An unscheduled, and potentially dangerous, excursion onto the carriageway of the A11 on the way to the course did not stop Rupert Stearn from becoming the hero of the day as one of East Anglia’s most popular Point-To-Point meetings produced some exciting sport at High Easter, near Chelmsford, on Saturday.
The day did not begin well for the Stearn family, from Wymondham, as their horse box suffered a total power failure just beyond the Fourwentways junction of the A11 near Linton – a section where there is no hard shoulder.
Fortunately, the box of their friend and fellow Pointing trainer, Robert Abrey, was following some minutes behind so Desertmore Valley, the horse inside the Stearn vehicle, was picked up from the side of the road.
Remarkably both Desertmore Valley and the initial occupant of the Abrey box, Beat The Index, later won their races in thrilling finishes, completing a riding double for Rupert Stearn and enabling him to lift the trophy on offer to the day’s top jockey.
After Desertmore Valley just outstayed the odds-on favourite, Play The Ace, by a neck to land the Intermediate Race, Simon Stearn, Rupert’s father and the winning trainer, said: “We wouldn’t even have made it here if it hadn’t been for Robert Abrey.”
“The police stipulated that the A11 had to be closed in both directions while we transferred the horse and I was very worried as Desertmore Valley was getting a bit stewed up and he can be a sod to load. But in the end he went up the ramp as good as gold.”
Stearn junior repeated the dose, again prevailing by just a neck, in the following Maiden race aboard Beat The Index. Abrey, from Wretham near Thetford, was enjoying his first training success for four years and revealed: “Beat The Index is pretty straightforward at home – he would have to be as I ride him every morning!”
These two races did not, however, produce the closest finish of the day. Fittingly, that honour befell the Baileys Horse Feeds Warwick Vase Ladies Open, the East Anglian Area Feature Race for the season with maximum prizemoney of £750.
Only four runners lined up for this, but it resulted in a titanic duel between the two best Ladies horses around, It Was Me and Berties Dream. It Was Me came out on top by the narrowest possible margin – a short head – after Berties Dream had almost made up a two length deficit in the closing stages.
It Was Me is trained at Badlingham, near Newmarket, by Nick Wright, who said afterwards: “It was a privilege to be involved in such a great race and my heart is still pounding from watching it. It Was Me will run in a hunter chase next but I am not sure which one.”
Trainer-rider David Kemp, from Croxton near Thetford, followed up his famous hunter chase double at Fakenham on Easter Monday by guiding Po Valley to a comfortable success in the Restricted Race.
And jockey George Greenock, who hails from Gateley, near Fakenham, notched up his fifth success of the campaign when making almost every yard of the running in the three-and-three-quarter mile Club Members Race aboard Empire Builder.
Finally, hats off to owner-trainer Nigel Padfield, from Abridge, near Epping, who landed the Essex Hunt Race for an incredible fifth straight year courtesy of Star Of Massini, ridden by Gina Andrews.