Just two of the six races scheduled for the Essex Farmers & Union Point-To-Point at Marks Tey on Easter Monday took place as the recent heatwave meant that owners of only 11 of the 63 horses entered elected to allow their horses to run.
The racecourse authorities had done all that they could, administering almost 250,000 gallons of water on the course over the seven day period prior to the fixture. But the official going description of ‘good to firm with both firm and good to soft places’ proved what a difficult job it is to produce a consistent racing surface by artificial means, especially on an undulating course like Marks Tey.
Most unfortunately, seven of the 11 runners were declared in just two races, meaning that the other four were all walkovers.
Again, the course authorities tried their very best to give the paying public a good day out, organising impromptu children’s running races and a jockeys’ bucking bronco competition. And, as a gesture of goodwill, it was announced that anyone keeping their racecard from this year’s meeting will be allowed free into next Easter’s fixture on production of the card at the gate.
The two races that did take place were dominated by jockey Dickie Collinson, from Cambridge, who registered his first ever double and insodoing clinched the East Anglia Male Novice Riders Championship.
Remarkably, both victories were achieved aboard horses that he had never ridden before, even at exercise.
The first came in the Intermediate Race atop O’Gara, who ran so badly at Higham on Easter Saturday that trainer Mike Burman, from Biggleswade, decided to retire him. But he had a change of heart when he realised that Ski Dazzle, who walked over in the Ladies’ Open, could do with some company on the horsebox.
Much the outsider of the three runners, O’Gara sat behind a slow pace set by Ambasador and collared that rival after the final fence to score by three-quarters of a length.
Ocean Fou, Collinson’s mount in the Restricted Race, was again third favourite, but this time in a four-runner field. He overtook the front-running market leader, Rockfield, at the fourth last fence and stayed on well to score by 12 lengths.
Ocean Fou is trained at Sutton, near Ely, by Martin Ward, who was notching his third winner of the Easter holiday having scored twice at Higham on Saturday.
Bridget Andrews, who won the bucking bronco competition, also landed her first double in most undesirable fashion as she benefitted from two walkovers. This at least allowed her to emulate her older sister, Gina, who won two races at the National Hunt meeting at Fakenham.
1 Charlies Chance – Andrew Braithwaite Walked over
1 Ballygalley Bob – Bridget Andrews Walked over
1 Caveman – George Greenock Walked over
1 O’Gara – Richard Collinson 4/1
2 Ambasador – Andrew Pennock
3 Toe To Hand – Bridget Andrews 2/5f
Time: 6 mins 52 secs Dists: 3/4L, 1L 3 ran
1 Ocean Fou – Richard Collinson 3/1
2 Rockfield – George Greenock 5/4f
3 Dalmatian – Andrew Pennock
Time: 6 mins 46 secs Dists: 12L, 15L 4 ran
1 Ski Dazzle – Bridget Andrews Walked over
Pony Race 1 -138cm and under
1 Shooting Star – Toby Holland 1/5f
2 Rory – Honor Whyte
3 Hollizan Gloribee – Jasmine Holland
Dists: 20L, 1L 4 ran
Pony Race 2 -148cm and under
1 Doppio Movimento – Charlotte Wyatt 4/5f
2 The Bossy Hobbit – Alex French
3 So Lord – Georgina Friswell
Dists: 5l, a distance 7 ran