Point-To-Point racing beat the freeze as a large crowd braved low temperatures to blow away the christmas cobwebs at the Cambridgeshire Harriers Hunt Club meeting at Cottenham on Sunday.
A mild frost meant that the first race was put back by half an hour. But once the action got under way it proved worth the wait, with 92 runners contesting eight races.
As is so often the case at this time of year, the East Anglian horses made little impact against a host of long-distance travellers.
Indeed the home team could manage no better than a quartet of third places, beginning with the one achieved by the Biggleswade-trained Ski Dazzle in the Restricted Race.
This witnessed the most impressive performance of the day as the Oxfordshire raider,Gentleman Anshan, almost gave his jockey, Hannah Watson, a neck injury as she looked around for non-existent dangers up the home straight.
Still six months short of his fifth birthday, Gentleman Anshan has now won both his British starts at this venue and looks to have a very bright future.
The feature event on the card was the Men’s Open, and hopes were high that the 2-1 favourite, Caveman, trained at Wymondham by Nibby Bloom, could strike a blow for the hosts.
But though Caveman led for much of the final circuit, he had no answer to the gutsy rally of another Oxfordshire-trained visitor, Moscow Court, and was also denied second prize by Olival.
Hannah Lewis, who trains Olival in Gloucestershire, had to wait just an hour to gain compensation with Shareef in the Ladies’ Open. This time she was in the saddle too, and produced the ride of the meeting to come from a long way back and collar Grasp after the last.
It proved a day to remember for young riders Sam Twiston-Davies and Josh Hamer, who both notched their first winners.
Twiston-Davies, whose father, Nigel, trained Earth Summit to win the 1998 Grand National, guided Grenfell to a comfy success in the Novice Riders’ Race.
And Hamer, who at 18 is two years the senior of Twiston-Davies, looked accomplished in the plate aboard easy Maiden winner Thegalleryman. This was also a first training success for Worcestershire handler Frank Windsor Clive.
The day’s luckiest winner was Salveo, who had travelled all the way from Alnwick, in the Scottish Borders. He took advantage of the errant jumping of his rivals to land a maiden in which only three of the nine runners completed the course.
Sykee Savage justified the long trip from near Bristol to take the Club Members Race while the closing Maiden saw a third victory of the day for travellers from Oxfordshire as Start Royal scooted clear for the powerful trainer-jockey combination of Alan Hill and James Tudor.
Race One (Members’ Race):
1 B Chiver’s Sykee Savage (Ledbury) (D Mansell),
2 C Franklin’s Maire de Beaulieu (Ledbury) (R Burton),
3 Mrs K Drinkwater’s Gulabill (Cotswold) (S Drinkwater).
Also: Bobbies Ryde (4), Gregory Peckory (5), Lady Ann Lewis (6), Columba (7), Flagmount King (8), Newnham Baby (pu), Scare Lotte (ur). Two lengths, five lengths. 5.58. SP 7-4 fav.
Race Two (Restricted Race):
1 Mrs R Gasson’s Gentleman Anshan (Farmers Bloodhounds) (Miss H Watson),
2 P Corbett and Miss S Davies’ Upton Springs (Ludlow) (J Jarrett),
3 Mr and Mrs W Brown’s Ski Dazzle (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Miss E Bell).
Also: Balableu (4), More Trouble (5), Rock Charlie (6), Dolly Bell (7), Tremerfirth (8), Double Encore (pu), Mai Cure (pu), Pagans Dancer (pu), Waxing Gibus (pu). Eight lengths, eight lengths. 5.54. SP 9-4 (More Trouble 7-4 fav).
Race Three (Men’s Open Race):
Mrs D Plunkett’s Moscow Court (Heythrop) (I Howe),
2 Mr and Mrs I McGready’s Olival (Monmouths) (A Wintle),
3 Countess Cathcart’s Caveman (W Norfolk ) (G Greenock).
Also: Yann’s (4), Polar Scout (5), Del Trotter (6), Duke of Stradone (7), Ballyowen (8), Big Al (pu), Brown Teddy (pu), Prelude D’Estruval (pu), Tuesday’s Child (pu). Two lengths, two lengths. 6.04. SP 7-1 (Caveman 2-1 fav).
Race Four (Countryside Alliance Members’ Race (novice riders):
1 Mrs C Twiston-Davies’ Grenfell (Heythrop) (S Twiston-Davies),
2 A Murphy’s Tribal Venture (Croome and W Warwicks) (O Murphy),
3 Ms A Embiricos and Mrs S Embiricos’ Master Rex (Essex and Suffolk) (J Bailey).
Also: El Veijo (4), Howard Howard (5), Saafend Rocket (6), Nokimover (7), Erte (8), Mr Naborro (9), Dark Thunder (10), Buckland Boy (pu), Heaven is Above (ur), Lost Time (ur), Wincy Spider (ur), High Rank (f). Fifteen lengths, two lengths. 6.06. SP 5-4 fav.
Race Five (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 The Copper Horse Friend’s Shareef (Cotswold UF) (Miss H Lewis),
2 S Flook’s Grasp (Radnor and W Herefords) (Miss C Allen),
3 P Perkin’s Papillon de Iena (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Miss E Bell).
Also: Caraman (4), Tsar’s Twist (5), Rainbow Tree (6), Viscount Bankes (7), New Entic (8), Candarli (9), Relative Hero (pu), The Lady Would (pu). Two-and-a-half lengths, five lengths. 6.03. SP 5-1 (Grasp 5-2 fav).
Race Six (Open Maiden Race seven years and over):
1 Miss H Bevan’s The Galleryman (Ludlow) (J Hamer),
2 R Bevis’ Freddie Ed (Cotswold UF) (S Drinkwater),
3 P Chapple-Hyam’s Grey Shark (Cottesmore) (Miss K Smith).
Also: Whosethatfor (4), Redskyatnight (5), Rakaman (6), Mac and scar (7), Carriage Ride (8), Big John Macarty (pu), Cowboys Crunch (ur), Farranfore (pu), Guzzle (tnp), Trolly Girl (pu). Fifteen lengths, two lengths. 6.02. SP 2-1 fav.
Race Seven (Open Maiden Race four, five and six-year-olds – Division One):
1 V Thompson’s Salveo (Percy) (T Davidson),
2 R Russ’ Oakland Bobby (Cleveland) (C McCormack),
3 M Seymour’s Lungarno (Croome and W Warwicks).
Also: Always Willing (pu), Cry Of The Wolf (f), Glad Star (ur), Hemington (ur), Idun (f), Maurice The Athlete (f). One-and-a-half lengths, distance. 4.45. SP 16-1 (Idun 2-1fav).
Race Eight (Open Maiden Race four, five and six-year-olds – Division Two):
1 S Nash, A Hill, Mrs H Nash and M Avery’s Start Royal (Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and S Berks) (J Tudor),
2 S Flook, G Slade-Jones, T Jones and P Matthew’s Frankie Phlanagan (Radnor and W Herefords) (D Mansell),
3 Ms H Taylor’s Turn Card (N Hereford) (J Jarrett).
Also: Master Saddler (4), Lord Brownlow (5), Digger Time (6), Tudor’s Boy (pu), Watermill (ur). Fifteen lengths, two lengths. 4.46. SP 2-1 fav.