Cappa Bleu is the name to remember from a sparkling Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace Point-To-Point fixture staged in brilliant arctic sunshine at Horseheath on Saturday.
Cappa Bleu, trained in Shropshire and ridden by three-time national champion Richard Burton, won one of the best races East Anglia has seen for many a long year.
And he didn’t just beat his 15 rivals in a top class Men’s Open, he demolished them, sauntering a dismissive 15 lengths clear without Burton having to reach for his whip.
Said to be less than fully fit for his first outing since crossing the Irish Sea with only four pointing starts under his belt, Cappa Bleu will now be aimed at the Cheltenham Foxhunter. And owner William Rucker was quick to compare him with State Of Play, who carried Rucker’s colours to victory in Britain’s second biggest handicap chase, the £85,000-to-the-winner Hennessy Gold Cup, in 2006.
Cappa Bleu’s time was comfortably the fastest of the day and fans of Rydal Park, trained at Kilverstone near Thetford by David Kemp, need not despair as his third place, conceding seven pounds to the winner, represents a highly encouraging seasonal debut.
Mid Div And Creep, trained at North Weald by Derek Harding-Jones, was the afternoon’s only East Anglian winner, in the Club Members Race which is restricted to local horses! Partnered by James Tudor, the 2007 national champion, Mid Div And Creep beat another Kemp inmate by two lengths.
My Best Buddy, winner of the Novice Riders’ Race, may be trained in Northamptonshire by Gerald Bailey, but he is owned by Cindy Aldridge, from Cottenham, near Cambridge. Aldridge jetted back from Ireland where she was watching her idols, Status Quo, play for the 450th time, to see My Best Buddy hold off Ronan The Warrior by a head in a stirring finish.
The closing older horse Maiden Race also produced a denouement to warm the frozen spectating throng as Single Player got up right on the line to deprive Coleraine. The result emphasised the quality of competitors on show throughout the card as the Buckinghamshire-trained winner was given a never-say-die ride by David Mansell, runaway early leader in this season’s jockeys’ championship.
Stuart Morris, another expert visiting pilot, produced a stylish display aboard the Northants raider, Gleeson, to deny Mansell’s mount, Red In Bed, in the youngsters Maiden.
A Rucker-owned double for the second time in the last three East Anglian racedays looked likely before the Ladies’ Open as Petit Lord, ridden by Angela Rucker, was odds-on favourite.
But the market leader was struggling some way from home and could manage no better than third behind the Worcestershire visitor, Sweet Citizen.
The easiest winner of the meeting was Marble Leader, trained in Bedfordshire, who took advantage of the misfortune that befell many of his 17 opponents to pass the post a distance ahead of any of them in the Restricted Race.