A warm but blustery day ensured good-to-firm ground and an excellent crowd for the East Essex Hunt Point-to-Point at Marks Tey near Colchester on Saturday. The meeting celebrated sixty years of racing at Marks Tey racetrack thanks to the Sherwood Family who own the land and the occasion was marked by the inaugural running of the four-mile Essex National; the first four-mile race to be run at Marks Tey since 1989.
Despite starting as the 25/1 outsider of the seven runners, Andsosayallofus put together an exhibition round of jumping and galloping from the front and ran his rivals into submission in the Essex National Mens Open. He seemed to relish the extra distance, which was confirmed by winning trainer Simon Bloss from Sproughton near Ipswich, who had targeted the horse at the race on the advice of winning rider Andrew Braithwaite. This was a first point-to-pointing success for Andsosayallofus, who in his younger days had finished runner-up to last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander in a Maiden Irish point-to-point. This success represented a fine training performance by Simon Bloss, who trains just two horses, as he confirmed that the fragile winner “has legs of glass”. The four-miler at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase Meeting on 4th May is now the target, perhaps via a prep run at High Easter in two weeks time.
The Final of the Aga Ladies Open Series also takes place at that Cheltenham fixture in early May, but King Du Berlais is unlikely to run there, despite winning his second series qualifier in seven days, as he followed up his win at Horseheath last weekend with another cosy success under Louise Allan in the Ladies Open. The odds-on favourite has formed a notable partnership with Louise Allan and was providing her with a 53rd career success in point-to-points, many of which have come, like this victory, in the famous colours of East Anglian point-to-pointing legend, Joe Turner.
Earlier on the card, Louise Allan had taken her tally to 52, again for the Turner family, when steering Katepast to success in the Open Maiden Race. It was 13th time lucky for Katepast,as he prevailed in a tight finish to win his first race at the 13th attempt from the fast-finishing Tuscany Star. Louise Allan noted afterwards that Katepast is showing more stamina than last season and that she was now owed a tenner by the Turner’s head groom, who had bet her that she would never succeed in getting Katepast to win a race!
The yard of trainer John Ibbott, based at Chediston in Suffolk, is enjoying a rich vein of form this season and in the shape of the mare Finnish Melody, he probably has the most improved point-to-pointer in the area. Angela Long’s homebred mare is now unbeaten in all three starts in point-to-points this season and has formed a particularly effective partnership with jockey Gina Andrews, who continues to set a furious pace at the head of the standings for the National Lady Rider’s Championship with 15 winners. Finnish Melody bounced out in front and was never headed as she bounded to an impressive success in the Intermediate Race. John Ibbott confirmed that the going was as firm as the mare wanted and that he would monitor ground conditions before committing her to another race this season.
Another plucky mare was successful earlier on the card when the game and consistent Forget The Ref fought on tenaciously to deny market rival Ide No Idea in the Confined Hunts Race. Rupert Stearn had partnered the hitherto unbeaten Ide No Idea, trained at Wymondham by Caroline Fryer, to all of his three victories this season, but his loyalty to Forget The Ref and trainer Robert Abrey was rewarded. The mare is owned jointly by Ian Thurtle and Robert Abrey, who both hail from Wretham near Thetford and Ian Thurtle paid tribute afterwards to the mare’s incredibly willing attitude as she stuck her neck out on the run-in when challenged by Ide No Idea. She may well be retired to stud at the end of the season according to connections.
Gina Andrews’ younger sister Bridget is certainly following in her sister’s footsteps, as she produced an astutely timed challenge aboard Maranach, trained by their father Simon at Lilley near Luton, in the opening Hunts Club Members Race to upset long odds-on favourite Foulstons Ruler. Foulstons Ruler seemed to find the going plenty quick enough and he was unable to repel the late challenge of Maranach, who was going one better than when runner-up to the Ladies Open winner King Du Berlais at Horseheath last weekend. Owner David Gibbon from Bentley in Suffolk was thrilled with the victory and eulogised about the perfect tactical ride executed by Bridget Andrews.
The closing Club Members Race for Novice Riders looked a one-sided contest on paper and so it proved as the long odds-on favourite Ballygalley Bob was unhurried to hold off his four rivals under Richard Collinson. This was a tonic for the earlier narrow defeat of Ide No Idea for their trainer Caroline Fryer, who boasts an incredible strike rate in her first season as a trainer, having achieved seven victories from just four horses in training. Ballygalley Bob will maintain his partnership with Richard Collinson and the pair will be targeted at another novice riders contest.
1 Charlies Chance – Andrew Braithwaite Walked over
1 Ballygalley Bob – Bridget Andrews Walked over
1 Caveman – George Greenock Walked over
1 O’Gara – Richard Collinson 4/1
2 Ambasador – Andrew Pennock
3 Toe To Hand – Bridget Andrews 2/5f
Time: 6 mins 52 secs Dists: 3/4L, 1L 3 ran
1 Ski Dazzle – Bridget Andrews Walked over
1 Ocean Fou – Richard Collinson 3/1
2 Rockfield – George Greenock 5/4f
3 Dalmatian – Andrew Pennock
Time: 6 mins 46 secs Dists: 12L, 15L 4 ran
Pony Race 1 (138cm and under)
1 Shooting Star – Toby Holland 1/5f
2 Rory – Honor Whyte
3 Hollizan Gloribee – Jasmine Holland
Dists: 20L, 1L 4 ran
Pony Race 2 (148cm and under)
1 Doppio Movimento – Charlotte Wyatt 4/5f
2 The Bossy Hobbit – Alex French
3 So Lord – Georgina Friswell
Dists: 5l, a distance 7 ran