Memories of Kula, a top horse of yesteryear, were rekindled as the 2011-12 East Anglian Point-To-Point season got off to a low key start with the Cambridge University United Hunts Club fixture at Cottenham on Sunday.
Firm ground meant that just 26 horses contested the six races and not a single one was won by a locally-trained animal. Indeed, every winner travelled at least 100 miles to get to the Cambridge venue.
However, El Tanner, the owner/trainer/breeder of the Restricted Race scorer, Bedrock Fred,is East Anglian born and bred, even though she now lives in Wlitshire. Her mother, Carolyn Tanner is the former point-to-point correspondent of this paper and still lives at Wetherden, near Stowmarket.
And Bedrock Fred was carrying the same colours that were sported to a course and distance victory over quarter of a century ago by Kula, who went on to eight further East Anglian triumphs.
Although docile enough at home to be ridden by Tanner senior’s four-year-old grandson, Ben,Bedrock Fred gets excited when he is about to compete, hence his arrival at the course was precisely timed for the very last moment, El parking up in the adjacent village for 20 minutes to ensure punctuality.
Unfortunately, her timings were thrown awry by a 45 delay following two serious jockey head injuries in a previous race and ‘Fred’ duly worked himself up into a muck sweat as he waited to be allowed into the paddock.
Things went much more smoothly in the race itself as, partnered by Rob Jarrett, he made every yard of the running to come home 25 lengths clear of Gentle Jim.
The aforementioned head injuries were suffered by Stuart Higgins, from Erpingham, near Aylsham, and Freddie Mitchell, from Surrey, as they took crashing falls from their mounts in the Men’s Open Race. They were both taken to hospital and were later reported to be in ‘satisfactory’ condition.
This left the only other Men’s Open runner, Border Fusion, to come home alone and spark a double for his Cheshire trainer, Gary Hanmer, who also saddled The Recovery to a three length verdict in the Older Horse Maiden race.
The AGA-sponsored Ladies’ Open went to Zanzibar Boy, trained in Berkshire by Karrie Fanshawe, who set off in front and proved eight lengths too strong for the favourite, Ski Dazzle.
Worcester trainer Zoe Hammond enjoyed mixed fortunes from her two runners on the card. Timeshift was expected to easily account for his four rivals in the Club Members Race but, detached in last throughout, he was pulled up after one circuit leaving the Surrey raider, She Is A Cracker, to saunter home by 25 lengths.
Hammond gained compensation in the closing Young Horse Maiden as Bobowen got the better of a good tussle with Tomstar to score by three-quarters of a length.
Here are the results for the Cambridge University United Hunts Club fixture at Cottenham. The official going was firm. The weather was sunny and mild for the time of year. Proceedings watched by a smaller than average crowd for this meeting.
PPORA Conditions Race
1 She Is A Cracker – George Gorman 3/1
2 Nothing’s Easy – Patrick Smith
3 Sykee Savage – Emily Pain
Time 5 mins, 57 secs Dists: 25L, Dist 5 ran Timeshift 1/2 f (PU)
1 Border Fusion – Will Telfer 1/4f
Time 6-02 Dists: Finished Alone 3 ran
Aga Ladies Open
1 Zanzibar Boy – Rachel King 3/1
2 Ski Dazzle – Bridget Andrews 13/8f
Time 6-01 Dists 8L 4 ran, 2 finished
1 Bedrock Fred – Rob Jarrett 11/10
2 Gentle Jim – Clare Douglas
3 Tushana – Matt Smith 10/11f
Time 5-52 Dists: 25L 2 1/2L 3 ran
1 The Recovery – Josh Hamer 8/11f
2 Mr Maybe – Will Hickman
3 Aconitum – Ruth Tutton
Time 6-00 Dists: 3L, 2L 5 ran 4 jumps omitted in this race, low sun
4 & 5 YO Maiden 2miles 4 furlongs
1 Bobowen – Dave Mansell 11/10f
2 Tomstar – Matt Smith
3 Celtic Ballad – Rob Jarrett
Time 4-41 Dists: 3/4L, 2L 6 ran 2 jumps omitted in this race, low sun