Ampton hosted an outstanding afternoon of Point-To-Point racing – many spectators were suggesting it was the best that the Bury St Edmunds has ever staged – as 77 horses contested Sunday’s Dunston Harriers fixture.
Four of the eight races went to East Anglian connections, with top billing going to Caroline Fryer, who trained her first ever winner with only her second runner when Balleygalley Bobtook the opening Club Members Race under a fine ride from Rupert Stearn, from Wymondham.
Fryer, also from Wymondham, said: “I was really confident that Balleygalley Bob was on top form when he ran away with his exercise rider, Jazz Yeoman, during the week and we might go hunter chasing with him now.”
It was a highly popular result as Stearn’s father, Simon, is the Clerk of The Course and worked so hard along with Robert Abrey and Brad Webb, among others, to get it in immaculate condition in double quick time following the recent cold snap.
And Balleygalley Bob is part owned by David Taylor, from Carleton Rode, who is a member of the Dunston Harriers committee and was both a race sponsor and spent the afternoon operating the numbers board.
Mid Div And Creep made a comfortable winning seasonal debut in the Ladies’ Open race and continues to be the darling of East Anglian point fans despite the retirement of her former trainer, Derek Harding-Jones.
Still owned by Tony and Karen Exall, from Hatfield Heath, but now trained in Oxfordshire by Alan Hill, Mid Div And Creep was three lengths too strong for the former Cheltenham Foxhunters’ winner, Amicelli.
The biggest shock result of the afternoon came in the Restricted Race when Jolly Dancer came from a different parish to catch Elite Beneficial at the final fence. Jolly Dancer is trained in Gloucestershire but was ridden by James Horton, who is currently living in Newmarket where he works for the doyen of flat trainers, Sir Mark Prescott. 17 of the 26 entries for the Maiden Race were declared, meaning the race had to be divided. And Division Two brought the final local success as although the all-the-way winner, Up And Away, is trained in Northamptonshire, he is owned by Philip Perkins, from Great Gransden, near Cambridge.
The other Division, and probably the stronger of the two, went to the Kent-trained visitor, Vote For Doodle.
The Men’s Open was a very high class affair. Foulstons Ruler, owned, bred and trained at Raydon, near Hadleigh, by George Cooper was running in an Open race for the first time and lost little in defeat when, despite a monumental blunder at the last fence, he finished third to the former top class National Hunt horse, Kornati Kid.
Divine Intavention provided a welcome tonic for his sick owner-trainer, Sue Wilson, from near Banbury, when he clocked the fastest time of the day in the Intermediate Race.
And Teeton Dazzler was a second successful Northants challenger when taking the closing Novice Riders Race.