A bright, sunny afternoon was accompanied by a chilly north-easterly wind for Saturday’s Easton Harriers meeting at High Easter, but the smile on the face of George Cooper was enough to warm everybody as he steered yet another winner into the unsaddling enclosure.
This remarkable man has been on the East Anglian point-to-point riding scene for approximately 40 years and still retains his enthusiasm and endeavour to go on for a few more seasons. His riding of Nibble, trained by Cherie Cunningham at Raydon, in the Intermediate race, drew on all the skill and judgement that goes with experience. Nibble was produced to take the lead between the last two fences and comfortably held the challenge of the out-of-area, odds-on favourite Aintgottime by two lengths. George beleives this was his first winner at High Easter, which must mean that there cannot be many courses, either current or defunct in East Anglia, where he hasn’t adorned the winners’ enclosure.
Somebody else who hadn’t enjoyed a previous winner was the irrepressible Caroline Bailey, who on her first visit to the course brought Tom De Savoire, who duly obliged in the Men’s Open. Owned by a group of four Norfolk based farmers, William Wales, riding in the colours of his good friend William Barber, came with a perfectly-judged run on the favourite to twart an encouraging return to form by the runner-up Broadway Swinger.
The Ladies’s Open went to the highly-thought-of Spring Gale. Ridden with extreme confidence by Zoe Turner, they absolutley flew the second last fence to beat the main rival – Cracking Idea – by 10 lengths. These will go down as the race statistics, but do not take into account the 30 lengths that Cracking Idea lost when infortunately caught facing the wrong way when the race started. Another day and another race will be worth viewing when these two meet again.
Declarations for the five, six and seven year-old Maiden race exceeded the safety factor and the race was divided. The First Division went to the Alex Harvey-trained and ridden You Can Quote Me, who delighted his owners. The Wickham Partnership with a well earned victory over Fountain Bank. Alex is also one of the joint owners and is currently thoughly enjoying life in his training and riding role as the pressure is off. He felt that the winner was unlucky to have come up against the smart Le Cabro D’Or on one of his going days at Marks Tey last month.
The Second Division went to Will Hill, who looks a promising five-year-old by Phardante.Already considered a star in the stable he took up the running on the final circuit espite jumping erratically to the right. It was “a habit he picked up as the race went on”, remarked successful jockey Simon Sporborg. Riding honours in the race must go to Alan Coe, who survived a bad blunder at the forth last on Glencoy, only to find he had no sterring left. The pair completed the course beating two other rivals, and the horse was reunited with his bit and other tack when occupying the third spot in the unsaddling enclosure!
The Maiden race for eight-year-olds and upwards saw a welcome change of luck for Derek Harding-Jones and his son Perry who trains at North Weald, about half an hour from High Easter. Calipo Bello gave Simon Sporborg a quick double and gives some compensation to his owner, whose O’Flaherty’s Babe broke down badly at Ampton last week and probably made his last racecourse appearance.
The opening Members’ race had no less than five entries from Matthew Gingell’s Knodishall stable, with the end result being the trainer choosing correctly when Moore’s Melodiesjustified favouritism. joint owners Diana Hall and Tom Alexander, a retired vet, now have the pleasure of holding the Challenge cupfor the next 12 months although Darren Page and his 1999 winner Karicleigh Man hope to be back challenging next year.
The concluding Restricted race on a fine afternoon’s racing went to Catherine Tuke’s Spring Wheat. So disappointed in not being able to ride when the mare won at Cottenham, this made up for it as the pair forced their way to the front on the run-in to win by threequarters of a length from Mister Audi and Andrew Sansome. Catherine, who suffered a bad fall last season, had only received her riding licence about 10 days ago and this was her second ride back after the enforced lay-off, having had a ride at Garthorpe last weekend. Even the quiet word from the Stewards regarding her use of the whip in the finish could not detract from the sheer joy of the likeable young Catherine, who comes from near Saffron Walden, was experiencing.
It was another superb day’s racing, with the course in supreme condition and many exciting finishes. There is a real treat in store next weekend, with two meetings at Higham on Saturday and Cottenham on Sunday.
Race One (Hunt Race):
1 Ms D Hall and T Alexander’s Moore’s Melodies (Easton Harriers) (M Gingell),
2 P Browse’s The Marmalade Car (Easton Harriers) (owner),
3 R Barr’s Reuter (Easton Harriers) (owner);
also Arkay (4), Going Around (pu), Mannagar (ur), Sands of Gold (ur), Seewardy (pu). Eight lengths, ten lengths. 6.46. W £2.30. DF £6.70. SP 6-4fav.
Race Two (Maiden Race for 5, 6 and 7-year-olds – Division One):
1 The Wickham Partnership’s You Can Quote Me (Puckeridge) (A Harvey);
2 T Alexander and R Barr’s Fountain Bank (Easton Harriers) (M Gingell),
3 P Rackham’s Ginger Pudding (West Norfolk) (W Wales);
also Curracloe Rose (4), Sire De Brumetz (5), About Time (ur), Cardinal Bud (f), Golden Knight (ur), Maltby’s Charlie (pu), Rag Bolt (pu). One and a half lengths, five lengths. 6.34. W £3.90. DF £7.40. SP 3-1jt fav (Ginger Pudding 3-1jt fav).
Race Three (Maiden Race for 5, 6 and 7-year-olds – Division Two):
1 H Hill and C Sporborg’s Will Hill (Puckeridge) (S Sporborg),
2 Miss R Murrell and Miss G Cooper’s Chadwick Bank (Bicester and Whaddon Chase) (M Gingell),
3 Ms C Lucas and B Clark’s Glencoy (Puckeridge) (A Coe);
also Yashwel (4), Cerisier (5), Ardluck (pu), Bandit Boy (pu), Inns of Court (pu), Midnight Dynamite (pu), Sidney Street (f). Fifteen lengths, a distance. No time taken. W £2.10. DF £3.10. SP 5-4fav.
Race Four (Maiden Race for 8-year-olds and upwards):
1 D Harding-Jones’ Calipo Bello (Puckeridge) (S Sporborg),
2 C Jarvis’ Out Of Actions (Suffolk)(owner),
3 Mr and Mrs A Aldridge’s Sweet Talker (Thurlow) (N Bloom);
also Miss Mouse (4), Chariot Man (5), Bozo Bailey (pu), Outside The Rain (pu), Take It Easy (pu), Thunderbird (ur), Wardy Hill (pu), Wise Point (ro). Head, two lengths. 6.35. W £4.80. DF £3.80 (winner with any other). SP 7-2 (Miss Mouse evens favourite).
Race Five (Men’s Open Race):
1 W Barber’s Tom De Savoie (West Norfolk) (W Wales),
2 P Cooke’s Broadway Swinger (Cottesmore) (S Andrews),
3 H Lascelles and K William’s Mister Truck (Pytchley) (N King);
also Espilo De La Ronce (4), Dockmaster (5), Kelly’s Original (6), No Quitting (7), Remilan (8), Stoney Valley (9), Captain Marmalade (pu), Deep Refrain (pu), Dynamite Dan (pu), Son Of Iris (pu), Still In Business (ur). One length, two lengths. 6.25. W £3.20, DF £32.00. SP 6-4fav.
Race Six (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 J M Turner’s Spring Gale (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),
2 Mrs P K Brightwell’s Cracking Idea (Essex and Suffolk) (Mrs G D’Angibau),
3 Mr and Mrs B Twinn’s Limited Liability (East Sussex) (Miss C Grissell);
also Peanuts Pet (4), Ballyedward (5), Just Jack (6), Gatchou Mans (ur), Hay Dance (pu), Laughing Fontaine (pu), Let’s Twist Again (ur), Mill O’ The Rags (ro). Two lengths, twelve lengths. 6.25. W £1.30. DF £2.10. SP 4-9fav.
Race Seven (Intermediate Race):
1 Ms C Cunningham’s Nibble (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (G Cooper),
2 Mrs F Kehoe’s Aintgottime (Bicester and Whaddon Chase) (R Lawther),
3 The Marriage Family’s Alfredo Garcia (Essex) (S Andrews);
also Live Wire (4), Generous Deal (5), Royal Surprise (6), Lord Knox (7), Borrow Mine (8), Hot Chocolate (9), Aeolian (pu), Citizen Band (pu), Courier’s Way (pu), Minor Key (pu), Youcat (pu). Two lengths, three lengths. 6.28. W £6.30. DF £3.10. SP 5-1 (Aintgottime 1-2fav).
Race Eight (Restricted Race):
1 Miss C Tuke’s Springwheat (Thurlow) (owner),
2 J M Turner’s Mister Audi (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
3 Dead heat between M Kemp’s Bakmalad (Suffolk) (D Kemp) and B Dowling’s Mackoy (Puckeridge) (M Gingell);
also Deep Song (5), Beau Jouer (6), Ar Aghaidh Abhaile (pu), Cill Chuillinn (pu), Free And Equal (pu), Hazy Sea (pu), Life Of A Star (pu), Premier First (pu), Smurf (f). Three quarters of a length, two lengths. 6.38. W £44.60. DF £1.30 (second with any other). SP 33-1 (Mister Audi and Smurf 6-4jt fav).