A superb Dunston Harriers Point-To-Point at Ampton yesterday (Sunday) was witnessed by a record crowd and saw high quality racing throughout and popular local victories in three of the seven contests.

Best received of the trio was Tea Box’s win in the closing Countryside Alliance Novice Riders Race as it gave a first ever success in the saddle for 22-year-old David Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford.

A final year Agribusiness Management student at Newcastle University, Kemp first came across Tea Box when he was riding out for Northumberland trainer Pauline Robson. Impressed, he persuaded his father, Malcolm, to buy the horse and this was the result.

Given a well-judged front-running ride, Tea Box set a good pace but he seemed sure to be overhauled when Garrison Friendly drew level at the last of 19 fences. But the 11-year-old pulled away again on the flat and was a length and a half in front at the line.

“Pauline told me that he always needs his first run of the season so I was very worried about him lasting home,” a delighted Kemp admitted. “But fortunately noone took us on for the lead and he found extra when the other horse got to him on the run-in.”

Tight finishes were the order of the day and it was the final fence that made all the difference in the opening Confined Race, a prodigious leap from The Rural Dean meaning that he got the better of the blundering Tom de Savoie by two lengths.

Trained at Wymondham by Mike Bloom and ridden by his son, Nigel, The Rural Dean has now won all three of his starts since arriving in Norfolk from Wales 18 months ago. The timing of this triumph could not have been better, as owner Julia Howlett, from Rockland All Saints near Attleborough, was acting as the Secretary of the meeting for the first time.

Mrs Howlett was particularly pleased as it meant that she was able to keep one of the decanters that she had picked out from Tombland Jewellers to give as mementoes to all winning owners!

The winning connections were even closer to home in the first of two Maiden Races, as Millenium Way, who prevailed by a neck from Nubro following a thrilling tussle, is owned and trained by the Turner family, who own the course and live at nearby Ampton Hall.

“I was going to have twenty pounds on Millenium Way,” admitted Joe Turner, “but our runner in the first race ran so badly that I though better of it! We bought him off Oliver Sherwood and he really needs better ground.”

The Mixed Open was one of the classiest races ever run at the course and, after a catastrophic error at the second fence by hot favourite McHattie, the finish was fought out by two other useful recruits from the National Hunt ranks, Even Flow and Storm of Gold. Trained at Grantham by Antonia Bealby and ridden by Joe Docker, Even Flow came out on top by just half a length.

Lizzie Neyens and Paul Keane notched notable firsts in the Intermediate Race and second Maiden respectively. Neyens, 25, from Radlett in Hertfordshire, broke both her riding and training duck when Our Man Flin beat Blackchesters by five lengths.

And Keane, who five years earlier had his inaugural winner as a jockey at this very venue, got off the mark as a trainer when Early Morning Call lost his maiden status.

The victorious pilot, David Crosse, is a name to remember as he later performed a miraculous recovery on McHattie. Already one of Britain’s top amateurs, he is sure to turn professional before too long.

Another name for the notebooks is Euro Alert, who made an impressive British debut in the Restricted Race. Trained near Northampton by Bill Warner and ridden by Stuart Morris, he looks up to winning in better company.


Race One (Confined Hunts Race):

1 S Howlett and Mrs J Howlett’s The Rural Dean (Dunston Harriers) (N Bloom),

2 W Barber’s Tom De Savoie (West Norfolk) (W Wales),

3 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson’s Village Copper (Suffolk) (C Ward-Thomas).

Also: Novatara (4), Royal Artic (5), Dalligan (ur), Monyman (pu), Parsonhumfrywebber (ur). Two lengths, three lengths. 6.54. W £2.40. SP 7-4 (Tom De Savoie 6-4 fav).

Race Two (Open Maiden Race, Division One):

1 J M Turner’s Millenium Way (Suffolk) (A Sansome),

2 M Smith’s Nubro (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (A Hickman),

3 Mrs P O’Connor’s Rushes Lane (Fernie) (T Lane).

Also: Maharajah (4), Can’t Smile (pu), Erin’s Surprise (f), King’s Mandate (pu), Little Bonza (pu), Midnight Royal (pu), Professor Tag (pu), Sharp Madam (pu), Three Spires (ro), Thunderbird (pu). Neck, 15 lengths. 7.06. W £4.40. SP 7-2 (Nubro 5-2 fav).

Race Three (Open Maiden Race, Division Two):

1 C Hazelwood’s Early Morning Call (Avon Vale) (D Crosse),

2 Mrs B Abraham’s Light The Sky (Quorn) (E Andrews),

3 M Scotney, D Nightingale and C Harrison’s Jekyll And Hyde (Pytchley) (J Docker).

Also: Kingfisher Star (4), Bannagh Express (pu), Great Blaze (pu), Le Garcon Gris (pu), Schoodic Point (pu), Twelve Club (ur). Five lengths, two lengths. 7.12. W £2.50. SP 5-2 (Jekyll And Hyde 4-5 fav).

Race Four (Intermediate Race):

1 H Bond’s Our Man Flin (Vale of Aylesbury) (Miss E Neynes),

2 I Naylor’s Blackchesters (Fernie) (A Bealby),

3 Mrs D Surman’s Derryair (Vale of Aylesbury) (J Owen).

Also: Cherokee Run (4), Contingency (5), Black Book (pu), Camden Kid (pu), Mister Audi (pu), New Ross (pu). Five lengths, 10 lengths. 7.02. W £10. SP 16-1 (Contingency 6-4 fav).

Race Five (Mixed Open Race):

1 Mrs C Price’s Even Flow (Belvoir) (J Docker),

2 R Cook’s Storm Of Gold (Surrey Union) (D Dunsdon),

3 R Hunnisett’s Copper Thistle (Quorn) (owner).

Also: Hatcham Boy (4), Back Bar (pu), Bold Statement (pu), Eden’s Close (pu), Glaisnock Lad (pu), McHattie (pu), Viking

Buoy (pu). Half a length, a distance. 6.55. W £13. SP 5-1 (McHattie 6-4 fav).

Race Six (Restricted Race):

1 Mrs J Wilson’s Euro Alert (Pytchley) (S Morris),

2 Mrs S Coney’s Via De La Valle (Blankney) (Mrs J Dawson),

3 Mrs L Harrington’s Barton Nic (Avon Vale) (R Bliss).

Also: Rip Kirby (4), Harry Tartar (5), Ell Gee (6), Bakmalad (pu), Campbellhill (pu), Caromisu (ur), Changing Fashion (pu), Gerej (pu), Nowornever (pu), Rio’s Lord (pu), Tap The Father (pu). Five lengths, three lengths. 7.08. W £2.50. SP 6-4 fav.

Race Seven (Countryside Alliance Members’ Novice Riders Race):

1 M Kemp’s Tea Box (Suffolk) (D Kemp),

2 N Wilson’s Garrison Friendly (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (owner),

3 M Grange’s Leap Frog (Fitzwilliam) (owner).

Also: Pongo Waring (4), Borrow Mine (5), Henry Bruce (pu), Tarthooth (ur), Time Enough (pu). One and a half lengths, 15 lengths. 7.13. W £1.80. SP 4-5 fav.