Caveman proved beyond doubt that stamina is his forte when running away with the four mile Essex Grand National at the East Essex Point-To-Point at Marks Tey, near Colchester, on Sunday.
Trained at Wymondham, near Norwich, by Nigel Bloom and beautifully ridden by George Greenock, Caveman stayed on resolutely up the final hill to beat Can’t Touch This by three lengths and register his sixth course victory.
Bloom explained afterwards that the marathon distance had been the least of his worries beforehand. A potential lack of fitness had been much more of a concern as a bruised fetlock had caused Caveman to miss an intended start earlier in the month, not to mention ten days of work.
Caroline Fryer, another Wymondham-based handler, made it 17 victories in the 16 months since she began training when saddling her first ever treble.
This is an achievement of some note, even though all three triumphs were in races that effectively fell into the laps of Fryer’s representatives. First Maranach, who is owned by Great Bentley’s David Gibbon, was left clear when the favourite, Mambo Ruler, suffered a sadly fatal leg injury in the closing stages of the Hunt Race.
Then none of the other ten entries deigned to take on Defying Gravity in the Ladies Open race, leaving him to walk over. Finally, almost five and a half hours after the meeting had begun with three hotly-contested pony races, Ballygalley Bob took advantage when his main rival, New Alco, ran out at the fifth fence in the concluding Novice Riders’ Race.
A second trainer in top form is Andrew Pennock, from Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds. Just seven days after landing his inaugural double at Cottenham, he repeated the dose here, with Homeleigh Sir in the Maiden Race and Eileensbirthday in the Restricted Race.
Both were ably piloted by Ben Rivett, from Sharrington in Norfolk, who thus took his seasonal tally to seven winners – his previous personal for an entire campaign had been just three.
Homeleigh Sir is owned and was bred by Emily Clover, from Stratford St Mary, and was her first success since this horse’s mother, Give It A Bash, had prevailed at the same venue way back in 1997. Pennock was quick to pass on the credit for this victory to Jade Pringle, from Barningham, near Thetford, who rides Homeleigh Sir every morning.
Eileensbirthday has only been with Pennock for six weeks after her owner, Ellie Church, from Thriplow, near Cambridge, broke her pelvis and consequently had to hand over the training responsibilities.
The Confined Race may have had only three runners but all three were in the air together jumping the final fence and at the line there was just two necks separating first-paced Kells Castle from last-placed Steady Counsel.
Kells Castle is owned by Jeffrey Bowles, from Rushall, near Diss, was a first riding winner in over seven years for his now Irish-based daughter, Annie, and is trained at Chediston in Suffolk by John Ibbott.
1 Maranach – Bridget Andrews 7/4
2 Onyx D’Ace – Dicky Collinson
Time 6-34 Dists: Dist 3 ran Mambo Ruler 1/3f (PU)
1 Holmleigh Sir – Ben Rivett 11/8f
2 Filibuster – Bridget Andrews
3 Baltic Blue – Carey Williamson
Time 6-49 Dists: Nk, 5L 5 ran
1 Kells Castle – Annie Bowles 6/4
2 Argentato – Bridget Andrews 4/5f
3 Steady Counsel – Rebecca Ward
Time 6-30 Dists: Nk, Nk 3 ran
Mens Open (4 Mile Essex National)
1 Caveman – George Greenock Ev’s f
2 Can’t Touch This – James Owen
3 Owenacurra – Tom David
Time 7-57 Dists: 3L, 3L 6 ran
1 Defying Gravity – Bridget Andrews Walked Over
1 Eileensbirthday – Ben Rivett 5/1
2 Chapmans Peak – Rupert Stearn
Time 6-36 Dists: 6L 4 ran 2 finished Bach To The Wall 8/11f (UR) 1 jump omitted, damaged wing.
1 Balleygalley Bob – Leo Mahon 5/4
2 Thoutmosis – Rosie Thorogood
Time 6-40 Dists: Dist 4 ran 2 finished New Alco 4/7f (RO)