Two thrilling finishes entertained a massive Bank Holiday crowd at the Essex Farmers & Union Point-To-Point at Marks Tey yesterday (Monday).
First Valnic Star made up a huge amount of ground in the last half mile to catch the runaway leader, Dalligan, in the Restricted Race.
Then, in the Confined Race, it was Corston Joker who slipped clear of the field and this time catch-me-if-you-can tactics were rewarded as Endeavour failed by half a length to reel him in.
Dalligan tore off in front under William Pewter and his fellow jockeys were content to bide their time more than 20 lengths adrift, confident that the pace-setter would come back to them. But Pewter had managed to keep a little up his sleeve and his mount was still well clear jumping the second last.
By this time, Gordon Johnson-Houghton had taken up the chase aboard Valnic Star, yet it was only as he hit the rising ground for the climb to the final fence that the leader began to falter.
A Valnic Star victory seemed assured as the first two jumped the last as one. But, all credit to Dalligan, who never gave up and was only a length down passing the judge.
The winner could have a bright future and is unlikely to be seen again in Points. Only a six-year-old, he will now be given a summer break before being campaigned in novice chases for his owner, Alex Embiricos, who trains a small National Hunt string at Newmarket.
Corston Joker was a fifth winner of the Easter weekend for owner Joe Turner, from Ampton near Bury St Edmunds, who enjoyed a treble at Horseheath on Saturday and had earlier taken the Ladies’ Open with Celtic Duke.
Ridden by Andrew Sansome, Corston Joker kicked for home after the fourth last and, though Endeavour began to bear down on him approaching the final obstacle, a good leap there proved crucial. Indeed, Endeavour’s jumping was never as fluent as that of the winner and a bad mistake at the 14th proved particularly costly.
The hot favourites landed the day’s two Open Races with the minimum of fuss. Zoe Turner, Joe’s granddaughter, contravened her riding orders by making the running in the Ladies’ aboard Celtic Duke. But only Hay Dance among her five rivals ever threatened to make a race of it and Celtic Duke still had a comfortable 12 lengths to spare at the line.
Novatara was the choice of punters in the Men’s Open and he did not disappoint, making most of the running to beat the Turner-Sansome representative, Dynamic Lord, by ten lengths. Owned and ridden by Andrew Ayers, from Gestingthorpe, near Halstead, he is trained at nearby Great Yeldham by Robert Gardiner.
The opening Maiden Race saw Light The Sky provide a first victory in the saddle for 30-year-old Emma Downer, who has recently moved from Northampton to Newmarket.
Light The Sky is trained at Whepstead, near Bury St Edmunds, by Neil King, who had high hopes of completing a double when Lovelock faced a solitary rival in the closing Intermediate Race.
But that one rival was Mai Point, who produced a first-rate display of jumping under Rachael Barrow and shot clear after the second last to notch a well-deserved win for her owner-trainer, Paula Twinn, from Pebmarsh, near Halstead.
Race One (Open Maiden Race):
1 Miss E Downer’s Light the Sky (Quorn) (Owner),
2 Mr and Mrs W A Wales’ Second Thoughts (West Norfolk) (W Wales),
3 The Marriage Family’s Grey Fusilier (Essex) (N King).
Also: Just Fiddle (pu), Master Pace (pu), Paddy’s Dream (pu), Pendils L Charm (pu), Schoodic Point (f), Skirmishing (pu), Worthy Memories (pu). Distances: 20 lengths. 7m 09s. W £3.70. DF £8.50. SP 5/2 (Paddy’s Dream 6/4 fav).
Race Two (Restricted Race):
1 Ms A E Embiricos’ Lord Valnic (Cambridge Univ) (G Johnson-Houghton),
2 Mr N J Pewter’s Dalligan (Suffolk) (W Pewter),
3 Mr G I Cooper’s Rip Kirby (E Anglian Bloodhounds) (Owner).
Also: Royal Way (4), Changing Fashion (pu), Glad All Over (5), River Gala (pu). Distances: 1 length, 20 lengths. 7m 01s. W £2.50. DF £7.00. SP 2/1. (Rip Kirby fav).
Race Three (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mr A Ayers’ Novalara (E Essex) (Owner),
2 Mr J M Turner’s Dynamic Lord (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
3 Mrs M Ruff, Mrs S Cross and Mr N King’s Rathgibbon (Easton H) (N King).
Also: Docmaster (4). Distances: 10 lengths, a distance. 6m 54s. W £1.50. DF £2.00. SP 2/5 fav.
Race Four (Ladies Open Race):
1 Mr J M Turner’s Celtic Duke (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),
2 Mrs S J Ruddle’s Hay Dance (Waveney H) (Miss R Barrow),
3 Mr C J Hayes’ Glass Breaker (Cambridge Univ.), (Miss A M Hays).
Also: Sense (4), The Secret Grey (5), Nordic Sore (up). Distances: 15 lengths, 25 lengths. 6m 57s. W £1.50. DF £15.00. SP 2/5 fav.
Race Five: (Confined Hunts Race):
1 Mr J M Turner’s Corston Joker (Suffolk) (A Sansome)
2 Mr D W Clark’s Endeavour (Essex and Suffolk) (G Cooper),
3 M A Ayers’ Native Status (E Essex) (Owner).
Also: Tarthooth (4), Cormeen Lord (5), Wreckengale (6), Bens Gift (pu), Remilan (pu). Distances: ½ length, 6 lengths. 6m 55s. W £3.50. DF £6.20. SP 5/1. (Endeavour and Native Status 2/1 joint favs).
Race Six (Intermediate Race):
1 Mr D Claydon and Mrs P A Twinn’s Mail Point (E Essex) (Miss R Barrow),
2 Mr W B Stone’s Lovelock (Fitzwilliam) (N King).
Distances: A distance. 7m 05. W £1.40. SP 6/4. (Lovelock 4/9 fav).