Saturday’s Easton Harriers Point-To-Point at High Easter could turn out to have been a pivotal moment with regards to the destiny of the various East Anglian Jockeys’ Championships.
With less than a third of the season remaining and next weekend’s Easter double-header looming large, both David Kemp and James Owen drew level with Rupert Stearn at the top of the men’s standings with victories aboard Where’s My Baby and Native Bob. But Stearn nosed back in front when guiding Foulstons Ruler to success in the Club Members Race.
Things look more clearcut in the Ladies’ Championship as Gina Andrews drew two clear of Kelly Smith thanks to her triumph aboard Inaro in the Ladies’ Open. And Gina’s younger sister, Bridget, moved further ahead in the Novice Ladies’ section courtesy of Inishturk landing the Dodson & Horrell Novice Riders’ Race.
Where’s My Baby, who is both trained and ridden by Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford, was troubled by a stomach virus earlier in the season. But a course of antibiotics has done its job and, following their one length defeat of Forget The Ref in the Men’s Open, Kemp nominated the Queen’s Cup at Fakenham on Easter Monday as a possible next target.Native Bob may also prove up to hunter chase class in time, but he has a few rungs of the pointing ladder to climb before then and continued his progress with a six-length score over Cyber Mat in the Restricted Race.Native Bob is trained at Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds (close to where Owen lives), by Joe Turner, while the runner-up deserves particularly credit having kept going well despite helping to set a rapid pace that was probably too strong for the sticky underfoot conditions.
Stearn, from Wymondham, suffered near-misses on both Forget The Ref and Cyber Mat but finally hit the bullseye on Foulstons Ruler, who was winning for the third time this term for owner-trainer-breeder George Cooper, from Raydon, near Ipswich.
Gina Andrews, from Lilley in Hertfordshire, is only 18 years old. But she is well on the way to scooping her third successive East Anglian riding title after Inaro gallopped his three rivals into submission to give Biggleswade trainer Mike Burman (who was also responsible for the runner-up) a 1-2 and delighted owner Philip Perkins, from Great Gransden, an inaugural success.Both horse and rider were bouncing back from adversity. Inaro because he has recovered from the life-threatening attack of colic he suffered over Christmas and Andrews because she shrugged off the effects of a crunching fall earlier in the afternoon.
Inishturk sat at the back of the field for a circuit before making rapid headway to lead and then shrugging off the attentions of the pursuing Thoutmosis with a flying leap at the fourth last. His owner, David Gibbon, from Great Bentley near Colchester, explained: “He hates being in behind and needs to run fresh, that is why he hasn’t been out since January.”
The opening Maiden race witnessed a first win for two years for veteran Sussex-based owner-trainer-rider Heather Kemp as the none-too-resolute Caged Tiger held off the front-running Saddlers Blaze by half a length.