ichard Burton was the star attraction of a hugely successful Dunston Harriers Point-To-Point at Ampton on Sunday.
No, not the great actor back from the grave, but his 27-year-old namesake who became National Champion Point-To-Point Jockey for the first time in 2003 and showed just why with two stylish victories at the Suffolk course.
Burton made the long trip down from his home in Shropshire because, in his words, Ampton ‘offered the best ground in the country. Everywhere else is firm.’His journey proved fruitful as he guided Special Friend to a very easy win in the first division of the Maiden, then doubled up when Hot Toddy proved three lengths too strong for the persistent Fine And Dandy in the Restricted Race.But Paddy For Paddy – the best fancied of Burton’s three mounts – always found things happening a little too quickly for him in the Men’s Open Race and had to settle for a never dangerous fourth place.
It was a day for long-distance raiders. Both Special Friend and Hot Toddy are trained near Frome in Somerset by former top National Hunt jockey Guy Landau, while Pendle Hill, the winner of the Men’s Open, hails from near Rye on the Sussex coast.
Ridden by James Owen after his intended pilot, Andrew Hickman, had sustained a minor neck injury in an earlier fall, Pendle Hill always just held the upper hand in a thrilling tussle withFair Exchange and Carthago.
The Ladies’ Open Race was marred by a very uncharacteristic fall by Village Copper which resulted in a short delay to proceedings as his jockey, Hannah Grissell, was taken to hospital. Thankfully, although badly concussed, Grissell’s injuries were not thought to be serious.
The race produced a surprise 20-1 winner in the shape of the old-timer, Kincora, who is trained at Folkestone by his owner-rider, Lisa Stock. He held on gamely in the closing stages from Bush Hill Bandit and Andsuephi, both of whom shaped well on their seasonal debuts.
The second division of the Maiden produced a memorable moment for jockey Godfrey Maundrell, from Marlborough in Wiltshire, who registered the 100th Pointing victory of a riding career that stretches back over 30 years when guiding Rhythm King to a facile defeat of the promising Cosmic Sky.
The day began on a high note for owner-trainer Wilf Tolhurst, from Langham near Colchester, and jockey Nibby Bloom, from Wymondham, when Minino took the Confined Race.
Tolhurst describes Minino as ‘as a lovely chap but bad for the nervous system’ owing to the gelding’s tendency to refuse to race. He was as good as gold at the start on this occasion and held on resolutely to defeat Colonel Conca and Rathnally Park in a tight finish.
Paul Chinery, from Great Yeldham in Essex, landed the closing Novice Riders’ Race on the horse that he calls ‘Mr Reliable’, Royal Action. Out of the first three only twice in his previous 13 starts, Royal Action came home eight lengths in front of Quick Response.
Finally, there was a second Sussex-trained winner on the card in the shape of the Chris Gordon-ridden Teach Altra, who came home eight lengths clear of Holy Moses in the Restricted Race.
Overall, it was surely the best meeting ever staged at this venue. A large crowd (admission receipts created a new record) basked in glorious sunshine and 79 runners contested the eight races.
Race One (Confined Hunts Race):
1 B J Kennedy’s Minino (Essex Farmers and Union) (N Bloom),
2 A G Howland-Jackson’s Colonel Conca (Suffolk) (A Braithwaite),
3 Mrs G Clements and D Harding-Jones’ Rathnally Park (Puckeridge) (C Gordon).
Also: Wilton Bridge (4), Avondale Illusion (pu), Lone Star (pu), Lord Valnic (ro), Mai Point (pu), Prologue (pu), Westfield John (pu). 10 ran. One length, one and a half lengths. 6m 24s. W £5.40. SP 6-1 (Lord Valnic 5-2fav).
Race Two (Open Maiden Race Division One):
1 Mrs J Thornton’s Special Friend (Wheatland) (R Burton),
2 Mr M and Mrs S Haydon’s Lindron (Mid Surrey) (P Bull),
3 J K Buckle’s Artic Snip (Essex and Suffolk) (N Moore).
Also: Shallee Term (4), Sharp Sarah (5), Artic Sun (6), Charango Star (ur), Hi Tech Man (pu), Pendils Charm (pu), Pernickety King (pu), What Next (ur), 11 ran. 10 lengths, one length. 6m 38s. W £2.80. SP 2-1fav.
Race Three (Open Maiden Race Division Two):
1 G C Maundrell’s Rhythm King (Avon Vale), (owner),
2 R Abrey and Major R Wilson’s Cosmic Sky (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
3 Mrs A Villar and P Beaton-Brown’s Golden Shred (Suffolk) (A Braithwaite)
. Also: Ginger Bug (4), Bright Torino (pu), Dolitanlad (pu), Gunner Be True (pu), Manhatton Storm (f), Morph (f), Sleeping Panther (pu). 10 ran. 15 lengths, a distance. 6m 29s. W £5.00. SP 9-4 (Morph evens fav).
Race Four (Intermediate Race):
1 Miss H Hinckley’s Hot Toddy (Wheatland) (R Burton),
2 J M Turner’s Fine and Dandy (Suffolk) (J Owen),
3 B Belchem’s Aughmor River (East Essex) (N Moore).
Also: Glenmont (4), Colonel Carats (5), Airoski (ur), Jack Hackett (pu), Kirkharle (pu), Viking Lily (pu). 9 ran. Three lengths, eight lengths. 6m 30s. W £2.60. SP 9-4 (Airoski evens fav).
Race Five (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Ms L Stock’s Kincora (E Kent) (Owner),
2 Mrs A M Hays Bush Hill Bandit (Thurlow) (Miss A Stenett),
3 Mrs I Hodge and Mr and Mrs A Hodge’s Andsuephi (E Anglian Bloodhounds) (Mrs S Hodge).
Also: Sea Tarth (4), Le Prince (5), Dunrig (pu), Jolly Minster (f), Village Copper (f). 8 ran. Two lengths, two lengths. 6m 25s. W £25.00. SP 20-1 (Jolly Minster 7-4fav).
Race Six (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mrs K Digweed’s Pendle Hill (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (J Owen),
2 Mrs M G Sheppard’s Fair Exchange (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (P Taiano),
3 Mrs S Cartridge and Miss T McCurrich’s Carthago (Worcester) (M Harris).
Also: Paddy for Paddy (4), Fatalistic (pu), King of the Dawn (ur), Little Worsall (ur), Woodward Street (pu). 8 ran. Three lengths, half a length. 6m 26s. W £14.00. SP 10-1 (Paddy for Paddy 4-6fav).
Race Seven (Restricted Race):
1 M J Roberts’ Teach Altra (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (C Gordon),
2 E Cantillon’s Holy Moses (E Anglian Bloodhounds) (G Wigley),
3 T Marks and N Dean’s Carlton Brae (Fitzwilliam) (P Hall).
Also: Filou Du Bois (4), Josh’s Choice (5), Street Smart (6), Glad All Over (7), Maharajah (8), General Confusion (9), Jacob’s Choice (pu), Lambrini King (ur), Red Square Prince (pu), Sootsir (ur), Teeton Fizz (pu). 14 ran. Eight lengths, three lengths. 6m 34s. W £27.00. SP 7-1 (Jacob’s Choice 2-1fav).
Race Eight (PPORA Members’ Race for Novice Riders):
1 A G Chinery’s Royal Action (East Essex) (P Chinery),
2 M J Robert’s Quick Response (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (Miss B Donnelly),
3 Mr and Mrs M Haydon and Miss C Haydon’s Brown Chieftan (Southdown and Eridge) (Miss C Haydon).
Also: Garrison Friendly (4), Optimistic Thinker (5), J-Okay (ro), Legal Storm (ur), Monsukh (pu), Pampered Gale (ur). 9 ran. Eight lengths, 20 lengths. 6m 33s. W £2.50. SP 9-4fav.