The glorious uncertainty of jump racing was vividly demonstrated at a rainswept Cottenham on Saturday as the fences took their toll on the mud-spattered contestants at the Cambridge University United Hunts Club Point-To-Point.

Dry Highline and Spring Gale, two of the big success stories of the 2000 season, both came a cropper at the notorious ‘island’ fence, which is both the ninth and second last of the 19 obstacles in each race.

Dry Highline was completing an unwanted Cottenham treble, as he has now fallen on all three of his visits to the course, on the last two occasions in exactly the same place.

Sympathy must be extended to the connections of Mr Spectator, who was brought down by the prostrate Dry Highline, leaving Pangeran to claim a facile victory over Broadway Swinger, his one remaining rival, in the four- runner Men’s Open Race.

Trained and ridden by Neil King, from Whepstead, near Bury St Edmunds, Pangeran will run next in a Hunter Chase at Huntingdon on May 2.

Ruth Hayter, trainer of Dry Highline, gained rapid compensation when Dawn Alert lifted the Ladies’ Open 35 minutes later. Partnered by Lisa Rowe, Dawn Alert’s task was made easier when Spring Gale unshipped Zoe Turner at the penultimate fence.

Spring Gale, the red hot favourite, was two lengths behind the winner at the time, so the result was still very much in the balance.

Harry Fowler, the Newmarket-based jockey, looked sure to get a hectic athletic weekend off to the perfect start by taking the Restricted Race aboard Ulvick Star less than 24 hours before contesting the London Marathon.

But Ulvick Star, who is something of an equine hooligan, skewed violently right at the final fence with the race at his mercy. Despite his best efforts, Fowler was unseated, leaving him to reflect that at least Sunday’s race was over only 26 miles and not 26 fences!

The benificiary of Fowler’s misfortune was Chris Carman, from Heydon, near Norwich, who made it two wins in successive weeks aboard Rafter, who was an apt winner on a day when the jockeys might have preferred a paddle rather than a whip.

There were plenty more thrills and spills in the two Maiden races. Nigel Bloom, from Wymondham, continued his excellent recent run with victory in the first division aboard Spectre, who is trained by his father, Mike, for North Walsham farmer, Jim Papworth.

The second last fence again played a major role, as Spectre was only disputing third place, albeit travelling like a winner, when Curracloe Rose, Out By Night and Bannagh Express all came to grief at that obstacle.

Ruth Hayter, from Glemsford, and owners Anthony and Sue Howland-Jackson, from Wakes Colne, completed a double when Heathburn took division two under

Christian Ward Thomas. This time the third last was the villain of the piece, but Heathburnhad already gone clear when his two closest pursuers departed there.

The wonderfully-named Tumlin Oot (whose sire is Amazing Bust and dam is Tumlin Brig!) gave owner-trainer-rider Mike Lurcock, from Peterborough, a second career success in the Countryside Alliance Novice Riders’ Race, while the opening Members’ Race went to the Oxfordshire raider, Cherrynut.


Race One (Members Race):

1 T Barlow’s Cherrynut (Vale of Aylesbury) (D Barlow),

2 Miss L Sweeting’s Hill Island (Heythrop) (owner),

3 P Jonason’s Just Jack (Cambs) (Miss F Jonason);

also Chris’s Lad (f). Ten lengths, a distance. 6m 29s. W œ1.40. DF œ1.30. SP 1-4fav.

Race Two (Countryside Alliance Novice Riders Race):

1 M Lurcock’s Tumlin Oot (Fitzwilliam) (Owner),

2 B Kennedy’s Faha Gig (Essex Farmers and Union) (A Braithwaite),

3 W Turcan’s Neelisagin (Fernie) (J Turcan);

also Court Amber (4), Cosa Fuair (5), Candle Glow (6), Premier First (7), Father’s Joy (ur), Fawn Prince (f), Nanda Devi (pu), On The Beer (pu), Safety (f). Eight lengths, a distance. 6m 29s. W œ2.80. DF œ9.30. SP 6-4fav.

Race Three (Men’s Open Race):

1 Mrs A McVay and R Oliver-Smith’s Pangeran (Suffolk) (N King),

2 P Cooke’s Broadway Swinger (Cottesmore) (S Andrews) only two finished;

also Dry Highline (f), Mister Spectacle (pu). A distance. 6m 33s. W œ3.30. DF œ4.20. SP 7-4 (Dry Highline 4-6fav).

Race Four (Ladies’ Open Race):

1 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson’s Dawn Alert (Suffolk) (Miss L Rowe),

2 N J King’s Lets Twist Again (Suffolk) (Miss A Stennett),

3 Mrs P Hutchinson’s Tighter Budget (Fernie) (Miss G Hutchinson);

also Peanuts Pet (4), Spring Gale (ur), Uron V (pu). A distance, six lengths. 6m 24s. W œ2.30. DF œ38.40. SP 9-4 (Spring Gale 2-5fav).

Race Five (Restricted Race):

1 C Carman’s Rafter (North Norfolk Harriers) (Owner),

2 M Keane’s The Millmaster (Puckeridge) (T Lane),

3 B Kennedy’s Minino (Essex Farmers and Union) (A Coe);

also Mackoy (4), Al Jawwal (pu), Ballad (pu), Coptic Dancer (pu), Sweet Talker (f), Ulvick Star (ur). Four lengths, two lengths. 6m 39s. W œ8.30. DF œ39.20. SP 5-1 (Ballad 2-1fav).

Race Six (Maiden Race – Division One):

1 A J Papworth’s Spectre (Dunston Harriers) (N Bloom),

2 B Clark and Miss C Lucas’ Glencoy (Puckeridge) (A Coe),

3 J Worth’s Airborne Blue (Cambs) (K Sheppard); also Always Trying (pu), Bannagh Express (f), Casino Nell (pu), Classic Ms (pu), Curracloe Rose (f), Out By Night (bd), Polly Live Wire (f), Sidney Street (pu), Winward (pu). A distance, four lengths. 6m 50s. W œ6.80. DF œ7.40. SP 7-2 (Curracloe Rose 2-1fav).

Race Seven (Maiden Race – Division Two):

1 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson’s Heathburn (Suffolk) (C Ward-Thomas),

2 R Lush’s Wise Point (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (G Lush), only two finished;

also Bandit Boy (pu), Campbellhill (f), City Run (pu), Craftbook Marchesa (pu), Dilly May Dally (pu), Eltrym Flyer (pu), Henpecked (pu), Lazy Access (pu), Out Of Actons (ur), Tod’s Brother (pu). A distance. 6m 53s. W œ2.20. DF œ23.60. SP 6-4fav.