The ‘Race Of The Season’ brought the East Anglian Point-To-Pointing campaign to a fitting climax as Dawn Alert inflicted a first defeat in 14 starts on Copper Thistle at High Easter on Saturday.
Glorious sunshine, high class racing and some thrilling finishes made for a superb afternoon’s sport, much thanks to Clerk Of The Course Simon Marriage and his team who produced a well-tended racing surface and a huge array of trophies and prizes for the winners.
The Men’s Open was the undoubted highlight as Dawn Alert threw down the gauntlet to the nigh-invincible Copper Thistle when moving into the lead with almost a mile to run.
Another fine leap at the final fence seemed to have sealed victory for the underdog, but Copper Thistle simply refused to give up and was a mere head adrift at the winning line.
Christian Ward-Thomas would have ridden Dawn Alert, but he is getting married next month and had an important date with the vicar. William Wales, from Binham in north Norfolk, proved to be a brilliant stand-in, and afterwards owner Anthony Howland Jackson joked: “I think we should send Christian away to pray for us every week!”
Howland Jackson, from Wakes Colne, near Colchester, was also celebrating after the Restricted Race as the victory of Heathburn was the 50th to be achieved by a horse carrying the green and white colours that belong to him and his wife, Sue.
Both Howland Jackson winners were trained at Glemsford by Ruth Hayter, and Ward-Thomas’s deputy aboard Heathburn was Nigel Bloom, who rubber-stamped his success in the ‘In The Pink’-sponsored Area Jockeys’ Championship with his 18th triumph of the term.
The Ladies’ Open proved an emotional affair as Cache Fleur ended an illustrious career with his 20th victory, at the same time completing a half century of winner for his owner-trainer-rider, Gi d’Angibau.
On a very sad note, Emsee-H suffered a fatal injury in the same race, but his lasting epitaph will be that his untimely end came on the very day that his regular jockey and greatest admirer, Zoe Turner, was crowned East Anglian Area Champion for the first time. Turner brke her neck in a fall a few years ago and Emsee-H was the horse that nursed her back to race-riding.
Retirements abounded following the Members’ Race, won for the third year running by Aeolianand jockey Robin Gill. Both horse and rider will not be seen again, 27-year-old Gill, from Epping Forest, citing weight problems as the reason for his decision. Third-placed Peanuts Pet was also running for the last time in a career which has spanned 13 years and well over 100 races.
George Copper delivered Nibble (whom he trains at Raydon, near Hadleigh, in partnership with Cherie Cunningham) with a perfectly-timed challenge to land the Confined Race ahead of the favourite, Fair Exchange.
Glencloy, who jumped the last three fences without a bridle on his previous visit to the course, took the first division of the Maiden for owner-trainer Mick Clark, from Benington in Hertfordshire. Jockey Alan Coe quipped afterwards: “It’s a lot easier with the bridle on!”
Finally, Always Trying, trained near Bury St Edmunds by Joe Turner and his family and ridden by Andrew Sansome, tried a little bit harder than the ultra-reluctant Sweet William to land the second Maiden.
Race One (Hunt Race):
1 Mrs J Pearl, K Biltoo and D Gill’s Aeolian (Essex) (R Gill),
2 The Marriage Family’s Salmon Mead (Essex) (Miss N Barnes),
3 D Barnard’s Peanuts Pet (Essex) (Miss H Barnard).
Also: Master Page (pu). 1« lengths, 5 lengths. 6m 44s. W œ2.10. DF œ1.80. SP evens fav.
Race Two (Confined Race):
1 Miss C Cunningham’s Nibble (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (G Cooper),
2 Mrs G Sheppard’s Fair Exchange (Cambridgeshire) (P Taiano),
3 Mrs M Latham’s Tell Tale (Essex Farmers and Union) (A Harvey).
Also: Ballydesmond (4), Take A Flyer (5), Emsee-H (pu), Fire On Ice (pu), Regal Bay (pu), Royal Action (pu), Youcat (pu). 2
lengths, ó length. 6m 30s. W œ3.50. DF œ2. SP 3-1. (Fair Exchange 4-6 fav).
Race Three (Restricted Race):
1 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson’s Heathburn (Suffolk) (N Bloom),
2 B Dowling’s Mackoy (Puckeridge) (C Ward),
3 M Keane’s The Millmaster (Puckeridge) (T Lane).
Also: Vulgan Prince (4), Bakmalad (5), Rathkeal (6), Monere (pu), Skinsey Finnegan (pu), Uncle Buck (pu). 10 lengths, 10 lengths. 6m 33s. W œ4. DF œ18.50. SP 5-2 jt fav. (Uncle Buck 5-2 jt fav).
Race Four (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Mrs G d’Angibau’s Cache Fleur (Essex and Suffolk) (owner),
2 F Snowdew’s Baby Whale (Tiverton Foxhounds) (Miss C Grissel),
3 R Gray and J Hughes’ Island Vision (Cranwell Bloodhounds) (Mrs J Huges).
Also: Mill O’ The Rags (4), Larry The Lamb (5), Ann’s Ambition (6), Ballyedward (7), Alfredo Garcia (pu), Cill Churnain (pu). ó
length, 5 lengths. 6m 28s. W œ2.40. DF œ2.10. SP 6-4 jt fav. (Baby Whale 6-4 jt fav).
Race Five (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson’s Dawn Alert (Suffolk) (W Wales), Mr R Hunnisett’s Copper Thistle (Pytchley) (owner),
3 J Sharp’s Cormeen Lord (Woodland Pytchley) (P Taiano).
Also: Mr Maggett (4), Limosa (5), Lord Knox (pu), On The Beer (pu), Roscolvin (pu). Head, 10 lengths. 6m 22s. W œ3.30. DF œ2.50. SP 5-2. (Copper Thistle 2-5 fav).
Race Six (Maiden Race, Division One):
1 B Clark and Ms C Lucas’ Glencloy (Puckeridge) (A Coe),
2 C Jarvis’ Out Of Actons (Suffolk) (owner),
3 J M Turner’s Clifford Bay (Suffolk) (A Sansome).
Also: Airbourne Blue (f), Bright Torino (r/o), Camden Loch (pu), Cicero’s Law (pu), Craighardie (pu), Father’s Joy (pu), Lazy Acres (pu). 1« lengths, 20 lengths. 6m 39s. W œ5.50. DF œ5.90. SP 4-1 (Clifford Bay 5-4 fav).
Race Seven (Maiden Race, Division Two):
1 J M Turner’s Always Trying (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
2 Mrs K Pilkington’s Sweet William (Enfield Chace) (A Harvey),
3 Mrs T Renwick’s Timothy George (Fernie) (P Millington).
Also: Henpecked (4), Life Of A Star (pu), Midnight Royal (pu), Newick Park (ur), Vulpin De Laugere (pu), Wise Point (pu), Yashwel (pu). 1length, 15 lengths. 6m 45s. W œ11.30. DF œ6 (winner with any other). SP 7-1. (Newick Park 5-2 fav).