Controversy reigned after the finish of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and Marsh Private Clients-sponsored Mares Maiden at the Aldenham Harriers Point-To-Point at Cottenham on Saturday.
After a thrilling finish, Loyal Event was awarded the verdict by a head. But connections of the runner-up, Castlediva, were adamant that their horse had passed the post in front, jockey Nick Pearce insisting: “I won by half a length.”
Ben Pollock, Castlediva’s trainer, immediately signalled his intention to lodge an objection against the judge. But, like in cricket, the umpire’s decision is final and the rules of racing make no provision for such an objection.
So, despite an announcement over the tannoy that an objection hearing was under way, no such hearing took place. And what is believed to be a first pointing victory in 25 years for Loyal Event’s owner, Robert Clifton-Brown, from Little Bradley, near Haverhill, was assured.
A well-bred five-year-old mare who will surely go on to better things, Loyal Event was a first winner of the season for trainer Julie Read, from Chevington, near Bury St Edmunds. She was well ridden by Newmarket’s Harry Fowler, who seven days previously had won a Hunter Chase at Aintree in front of a 70,000 crowd but admitted that this success was ‘just as satisfying’.
Firm ground meant that the fields were generally small, but there were a number of other exciting finishes, most notably in the Land Rover Men’s Open where the Lincolnshire raider, Fine Times, held off Drumlin by three-quarters of a length with Royal Action and Wise Advice close behind in third and fourth.
Drumlin is owned and trained by the Turner family, from Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds, but they gained rapid compensation by landing the next two races – the Ladies’ Open with The Wiley Kalmuck and the Restricted Race with Fine And Dandy.
The Wiley Kalmuck looked in trouble when Torus Spa (a former Turner charge) kicked clear approaching the second last. But Zoe Turner was able to urge her mount clear after the last and The Wiley Kalmuck is set to reappear in a Novice Hunter Chase at Fakenham on Easter Monday.
New Ross is one of those rare horses who really relishes fast ground and, given a patient and stylish ride by Eye’s Alex Merriam, he justified odds-on favouritism in the Countryside Alliance Novice Riders’ Race.
Now trained by Mike Bloom at Wymondham, New Ross is an infuriatingly inconsistent performer and his former trainer, Alex’s mother Jean Merriam, admitted that she was sorely tempted to tip him out of the horsebox onto the M25 on the way back from a particularly mulish display at Folkestone last May!
Joy Lewin, from Luton, gained deserved reward for her tireless efforts in organising this meeting when Tell Monty, who she owns in partnership with trainer Michael Stevens, overturned the odds-on favourite, Barbed Broach, in the Members’ Race.
Finally, Andrew Braithwaite clinched the Cottenham riders’ championship for 2003 when landing the last race of the season there, the Open Maiden, aboard Denis Compton. Not seen on a racecourse since 1999, Denis Compton is owned and trained at Brent Pelham by Di Pyper.
Race One (Members Race):
1 M Stevens and Joy Lewin’s Tell Monty (Aldenham Harriers) (K Sheppard),
2 N W Padfield’s Barbed Broach (Aldenham Harriers) (A Sansome),
3 R J Bailey’s This Is My Life (Aldenham Harriers) (Owner).
Also Moorland Highflyer (4). Five lengths, fifteen lengths. 6m 27s. W £2.20. DF £1.40. SP 5-2 (Barbed Broach 4-5 fav).
Race Two (Members Race for Novice Riders):
1 Mrs M Merriam’s New Ross (Dunston Harriers) (A Merriam),
2 W Turlan’s Gin N Ice (Fernie) (J Turlan),
3 Mrs A E Lee’s Gratomi (Berks and Bucks) (Owner).
Also The Burglar (4). Eight lengths, eight lengths. 6m 16s. W £1.80. DF £6.10. SP 4-6 fav.
Race Three (Marsh Private Clients TBA PPORA Mares Maiden Race):
1 R L Clifton-Brown’s Loyal Event (Thurlow) (R H Fowler),
2 S A Blyth’s Castlediva (Fernie) (N Pearce),
3 A Lee-Smith’s Pendils Charm (Dunston Harriers) (D Kemp).
Also Memsahib Ki Behan (4), Altar Society (ref), Ginger Bug (pu), Mighty Missflighty (pu), Polly Tino (ref), Run River Run (ref), Six Bells (pu). Head, eight lengths. 6m 18s W £3.50. DF £9.50. SP 7-2 fav.
Race Four (Land Rover Men’s Open Race):
1 J M Robinson’s Fine Times (Burton) (M Mackley),
2 J M Turner’s Drumlin (Suffolk) (J Owen),
3 A G Chinery’s Royal Action (East Essex) (P Chinery).
Also Wise Advise (4), Solvang (5), Mill O’The Rags (pu), Take a Flyer (pu). Three-quarters of a length, neck. 6m 03s. W £2.20. DF £17.90. SP Evens fav.
Race Five (Ladies Open Race):
1 J M Turner’s The Wiley Kalmuck (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),
2 D Marriott’s Torus Spa (Cambridge University) (Miss N Barnes),
3 Mrs D Grissell’s Buckland Lad (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (Miss H Grissell).
Also Borrow Mine (4), Strong Medicine (pu), Thurles Pickpocket (pu). Three lengths, fifteen lengths. 6m 07s. W £2.70. DF £58.40. SP 5-2 (Thurles Pickpocket 6-4 fav).
Race Six (Restricted Race):
1 J M Turner’s Fine and Dandy (Suffolk) (J Owen),
2 D J and Mrs W E Lay’s Run Monty (Essex and Suffolk) (M Mackley),
3 M Ward and G Wedd’s Lone Star (Granta Harrierse) (Miss F Hatfield).
Also Mr Sizzler (pu). Eight lengths, eight lengths. 6m 20s. W £1.60. DF £1.10. SP 5-4 (Run Monty 8-11 fav).
Race Seven (Open Maiden Race):
1 Mrs D Pyper’s Denis Compton (Puckeridge) (A Braithwaite),
2 Miss R A Howard’s Piccolina (Cranwell Bloodhounds) (M Mackley),
3 D A Wales’ Camden Loch (West Norfolk) (D Kemp).
Also Bell Rock (4), Crown Rule (5), Just Lute (6), Fair Storm (7), Cherokee Red (pu). Fifteen lengths, a distance. 6m 11s. W £3.60. DF £43.60, SP 6-1 (Piccolina 3-1 fav).