Richard Morgan-Evans, from Heydon, near Aylsham, put behind him a long spell of injuries when partnering his second ever winner, almost four years after his first, at the Dunston Harriers Point-To-Point at Ampton on Sunday.
Morgan-Evans, 22, had made numerous visits to hospital, once even arriving by air ambulance after a Fakenham fall, since his initial success, back in May 2002. But for once the gods were smiling on him as his mount in the Novice Riders’ Race, Homme de Fer, would have been partnered by George Greenock but for a pre-Christmas hunting accident which saw Greenock break his leg.
Morgan-Evans seized the opportunity with both hands and Homme de Fer, who is trained at Wymondham by Nigel Bloom, seemed set for a comfortable success when going clear jumping the final fence. But Kelly Smith conjured a super-charged finish from Parsonhumfrywebber and Homme de Fer only had a neck to spare at the winning post.
David Kemp, a more established name in local Point-To-Point circles, made a superb start to his 2006 season when lifting the first two races on the card aboard Cantarinho and Comeonourfella.
Cantarinho, who enjoyed a fabulous five-win 2004 prior to a barren 2005, got back in the groove with a three-length defeat of McAttack in the Confined Race. Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford, said: “Cantarinho was never quite right last year but was beaten by some good horses. He wants fast ground and we will keep him to Points for the time being – we might take in a Fakenham Hunter Chase later in the season.”
Kemp was on the mark again in the following Open Maiden Race aboard the recent 1,900 guineas purchase, Comeonourfella. Owned in partnership with Philippa Hamilton and Sally Cross, this Shernazar gelding proved ten lengths too swift for Punta Cana.
Madmidge, last year’s East Anglian Champion Horse, was widely expected to complete a Kemp treble in the five-runner Men’s Open Race. But the bookies, who sent Madmidge off the 2-5 favourite, had failed to take into account the outsider of the field, Philson-Warrior, who responded to an all-out drive from Newmarket’s Matt Smith to hold off Madmidge by a head and grab the spoils.
Katie Thory, who trains the winner for Soham-based owners Roy Green and Brian Sayer near Peterborough, reported afterwards: “I knew Philson-Warrior was well because when I was riding him on Friday he spooked at a lorry and put me in a dyke!”
Trainer Robert Abrey, from Wretham, near Thetford, continued his perfect start to the season when Cosmic Sky ran away with the Restricted Race under Rupert Stearn. Abrey, who won with Epop at Higham a week earlier, was on hand to greet the headstrong front-runner after he had stormed to a 15 length defeat of Kalypso de Laugere to give owner-breeder Major Richard Wilson, from Great Hockham, a moment of great pleasure.The remaining two races on the card both went to long-distance travellers. Little Brown Bear, trained in Worcestershire by Diana Williams and stylishly ridden by her daughter, Jane, got the better of Millenium Wayby a length in a good finish to the Ladies’ Open.
And the reigning national champion jockey, Richard Burton, who had got the ball rolling for the current campaign with a treble at Barbury Castle 24 hours earlier, made it a four-winner-weekend when driving Shropshire raider, Rebel Army, to a half length triumph over Lord Valnic in the Intermediate Race.
Race One (Confined Hunts Race):
1 D Kemp and Mrs M Harrison’s Cantarinho (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 Mrs H Colletta’s McAttack (Essex and Suffolk) (N Moore),
3 Mrs P King’s Dunmanus Bay (Suffolk) (M Mackley).
Also: Westfield John (4). Three lengths, half a length. 6.37. SP 2-5 fav.
Race Two (Open Maiden Race):
1 D Kemp and Mrs P Hamilton’s Comeonourfella (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 The Punta’s Pals Partnership’s Punta Cana (Essex and Suffolk) (A Merriam),
3 Countess Cathcart’s Absolutely Barking (Dunston Harriers) (N Bloom).
Also: Nottoladylike (4), Corkscrew King (5), Clonshire King (pu), Malahide (pu), Mandanjoe (pu), Sovereign Quest (ur), Tuareg (f). Ten lengths, 20 lengths. 6.35. SP 3-1 (Absolutely Barking 5-4 fav).
Race Three (Intermediate Race):
1 J Beasley, G Hibbert and Mrs M Renaghan’s Rebel Army (Albrighton) (R Burton),
2 T Bryce’s Lord Valnic (Suffolk) (M Mackley),
3 The Sporting Endeavour Partner’s Tartar Sabre (Waveney Harriers) (Miss L Barrett-Nobbs).
Also: Lady Baronette (4), Tupgill turbo (5), Colonel Conca (6), Hi Up Brenkley (pu), Judge Reilly (f). Half a length, 5l. 6.30. SP 4-5 fav.
Race Four (Ladies Open Race):
1 G Barlow’s Little Brown Bear (Albrighton Woodland) (Miss J Williams),
2 Mrs C Taylor’s (Millenium Way (Ashford Valley) (owner),
3 J M Turner’s Fair Exchange (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner).
Also: Dick McCarthy (4), Lucky Master (5). One length, eight lengths. 6.31. SP evens fav.
Race Five (Men’s Open Race):
1 R Green and B Sayer’s Philson-Warrior (Fitzwilliam) (M Smith),
2 D Kemp, B King and Miss C Kemp’s Madmidge (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
3 J M Turner’s Dunrig (Suffolk) (J Owen).
Also: Shoemaker (4), Baron Bernard (pu). Head, 8l. 6.35. SP 12-1 (Madmidge 2-5 fav).
Race Six (Restricted Race):
1 R Abrey and Major R Wilson’s Cosmic Sky (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
2 K Smith and Mrs E Young’s Kalypso De Laugere (Grafton) (R Burton),
3 J M Turner’s John The Mole (Suffolk) (J Owen).
Also: Second Thoughts (4), Pampered Lad (5), Baron Halebop (pu), Donrico (pu), Lisronagh Cross (pu). Fifteen lengths, five lengths. 6.32. SP 4-1 (Kalypso De Laugere 6-4 fav).
Race Seven (PPORA Club Members’ Race, for novice riders):
1 Countess Cathcart’s Homme De Fer (West Norfolk (R Morgan-Evans),
2 M Burman’s Parsonhumfrywebber (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Miss K Smith),
3 A Howland-Jackson’s Village Copper (Suffolk) (C Wallis).
Also: Maltbyson (4), Croft Court (5), Noble Affair (6), Libido (7), Tis She (8), Midnight Coup (ur). Neck, 12l. 6.38. SP 9-4 favourite.