A massive crowd basked in midsummer-like conditions and there was no more deserving winner than the opening race hero, Montevideo, at the Essex Point-To-Point at High Easter on Saturday.
For Montevideo, who landed the Members Race, is trained by the High Easter landowner and clerk of the course, Simon Marriage, the man responsible for making the day such a success.Though both the training and the organisation of the course is very much a family effort, it was Marriage himself who applied 100,000 gallons of water onto the course to ensure that the going, although fast, was perfectly safe.
Ridden by Andrew Braithwaite, Montevideo has taken time to get over the affects of a crashing fall he suffered at Higham in March. But he jumped really well this time and was not too hard pressed to hold off Thyne Hall by four lengths.
The best race of the day was the Countryside Alliance Club Members, which saw the first five home covered by less than five lengths even though the race was contested over a marathon three and three-quarter mile trip.
Once more there was highly popular winner in the shape of Caveman, who has been running so brilliantly of late yet having to settle for a pair of second places behind Rydal Park, most recently just a week ago at Horseheath.
Described as ‘as tough as old boots’ by his Wymondham-based trainer, Nigel Bloom, he was clearly none the worse for those exertions and, given a fine ride by George Greenock, from Gateley, near Fakenham, he beat last year’s winner, Teeton Bollinger, by a length.
Greenock made a race-winning move at the fourth last, where a flying leap from his mount and a blunder by the runner-up took him into a lead that he was never to relinquish.
There was a shock in the feature race, the £500 Ladies’ Open for the Warwick Vase, as Assassino lowered the colours of the classy mare, Mid Div And Creep. Urged past the hot favourite by Newmarket-based rider Louise Allan jumping the third last, he held on gamely by three lengths to allow his veteran owner-trainer, Joe Turner, to collect the Warwick Vase for a remarkable 18th occasion in his record-breaking career.Foulstons Ruler drew alongside Mid Div And Creep as East Anglia’s most prolific winner of the season with four victories apiece when landing the Intermediate Race. Owned, trained and bred by George Cooper, from Raydon, near Ipswich, Foulstons Ruler was a seventh winner of the campaign for Wymondham rider Rupert Stearn, who thus moves level with David Kemp and James Owen at the head of the East Anglian Jockeys’ Championship.
The day’s tighest finish came in the Open Maiden where Benbaystar, who ripped off a shoe approaching the last and hung badly right thereafter, was caught on the line by Greek Star,who is trained at Great Gidding by Henry Hill and was a second career winner for pilot George Kennedy.
The Restricted Race saw a taking performance by the Kent raider, Tommy Thunder, who proved three lengths too strong for Castleconner Lad.