Graham Bishop fulfilled a 30-year ambition when Collective Opinion landed the Older Horse Maiden at the Easton Harriers Point-To-Point at High Easter on Sunday.
Bishop, a logistics manager from Six Mile Bottom, near Newmarket, is a lifelong fan of the sport and rarely misses a meeting. So he was a proud man as he took his place in the winner’s enclosure for the first time alongside Collective Opinion, whom he owns in partnership with John Ridge and is trained and ridden by David Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford.
Bishop has needed patience as Irish import Collective Opinion suffered a leg injury a year ago which delayed his British debut. And even when triumph seemed assured, the eight-year-old seemed determined to throw it away, swerving violently to his right and slowing to such an extent that Back To Nature was able to close to within a length and a half at the line.
Much-needed rain meant for a soggy afternoon’s racing, but the downpour came just in time for Rathnally Park, who clocked the fastest time of the day in trouncing his eight rivals under Matt Mackley in the Club Members’ Race.
Owner Derek Harding-Jones, from North Weald, admitted: Rathnally Park has had a tendon problem and we were not going to risk him on fast ground. We only changed our minds at 8.30 this morning.
Derek’s son, Perry, who looks after the training of the Henbit gelding, added: We think a lot of him – he is an Open race horse – and we only ran him because we thought he could win on the bridle.
The other five races all went to visitors from outside East Anglia – three to raiders from south of the Thames and two to runners from the Banbury yard of Bradley Clarke.
After saddling the first double of his training career, Clarke said: It has taken us three hours to get here, but I would have happily come five!
Both Clarke’s winners, Daraz Rose in the Young Horse Maiden and Lord Attica in the Restricted, were partnered by the five-time national champion lady rider, Polly Gundry, who had ventured all the way from her home near Bristol.
She needed all her skills aboard Daraz Rose, as the mare was down on her nose at the first fence and then walked through the second. Gundry gave her mount time to regain her confidence and, after hitting the front at the second last, got the better of Buster Mai by half a length in a driving finish. But the best ride of the day came from Caroline Taylor, who judged the pace to perfection on Minino in the Ladies Open. Allowing the leaders a 30-length start as they set a brutally fast gallop, the Ashford-based owner-trainer-rider picked off her eight opponents one by one as she came through to score by an easy four lengths.Chris Gordon produced another excellent display in the saddle to make just about every yard aboard Little Herman in the Mens Open. And the card came to a dramatic conclusion when Altareekcrashed out at the second last when 20 lengths clear, handing victory in the Dodson & Horrell Moderate Race to Indoux and Peter Bull.
Race One (High Easter Hunts Club Members’ Race):
1 D Harding-Jones and Mrs G Clements’ Rathnally Park (Essex) (M Mackley),
2 N Padfield’s Lisnagar Hide (Essex) (C Gordon),
3 J Flint’s Pampered Lad (Essex) (A Pennock).
Also: Pampered Gale (4), Scalby Croft (5), Infidel (6), Coxwell Snowstorm (7), Moss Campian (8), Skirmishing (ur). A distance, five lengths. 6.50. W £2.80. SP 4-5 fav.
Race Two (Open Maiden Race – 5, 6 and 7-y-o):
1 Mr and Mrs L Robins’ Daraz Rose (Bicester with Whaddon Chase) (Miss P Gundry),
2 The Newick Park Partnership’s Buster Mai (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (P Hall),
3 The Ease Partnership’s Munster’s Best (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (J Owen).
Also: Fair Promise (4), Draconian (5), Classic Additions (pu), Highland Dancer (pu), Island Fortress (pu), Missile (pu), Munch Munch (pu), Sigma Three Gee (f), Trust Me (f). Half a length, five lengths. 6.56. W £9. SP 6-1 (Sigma Three Gee 4-5 fav).
Race Three (Open Maiden Race – 8-y-o and over):
1 J Ridge and G Bishop’s Collective Opinion (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 H Jarvis and D Muir’s Back To Nature (Vine and Craven) (N Harris),
3 Mrs W Ward’s Memsahib Ki Behan (Granta Harriers) (M Mackley).
Also: Atlantic Drift (4), Baltic Lake (5), Izzuthefox (pu), San Malo (ref), Worth A Shot (pu). One and a half lengths, a distance. 7.08. W £2. SP 2-1 (Back To Nature 4-5 fav).
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mrs I Colderick and S Taylor’s Little Herman (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (C Gordon),
2 A Howland-Jackson’s Gatchou Mans (Suffolk) (A Merriam),
3 J Weatherby’s Native Hunter (Cottesmore) (M Mackley).
Also: Dunrig (4), Bold Hunter (5), Bard Of Drumcoo (pu), Lantern Leader (pu), Mister Graham (pu). Two and a half lengths, three lengths. 6.56. W £5. SP 10-1 (Bard Of Drumcoo evens fav).
Race Five (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Mrs C Taylor’s Minino (Ashford Valley) (owner),
2 Mrs A Blaker’s Exodus (Mid Surrey Farmers Drag) (Miss A Sansom),
3 Mr and Mrs A Kemp’s Killerine (Grafton) (Mrs H Kemp).
Also: Nicodemus (4), Celtic Duke (pu), Kirov King (ur), Macfin (pu), Multi Franchise (pu), Sing High (pu). Four lengths, eight lengths. 6.51. W £2.50. SP 4-1 (Sing High 5-2 fav).
Race Six (Restricted Race):
1 The Clockhouse Racing Club’s Lord Attica (Bicester with Whaddon Chase) (Miss P Gundry),
2 A Ward-Thomas’ Tellem Noting (Hampshire) (P Hall),
3 D Harding-Jones’ Bewleys Newlands (Puckeridge) (M Mackley).
Also: Second Thoughts (4), Kingfisher Star (5), Berewold (pu), Currow Kate (pu), Lisronagh Cross (pu), Rakatia (pu), Waterliner (pu). Fifteen lengths, 10 lengths. 7.01. W £1.50. SP 4-5 fav.
Race Seven (PPORA Club Members’ Moderate Race):
1 Mrs J Donegan’s Indoux (Mid Surrey Farmers Drag) (P Bull),
2 Miss L Frank’s Sure Future (Cambridge University) (owner),
3 Miss F Goddard’s Garrison Friendly (Ashford Valley) (N Wilson).
Also: Velvet Dove (4), Altareek (f), Castle Road (pu), Fair Exchange (pu), Hail Stone (pu), McAttack (pu), Simber Hill (pu), Stalky Light (pu). Two lengths, five lengths. 7.03. W £5. SP 6-1 (Velvet Dove 6-4 fav).