James Owen and Rupert Stearn were crowned County Linen Services East Anglian Champion Men’s Rider and Champion Novice Men’s Rider thanks to victories at the closing Point-To-Point fixture of the season, the Essex Farmers & Union, at Marks Tey on Saturday.
Owen was expected to go head-to-head against big rival David Kemp. But the firm going meant that neither of Kemp’s intended mounts took part, so when Owen opened up a four point lead with victory in the Confined Race aboard Runningwiththemoon, the title was effectively assured.
Owen, from Newmarket, took his seasonal tally to a personal best of 14 as he guided the nine-year-old, who is trained by his girlfriend, Kelly Smith, to a three length defeat of Baron Bernard.
Afterwards a beaming winning owner, Ray Newby, from Bury St Edmunds, peered out from behind a giant winning trophy that came up to his waist to reveal that Runningwiththemoonmay now head for a Folkestone hunter chase.
Stearn, from Wymondham, clinched the Novice Championship with a highly popular triumph aboard Cosmic Sky in the very last race of the season, the Open Maiden.
Trained at Wretham, near Thetford, by Robert and Jane Abrey and owned and bred by Great Hockham’s Major Richard Wilson, Cosmic Sky has been threatening to win a race for some time, and forfeited certain victory with a last fence calamity at Higham back in January.
He has since lost his form, and it was as a last resort that the Abreys decided to train him from out of a field. This proved an inspired move, as the eight-year-old regained his zest and came home ten lengths clear of the favourite, Alfie Moon.
The bend at the top of the hill between the third- and fourth-last obstacles proved treacherous all day, causing the departure of two of the four runners in Runningwiththemoon’s race.
And even after it has been re-sited by the stewards twice, winning jockey Matt Smith admitted to having negotiated it ‘like an arthritic snail’ prior to prevailing aboard Stick Or Bust in a thrilling three-way finish to the Restricted Race.
Trained at Great Gidding by Katie Thory and owned by Roy and Sally Green, from Soham, Stick Or Bust quickened up well on the run-in to beat the hot favourite, The Stickler, by a neck with Run Monty just a head back in third.
Linlathen scored his fourth course win and gave the Hutchinson family, from Market Harborough, their second East Anglian win in five days when lifting the Ladies’ Open.
And The Vintage Dancer, also trained near Market Harborough by Ninga Pollock, took advantage of Jims Belief slipping up on the final bend to take the Men’s Open in the hands of Gregor Kerr.
Jims Belief was running for the second time in the afternoon as he had earlier doubled the career win total for Raydon-based jockey Rob Cundy when walking over in the Members Race.
Finally, there was an East Anglian success at Peper Harow in Surrey where Spring Gale, ridden by Zoe Turner and trained at Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds, by her grandfather, Joe, landed the Ladies’ Open.
Race One (Members Race):
1 Lady Green and T Buxton’s Jims Belief (Essex and Suffolk) (R Cundy). Walked over.
Race Two (Confined Hunts Race):
1 R Newby’s Running with the Moon (Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace) (J Owen),
2 A G Chinery’s Baron Bernard (East Essex) (P Chinery). Only two finished.
Also: Magic Lodge (su), Table For Four (bd). Three lengths. 6.56. SP 9-4 (Baron Bernard 7-4 fav).
Race Three (Ladies Open Race):
1 Mrs P Hutchinson’s Linlathen (Fernie) (Miss G Hutchinson),
2 Miss J Wickens’ Storm Castle (Kent and Surrey Bloodhound) (owner),
3 Miss G Swan’s Lucky Master (Farmers Bloodhounds) (owner).
Also: Pampered Gale (4). Two lengths, one length. 6.44. SP 5-4 fav.
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 G Kerr’s The Vintage Dancer (Fernie) (owner),
2 B Sill’s Silver Lake (Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent) (M Jackson),
3 P Millington’s Fernie (Valman) (owner).
Also: Jims Belief (su), Tuesday (ref). Two lengths, 20 lengths. 6.54. SP 2-1 (Jims Belief 4-7 fav).
Race Five (Restricted Race):
1 R Green and Mrs S Green’s Stick or Bust (Fitzwilliam) (M Smith),
2 S Blyth’s The Stickler (South Notts) (B Pullock),
3 D Lay and Mrs W Lay’s Run Monty (Essex and Suffolk (M Mackley).
Also: Rocja (4), Treble Trouble (pu). Neck, head. 6.48. SP 11-2 (The Stickler 1-3 fav).
Race Six (Open Maiden Race):
1 Major and Mrs R Wilson and R Abrey’s Cosmic Sky (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
2 M McCaffrey’s Alfie Moon (Aldenham Harriers) (N Bloom),
3 Lakeside Racing’s Penarwel (Fernie) (M Mackley).
Also: Groovejet (4), Scalby Croft (5), Divine Mist (pu), Dynamic Sea (pu), Never Die (pu), Pernickety King (f). Ten lengths, 25 lengths. 6.46. SP 4-1 (Alfie Moon 5-4 fav).