Lauren Michelli and Andrew Braithwaite had a day to remember at the Essex and Suffolk Point-To-Point at Higham on Saturday, where they were successful in all three capacities – training, owning and riding.
The pair share a yard at Horseheath, near Haverhill, where they train a small string in Michelli’s name. She usually takes a back seat behind Braithwaite, consistently one of the best jockeys in the region over recent seasons.
But this time 29-year-old Michelli took the lion’s share of the limelight, riding her second career winner aboard Duke of Stradone in the Novice Riders’ Race.
Duke of Stradone made all the running and held off the persistent challenge of Basic Fact by three lengths. Michelli also collected the trainer’s prize while Braithwaite took the owner’s trophy on behalf of his father.
That was not his only award of the afternoon as he deputised for injured trainer-rider David Kemp (from Kilverstone, near Thetford) to take the Men’s Open aboard Took My Eye. Owned by Barry Belchem, from Kelvedon, Took My Eye lived up to his name, sprinting clear up the home straight to notch an impressive victory.
Took My Eye denied jockey-of-the-moment Rupert Stearn aboard the red-hot favourite,Another Dude, who trailed home a distant second. Stearn had earlier made it five winners from his last six rides when landing the first two races on Rocja and Onyx d’Ace.
Rocja, who was part of Stearn’s hat-trick at Marks Tey the previous Sunday, again made hard work of what looked a reasonably easy task in the Club Members Race once Master Rex, who was sent off at a very short price, pulled up lame.
Despite losing lengths by constantly jumping out to his right on this left-handed track, Rocja showed good battling qualities to overhaul Magic To Do and prevail by half a length.
Martin Ward, who trains Magic To Do at Sutton, near Ely, greeted Stearn into the winner’s enclosure with the words: “I’ll forgive you if you win the next race for me.”
And the Wymondham-based rider did just that, taking his seasonal tally into double figures aboard Ward’s Onyx d’Ace in the Restricted Race.
While Stearn moved clear at the head of the East Anglian Men’s Jockeys Championship, the situation in the Ladies’ table remained the same as the top two riders had a winner apiece.
First Gina Andrews, from Lilley in Hertfordshire, took her total for 2009 to six when Delightful Cliché, trained by her father, Simon, took revenge on his recent Horseheath conqueror, King du Berlais, in a tight finish to the Ladies’ Open.
Kelly Smith, from Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds, then ensured that Andrews’s lead was pegged back to two when she made all the running to land the closing Maiden Race on another Hertfordshire-trained horse, Si Anthony.
Race One (Higham Hunts Club Members Race):
1 Mr and Mrs S Stearn’s Rocja (Granta Harriers) (R Stearn),
2 Miss T Ward and Miss R Ward’s Magic to Do (Granta Harriers) (Miss R Ward),
3 Mrs J K Buckle’s Serpentine Rock (Essex and Suffolk) (Miss L Allan).
Half a length, distance. 6.27. SP 7-4 (Master Rex 1-2 fav).
Race Two (Restricted Race):
1 Mrs M Brightwell, Lady Quilter and S Stiff’s Onyx d’Ace (Granta Harriers) (R Stearn),
2 M A Kemp’s Comeonourfella (North Norfolk Harriers) (B Rivett),
3 J Morrey and S Gunn’s Kipper (Thurlow) (J Morrey).
Five lengths, 15 lengths. 6.27. SP 4-1 (Grey Shark 5-4 fav).
Race Three (Men’s Open Race):
1 B Belchem’s Took My Eye (E Essex) (A Braithwaite),
2 R Abrey’s Another Dude (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
3 J M Turner’s Dead Mans Dante (Suffolk) (J Owen).
Distance, 15 lengths. 6.23. SP 3-1(Another Dude 2-5 fav).
Race Four (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Mrs P Rogers’ Delightful Cliché (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Miss G Andrews),
2 J M Turner’s King du Berlais (Suffolk) (Miss L Allan),
3 Mrs J May’s Saafend Rocket (Cambridge University) (Miss L Michelli).
Half a length, 10 lengths. SP 7-4 (King du Berlais evens fav).
Race Five (PPORA Club Members Race, Novice Riders):
1 J K Braithwaite’s Duke of Stradone (Granta Harriers) (Miss L Michelli),
2 J M Turner’s Basic Fact (Suffolk) (E Turner),
3 The Pope Partnership’s Columba (Suffolk) (J Bailey).
Three lengths, 15 lengths. 6.24. SP 16-1 (Nokimover 7-4 fav).
Race Six (Open Maiden Race):
1 B Dowling’s Si Anthony (Puckeridge) (Miss K Smith),
2 The Mirage Prince Group’s Mirage Prince (Fernie) (P Millington),
3 T Bryce’s Robeson (Suffolk) (R Stearn).
Eight lengths, distance. 6.26. SP 6-4 fav.
Pony Race One (Children’s Pony Flat Race, 128cm and under):
1 A Dixon’s Knapton Windrush (East Essex) (Edward Twinn),
2 Miss Lucy Lee-Smith’s Ernford Camomile (West Norfolk) (India Taylor),
3 Deborah Friswell’s Maisies Music (Essex Farmer and Union) (Toby Twinn).
Six lengths, six lengths.
Pony Race Two (Children’s Pony Flat Race, 148cm and under):
1 N Wright’s Fitzwarren (Thurlow) (Fergus Wright),
2 Shelley Birkett’s Busy Miss Lizzie (Thurlow) (owner),
3 Mr and Mrs S Cowell’s Little Irish Diamond (East Essex) (Edward Twinn).
15 lengths, five lengths.