Becky Ward ended a four-year wait for her first winner when she guided Magic To Do to victory at the Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace Point-To-Point at Northaw on Monday.
The 23-year-old from Sutton, near Ely, has racked up countless other placings since finishing second on her first ride at Higham in March 2005. But she had extra reason to be determined once Magic To Do was left in front by the departure of leader Ski Dazzle at the fifth last in the Club Members Race.
After her mount had held off the favourite, Good Vintage, by three lengths, Ward revealed: “My dad (Martin, the winning trainer) promised me a kitten if I won today. Magic To Do has always been my favourite horse in our yard and the cat will be called ‘Magic’ in his honour!”
There was further reason for the Ward family to celebrate later in the afternoon as a pair of third placings enabled Becky to overhaul Emma Bell (who is unfortunately on the sidelines after suffering a nasty concussion in a fall at High Easter 17 days ago) and grab the East Anglian Novice Lady Riders’ Championship on this, the final day of the season.
Gina Andrews rubber stamped her position as the region’s champion lady rider when notching her 11th winner of the camapign aboard Bunratty’s Sole in the Confined Race. A talented but occasionally wayward individual, Bunratty’s Sole did his best to allow the others to catch up by dawdling up the run-in and had only half a length to spare at the line.
Bunratty’s Sole is trained at Wymondham by Nibby Bloom and is owned by his near-neighbour, Sandra Fryer. The Bloom-Fryer combination was successful once again with the classy Go North in the following race, the Men’s Open, to give the owner her first ever double.
This took Bloom’s tally for the season into double figures, one more than the total of Joe Turner, from Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds, who was on the mark with Leatherbackfollowing a thrilling climax to the Ladies’ Open.
Well ridden by Louise Allan, Leatherback jumped the last fence just a little quicker than Andrews’ mount, Delightful Cliche, and bravely maintained a neck advantage all the way to the winning post.
A change of jockey seemed to transform Kipper, who is trained at Coolinge, near Newmarket, by Sarah Gunn, and the 12-1 outsider sprang a surprise when proving three lengths too strong for Toe To Hand in the Restricted Race.
Kipper is usually partnered by his owner, John Morrey, but he decided to stand aside and thus allowed fellow Newmarket resident, Harry Fowler, a fifth winner of the year.
The season’s finale, the Maiden Race, went the way of the Kent raider Finnow Shan, ridden by Jodie Sole. The final obstacle again proved crucial as the two-length runner-up, Cavanquarter, was upsides when a bad mistake there put paid to his chances.