by Mike Ashby
East Anglian point-to-point was represented with several runners entered for the hunter ‘chase finale evening at Stratford racecourse and it proved to be a successful evening for the regional contingent.
The main race on the card was the 62nd running of the Horse and Hound Cup Champion Hunter ‘Chase, sponsored this year by Pertemps Network and the trophy went to the David Kemp trained Law Of Gold, ridden by Dale Peters. David trains his small string of horses at Kilverstone near Thetford and jointly owns Law Of Gold with his wife Imogen and possesses a remarkable record at this Stratford meeting having won the prestigious Horse and Hound Cup race with Moroman in 2016. David also saddled Law Of Gold to win the Champion Novice Hunter ‘Chase, for the John Corbet Cup in 2019.
In this year’s main race, Dale Peters was content to track the favourite, recent Punchestown festival winner Bob And Co, partnered by his owner David Maxwell for a couple of circuits before making a decisive move three fences out, of this 3mile 3 furlong contest. Law Of Gold’s jumping, throughout, was impeccable and his stamina then came to the fore and the partnership were not for catching as they jumped the last obstacle sufficiently clear, to repel the renewed effort of the favourite, to win by 5 ½ lengths.
Law Of Gold and Dale Peters (right) in winning action at Horseheath in 2020
Once again led up by James Down, this neat, compact 8yo has now won three hunter ’chases as well as six point-to-points and has the ability to collect several more notable prizes over the coming seasons.
The sixth race on the Stratford card was a novice hunter ‘chase and provided another East Anglian winner. Here the Ruth Pennock trained, The Bonny Boy, was produced by Alice Stevens to take the lead on the run-in and win by a neck, having tracked the leaders for the total duration of the race. The partnership took the shortest, inside route approaching the final fence but was still headed as the main principals jumped the obstacle but The Bonny Boy ran on determinedly, despite receiving a bump from the runner-up Tekap, another East Anglian entrant, ridden by Archie Wright. The Bonny Boy and Tekap had been involved in a similar ding-dong battle, three weeks earlier in a 2 ½ mile point-to-point race at Kinston Blount. The winning margin was also a neck but this time in favour of Tekap, who just held the renewed effort of his rival.
Ruth and Andrew Pennock have once again worked their magic, coupled with a huge element of skill in sourcing and preparing this relatively, young ex-Irish point-to-point recruit. The Bonny Boy’s first run in GB was a winning one, in an Open Maiden race at Revesby Park in Lincolnshire, just two months ago. His previous Irish pointing form, over three seasons, was slightly mixed but did contain six placings from eleven starts but since transferring to the Pennocks, The Bonny Boy has not been out of the first two placings from four appearances. Ruth will be absolutely delighted by his progress and consistency to-date, culminating in this initial hunter ‘chase success, on a very important evening in the pointing calendar.
The Bonny Boy ( far side) and Fiddler Of Dooney in action at High Easter
Other East Anglian representatives in the same race were Fiddler Of Dooney who finished 4th, with Alex Chadwick aboard whilst Bold Gesture was also a runner for the Pennock’s but having led for well over a circuit, his race was run when unseating Charlie Marshall at the second last fence.
Midnight Cowboy represented trainer James Owen and owner Simon Stearn, in the opening contest of the evening, the 2 mile PPSA Open Hunter ‘Chase and jumped the Stratford fences with his normal attacking style. However, in this shorter distance race to what Midnight Cowboy normally contests and with Rupert Stearn in the saddle, the pairing found themselves outpaced in the early stages of the race. As expected though the grey was running on at the end of his race and took third place, overtaking the odds-on favourite on the run-in. After a steward’s enquiry, following an objection by the Clerk of the Scales to the first past the post, Capitaine, Midnight Cowboy was promoted to second place concluding a satisfactory season for the 10yo, which included a victory in a point at Kingston Blount.
So a very successful evening for the East Anglian horses and their delighted connections that were able to witness first-hand and saviour the memories of the occasion, as a limited number of racegoers were in attendance.
Photos courtesy of GDB Photography.co.uk