Veteran jockey Angela Rucker and her mount Sagalyrique made up for the absence of Victoria Pendleton by landing a thrilling Ladies Open Race for the fourth year in a row at the Cambridge University United Hunts Club Point-To-Point at Cottenham, near Cambridge, on Sunday.
With Pendleton choosing to make her steeplechasing debut in Devon instead (where she pulled up her solitary ride), the vastly more experienced Rucker, from Droitwich in Worcestershire, conjured an incredible late burst from Sagalyrique to overhaul the hot favourite, Penmore Mill, close to the line and score by a neck.
Sagalyrique looked well beaten when Penmore Mill, a five-time hunter chase winner, powered into a five-length advantage rounding the final bend. But a brilliant jump at the final fence put him back in with a chance and he dug deep into his reserves of stamina to snatch the prize in the last few strides.
Penmore Mill leads, tracked by Sagalyrique (plain dark blue cap) with a circuit to run
The best that East Anglian competitors could manage on a top quality afternoon of racing was a pair of second places.
Much like Penmore Mill in the previous race, Sin Bin, representing Wymondham trainer Sandra Fryer, seemed to have the Subaru Restricted Race in the bag when scooting into a clear lead after the second last fence.
But he then had no answer to the renewed effort of the front-running Tulsa and eventually only just held on for second place in front of Nashville Tommy.
Tulsa leads Miss Alice Jones in the Subaru Restricted
Tulsa’s triumph completed a superb double for his trainer, Leicestershire-based Tommy Morgan, and jockey, Sam Davies-Thomas, as earlier they had teamed up to land the first race of the 2015-16 season, the two and a half mile PPORA Club Race, with Lough Inch.
This fast-improving eight-year-old also adopted trailblazing tactics yet looked a sitting duck for the favourite, Storm Lantern, ridden by the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen, at the penultimate obstacle. But Lough Inch proved impossible to pass, storming up the run-in to register a three length victory.
Lough Inch (Sam Davies-Thomas) leads Play The Ace (yellow cap, Dickie Collinson)
The other East Anglian near-miss came in the closing two and a half mile Maiden courtesy of Rupert Wells, trained at Timworth Green, near Bury St Edmunds, by Andrew Pennock.
He found just one too good for him in the shape of a raider from East Sussex, Daidaidai, who was a relatively unfancied 10-1 chance and paid out at an incredible 50-1 on the Tote.
Daidaidai (right) jumps alongside Rupert Wells
The bookies may have been happy with that result, but they were smarting following the preceding Maiden when Lilbitluso, a visitor from Cheshire who had been gambled on from 6-1 down to even money favourite in some places, won by half the length of the home straight.
Lilbitloso (Gillon Crow) is way out in front at the final fence
The best calibre race of the day was the Mens Open in which Consigliere, trained in Oxfordshire by Alan Hill and ridden by his son, Joe, did not need to be hard ridden to register an easy ten-length victory over Executive Benefit.
Consigliere (left, Joe Hill) jumps a fence in tandem with Makadamia (Sam Waley-Cohen)
PPORA Club Members Race 2 ½ Miles
1st Lough Inch Sam Davies-Thomas 3/1
2nd Storm Lantern Sam Waley-Cohen 7/4 Fav
3rd Hazy Tom Chris Barber 8/1
Time 4 mins 28 secs Dists: 3L,7L 9 ran
1st Consigliere Joe Hill 1/2 Fav
2nd Executive Benefit Gillon Crow 3/1
3rd Brunswick Gold Stuart Robinson 10/1
Time 5-53 Dists:10L, 12L 8 ran
1st Sagalyrique Angela Rucker 7/2
2nd Penmore Mill Hannah Watson Evens Fav
3rd Cottage Oak Gina Andrews 6/4
Time 6-01 Dists: Nk, 6L 5 ran
1st Tulsa Sam Davies-Thomas 5/1
2nd Sin Bin Gina Andrews 11/10 Fav
3rd Nashville Tommy Edward Austin 4/1
Time 6-05 Dists: 5L, ½ L 7 ran
Open Maiden 3 Miles
1st Lilbitluso Gillon Crow 6/4Fav
2nd Rudolf Sam Davies-Thomas 4/1
3rd Floreat Tim Donworth 5/1
Time 5-58 Dists: Dist, 4L 12 ran
4,5 and 6 Year Olds Maiden 2 ½ Miles
1st Daidaidai Wayne Russell 10/1
2nd Rupert Wells Richard Collinson 4/1
3rd Scorpion Star Sam Davies-Thomas 3/1
Time 4-38 Dists: 4L, 3L 15 ran