East Anglian horses failed to make much impact as the 2012-13 Point-To-Point season got under way with the Cambridge University United Hunts Club fixture at Cottenham, near Cambridge.
There were no East Anglian winners (not entirely surprisingly, given that only eight of the day’s 52 runners were trained in this region) and the happiest local must surely have been 16-year-old Jess Quinlan, from Newmarket.
Having her first ride between the flags, she got a great tune out of Park Lane, who is owned and trained by her mother, Jo. But she had to settle for second place behind the easy winner, Sagalyrique, in the AGA-sponsored Ladies’ Open.
Angela Rucker, the owner-trainer-rider of Sagalyrique, is at the opposite end of the experience scale, as this was her 83rd win over fences.
Rucker, from Droitwich in Worcestershire, nearly retired after a crunching fall last spring left her with a broken shoulder. But, encouraged to keep going by her three daughters, she admitted that she still got a great buzz out of race-riding.
It was quite a day for Angela as not only did she complete a double (though this time only as an owner/trainer) when Just Dave landed the older horse maiden, she was also on hand to see her 19-year-old niece and near-neighbour, Abs Banks, notch her first ever victory aboard Hall Kelly in the Restricted Race.
The trophy for this event looked as if it might remain in the region when Kilbeg Opera, trained at Sutton, near Ely, by Martin Ward, led the field into the final turn. But Kilbeg Opera lost a number of lengths in running horribly wide on the bend and eventually had to make do with fourth place.
Just Dave’s wide-margin triumph prompted Rucker to say: “Thank goodness we made it out of our yard this morning. After all this rain, we had not negotiate a flood and I wasn’t sure we would be able to make it through.”
Despite this downpour, Cottenham’s exceptionally well-drained terrain held up remarkably well and the going was only marginally on the soft side of good.
The day got off to a surprise start when Corredor Sun, trained in Gloucestershire by Richard Bevis and the rank outsider of the field at 40-1, proved eight lengths too strong for his 13 opponents in the Club Members Race.
Oxfordshire handler Alan Hill has an outstanding Cottenham record and he improved it further when Ocean du Moulin, ridden by his 17-year-old son, Joe, was the only member of the four-strong Men’s Open field to jump with real aplomb and took advantage to grab a facile victory.
Finally, Tom Morgan, from Waltham On The Wolds in Leicestershire, made a dream start to his training career when his first runner, Lough Inch, held off the late thrust ofMoscow Menace by a length to land the younger horse maiden.
PPORA Club Members
1 Corredor Sun – Alexandra Stirling 40/1
2 Swallows Delight – David Mansell
3 Herecomesthetruth – Tom Weston 7/4 f
Time 6-05 Dists: 8L, 3L 14 ran
1 Ocean Du Moulin – Joe Hill 7/4
2 Monogram – Tristan Davidson
3 Peplum – Ben Bentley
Time 6-15 Dists: Dist, 1L 4 ran Marky Bob 4/5f (4th)
1 Sagalyrique – Angela Rucker Ev’s f
2 Park Lane – Jessica Quinlan
3 Silver Adonis – Tessa Champion
Time 6-15 Dists: 6L, 10L 6 ran
1 Hall Kelly – Abigail Banks 8/1
2 We Never Give Up – Peter Mann
3 Tamara King – Paige Fuller
Time 6-18 Dists: 10L, Hd 10 ran Realt Ag Leimt 2/1f (Fell)
1 Just Dave – Tom Weston Ev’s f
2 Banksandditches – Toby Speke
3 Did You Ever – Will Hickman
Time 6-11 Dists: Dist, 1/2L 11 Ran
4 & 5 Year Olds Maiden 2 1/2 miles
1 Lough Inch – Sam Davies Thomas 5/1
2 Moscow Menace – Jamie Hamilton
3 Raynell – Nick Slatter
Time 4-49 Dists: 1L, 3/4L 8 ran Mr Stint 7/4f (6th)