall at Cottenham when owner George Cooper ran him in the Ladies’ Open. A career total to the end of the ’82 season of twenty three victories, speaks volume for the sheer class and consistency of this great East Anglian favourite.



Date:   17th April 1982                Going:        FIRM        

Races:        6                                 Runners :     38                              

Winning Favourites:      2 out of 6 

Tim Moore won two Open races, the Men’s Open on LIGHT VALE and the Restricted Open aboard MISS BARLE. David Turner had a customary success on the favourite VAL d’AMOUR in the Adjacent Hunt’s race having a two length advantage at the finish over Nick Wright on Oedipus.

NANAMO improved on his third placing at the previous Marks Tey meeting to take the opening Hunt race for owner/trainer/rider Norman Pewter. SLIPPERS and Lucy Gibbon, after early jumping errors, made good progress and stay on resolutely up the Marks Tey finishing incline to beat the favourite Perspex Glory, by three lengths.                                             


NANAMO:   Chestnut gelding by Sovereign Gleam out of  Caribe II

The gelding took on a new lease of life when joining Norman Pewter’s stable and gave his owner / rider some great moments. The pairing was successful here and went on to win at Higham before finishing the 1982 season with a tremendous triumph in a Hunter ‘Chase at Huntingdon.