The popularity of Point-To-Pointing was again in evidence at Horseheath on Saturday as a large crowd watched 80 horses contest the eight-race Cambridgeshire fixture.
The finish of the day came in the Ladies’ Open race as Thurles Pickpocket responded to the urgings from the saddle of an inspired Sam Hodge to get the better of a terrific duel with Gi d’Angibau, aboard Cache Fleur.
The pair were locked together from the second last fence and, after Cache Fleur had nosed ahead on the run-in, Thurles Pickpocket rallied in the last 50 yards to score by half a length.
The winner, who is trained at Raydon, near Hadleigh, by George Cooper and Cherie Cunningham, was scoring for the second successive week. Hodge, from Braughing, near Bishop’s Stortford, reported that she intentionally kept to the inside as her mount has a tendency to jump to his right.
The Intermediate Race produced an even tighter tussle, with Just One Question taking advantage of a ponderous leap at the final fence by the odds-on favourite, Buckaholic, to land the spoils by a head. Just One Question is trained near Luton by Katya Pilkington, and was a first winner of the season for jockey Alex Harvey.
It was relief all round for Mrs Pilkington’s near neighbour, the trainer- rider Simon Andrews, after Monty’s Tag lifted the second division of the Maiden Race in eye-catching style.
“I have not been able to sleep all week,” admitted Andrews, who in three previous meetings this season had not completed the course on a single one of his mounts. “I knew that Michael (Gore, the owner) was going to have a bet on Monty’s Tag and so many things can go wrong.”
Gore, from West Somerton, near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, did indeed avail himself of some 5-1 about the winner, who was returned a 3-1 chance. A strapping seven-year-old son of Montelimar, Monty’s Tag could be a star of the future.
The other Maiden race completed a memorable day for the Hodge family as Country Barle, who is trained by Sam’s father-in-law, Hugh, came home a distance clear of the only other finisher, Glencloy.
Ridden by Nigel Bloom, Country Barle was equipped with a first-time visor in an attempt to sharpen up his jumping. He has long shown plenty of ability but has suffered from a litany of problems and was finally getting off the mark at the ripe old age of 12.
“This proves that everything comes to those who wait, but I still can’t believe it,” an overjoyed Hodge said afterwards.Headgear also worked the oracle in the Confined Race as the blinkered Rupert’s Choice, gave jockey Simon Sporborg and his family, from Bishop’s Stortford, their fifth success of the season with an authoritative 20 length defeat of Bramblehill Buck.
Fair Exchange, trained near Royston by Gurney and Josie Sheppard and ridden by Paul Taiano, should go on to better things after disposing of his six rivals with the minimum of fuss in the opening Members race, while Teeton Builds, who is trained in Northamptonshire by Joan Tice, broke Andrew Sansome’s duck for the year when defeating Fresh Ice in the PPORA Members’ Race.
Finally, Real Value is set to go Hunter Chasing after making amends for his Cottenham fall by trouncing his opposition in the Men’s Open Race. Trained in Sussex by Di Grissell, Real Valuewas adding to the remarkable record of his owners, Barry Cockerell and Alan Cowing. Since 1995, they have seen runners carry their pink colours at this course eight times and have only once tasted defeat.
Race One (Members Race):
1 Mrs M G Sheppard’s Fair Exchange (Cambridgeshire) (P Taiano),
2 Ms S Jenkin’s Javelin Cool (Cambridgeshire) (N King),
3 The Whitestick Partnership’s Free And Equal (Cambridgeshire) (S Andrews);
also Springwhat (4), Airborne Blue (pu), Daimer Blanc (ur), Just Jack (pu). A distance, five Lengths. 6m 44s. W œ1.40. DF œ1.70. SP 2-5 fav.
Race Two (Confined Race):
1 Mr H Hill’s and Mr C Sporborg’s Rupert’s Choice (Puckeridge) (S Sporborg),
2 Mr M Kemp’s Bramblehill Buck (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
3 Mr B Clark’s Lord Knox (Puckeridge) (A Coe);
also More Fun (4), Spuffington (5), Cropredy Lad (6), Airtrak (pu), Carson City (pu), Holiday Time (pu), Salmon Mead (pu), Spaceage Gold (pu), Still In Business (pu). Twenty lengths, half a length. 6m 40s. W œ2.60. DF œ9.30. SP 11-10fav.
Race Three (Point-to-Point Owners Association Race):
1 Mrs J Tice’s Teeton Builds (Pytchley) (A Sansome),
2 Mr D Iveson’s Fresh Ice (Pytchley) (R Barrett),
3 Mr A Merriam’s Royal Banker (Easton Harriers) (N Bloom);
also Borrow Mine (4), Bakmalad (5), Aeolian (pu), Broadway Swinger (pu), Kites Hardwicke (pu), Minor Key (ur), Penrose Lad (pu). Three lengths, fifteen lengths. 6m 42s. W œ2.40. DF œ2.50. SP 6-4fav.
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 Cockerell Cowing Partnership’s Real Value (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (B Hitchcott),
2 Mrs Rosemary Gasson’s Freedom Fighter (Farmers Draghounds) (A Martin);
also Beau Joueur (pu), Epsilo De La Bonce (f), Jack The Td (pu), Looks Like Reign (pu), Mighty Merc (pu), No Quitting (r), Prince Of Saints (pu), Reuter (pu). A distance. 6m 39s. W œ1.40. DF œ8.40. SP 2-5fav.
Race Five (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Mr J Stevens’ Thurles Pickpocket (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (Mrs S Hodge),
2 Mrs G D’Angibau’s Cache Fleur (Essex and Suffolk) (Mrs G d’Angibeau),
3 Mr J M Turner’s Spring Gale (Suffolk) (Mrs E Coveney);
also Faha Gig (4), Ballyedward (5), Fern Leader (pu), Lets Twist Again (pu), Royal Surprise (ur). Half a length, five lengths. 6m 37s. W œ3.60. DF œ2.70. SP 9-4 (Cache Fleur 11-10fav).
Race Six (Intermediate Race):
1 Mrs K Pilkington’s Just One Question (Enfield Chace) (A Harvey),
2 Dr D Silk’s, Mr W Meadows’ and Mr B Warren’s Buckaholic (K and S Bloodhounds) (P Bull),
3 Mr G Maundrell’s Ryder Cup (Tedworth) (owner);
also The Millmaster (4), Ballydesmond (pu), Blithe Spirit (pu), Court Amber (r), Generous Deal (pu), Mackroy (pu), Skinsey
Finnegan (pu). Head, five lengths. 6m 40s. W œ8.10. DF œ2.60. SP 5-1 (Buckaholic 4-5fav).
Race Seven (Maiden Race – Division One):
1 Mrs Hodge’s Country Barle (Puckeridge) (N Bloom),
2 Mr B Clark’s and Ms C Lucas’ Glencoy (Puckeridge) (A Coe);
also Always Trying (pu), Cardinal Bud (ur), Colemore Green (pu), Josh’s Choice (pu), Malvern Lad (pu), Mr Matchit (ur), Nosy Parker (pu), Sem Liki (pu), Thunderbird (ur). A distance. 6m 48s. W œ5.90. DF 16.10. SP 3-1 (Josh’s Choice 5-2fav).
Race Eight (Maiden Race – Division Two):
1 Mr M Gore’s Monty’s Tag (Enfield Chace) (S Andrews),
2 M G Sheppard’s Uncle Buck (Cambridgeshire) (P Taiano),
3 The Wickham Partnership’s You Can Quote Me (Puckeridge) (A Harvey);
also Minino (4), David Bruce (pu), Full Bore (pu), Here’s Humphrey (pu), Little Veralyn (pu), Outside The Rain (ur), Ruddy Marvel Lass (pu), Stormhill Farmer (pu), Tickle The Tiller (pu). Fifteen lengths, ten lengths. 6m 45s. W œ7.20. DF œ51.80. SP 3-1 (Tickle The Tiller 2-1fav).