The foreign invaders had a field day at the Essex & Suffolk Point-To-Point at Higham on Saturday with only Deckie upholding the honour of East Anglia with a narrow success in the Men’s Open Race.
Four of the other five events went to welcome visitors from outside this area and though King Plato, trained near Bury St Edmunds by Joe Turner, was a good winner, this was in the Confined Race, so called because only horses qualified with East Anglian hunts are allowed to compete.
Even the opening Members Race was won by a horse from ‘abroad’ as Naughty Dandy, who was qualified at the nearby Langham yard of Wilf Tolhurst, three weeks ago moved to the Sussex stable of Sara Hickman.
To a large extent this was still a local triumph, as owner-rider Camilla Andrews originally hails from near Colchester. And congratulations are due to Shelley Mills, the 26-year-old pilot of the runner-up, Brea Hill, who comes from Layham, just a few miles from the course, and was having her first ride in public.
Deckie, trained at Kilverstone, near Thetford, by jockey David Kemp, justified hot favouritism but only just, holding on by half a length from Berkshire raider, Bering Gifts, after a slow jump at the final fence.
A relieved Kemp, who was notching a 12th victory of the season, revealed afterwards that he had got the go-ahead to run from Deckie’s owner, Fleur Hawes, who was holidaying in America, a matter of hours before the race.
Cloth of Gold made the longest journey to the course, all the way from near Worcester, but the trip home should have flown by after a very easy win in the Gerrard Ladies’ Open.This event was marred by the fatal fall of Chicago City which left his jockey, Alex Embiricos, with a wrist broken in three places. Ironically, Newmarket-based Embiricos, who leads the East Anglian Lady Riders’ Championship, had received the trophy as the region’s Jockey Of The Month for March just minutes earlier.
Another local rider in the wars was veteran George Cooper, from Raydon, near Hadleigh, who suffered a dislocated and broken shoulder when coming adrift from odds-on favourite Jims Belief in the Members Race.
Ben Pollock, one of the nation’s top riders, was hit with a similar shoulder injury in a fall at High Easter last April. He was having his first ride since when guiding The Stickler, who is trained in Leicestershire by his wife, Ninga, to a smooth success in the Open Maiden race.
Another impressive winner was the Northamptonshire-trained Tooley Park, who beat the market leader, Ballykilthy, by an easy ten lengths in the Restricted Race.
The day had begun with a pair of hotly-contested Children’s Pony Races which went to ten-year-old Edward Baker, on Perryditch Tupelo, and 12-year-old William Hale, on Tottington Time Out.
Race One (Members’ Race):
1 Mrs C Andrews’ Naughty Dandy (Essex and Suffolk) (owner),
2 Mrs E Reid’s Brea Hill (Essex and Suffolk) (Mrs S Mills).
Also: Buffaventa (ref), Jims Belief (ur), Premier Marble (f). Fifteen lengths. 6.20. W £3.40. DF £70. SP 5-1 (Jims Belief 1-2 fav).
Race Two (Restricted Race):
1 J T Hunt’s Tooley Park (Pytchley) (J Diment),
2 Ms J May and Ms A Embiricos’ Ballykilthy (Cambridge University) (N Moore),
3 Mr and Mrs W Brown’s Holywell Girl (Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace) (J Owen).
Also: Rocja (4), Asabache (f), Las Animas (pu), Mackoy (pu), Sales Dodger (pu), Treble Trouble (pu), Waterliner (pu). Ten lengths, five lengths. 6.04. W £4.20. DF £2.50. SP 8-1 (Ballykilthy 4-5 fav).
Race Three (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mrs F Hawes’ Deckie (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 A Hill’s Bering Gifts (Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and S Berks) (R Cope),
3 E Cantillon’s Hi Tech Man (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (N Moore).
Also: Minster York (4), Munadil (pu), Pharbeitfrome (pu), Valman (pu). Half a length, a distance. 6.02. W £1.80. DF £1.50. SP 2-5 fav.
Race Four (Ladies Open Race):
1 D J Lee’s Cloth Of Gold (Clifton-on-Teme) (Miss E Jones),
2 The Sporting Endeavour Partnership’s Tartar Sabre (Waveney Harriers) (Miss L Barrett-Nobbs),
3 J M Turner’s Celtic Duke (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner).
Also: Nokimover (4), Bustling Rio (pu), Chicago City (f), Glenalla Braes (pu). A distance, two lengths. 6. W £2.40. DF £5.20. SP 4-7 fav.
Race Five (Confined Race):
1 J M Turner’s King Plato (Suffolk) (J Owen),
2 Countess Cathcart’s Ain Tecbalet (West Norfolk) (G Greenock),
3 G Cooper’s Magic Lodge (Essex Farmers and Union (R Stearn).
Also: Gatchou Mans (4), Castle Prince (5), Marmalade Mountain (6), Zabadi (7), Pampered Gale (8), Dancing Ranger (pu), Jupiter George (pu), Just Magical (pu), Polo Ridge (pu). Three lengths, one length. 6.08. W £2.60. DF £6.80. SP 5-4 fav.
Race Six (Open Maiden Race):
1 S A Blyth’s The Stickler (South Notts) (B Pollock),
2 P Rackham’s Shot Of Jollop (Dunston Harriers) (N Bloom),
3 D Walker’s Luteur Des Pictons (Staff College and RMAS Drag) (P York).
Also: Pernickety King (4), Cosmic Sky (pu), Ernford Smokinjoe (ur), Golden Shred (pu), Sassparilla (pu), Shannon Quest (pu), Sleeping Music (pu). Fifteen lengths, head. 6.12. W £3. DF £5.60. SP 3-1 (Luteur Des Pictons 5-2 fav).
Pony Race One (Children’s Invitation Flat Race – Ponies 13.2hh and under): 1 Mrs N Baker’s Perryditch Tupelo (Edward Baker),
2 Mrs M Westwood’s Mickey Mouse (George Westwood),
3 Mrs L Tuthill’s Topsy Dancer (Juliet Chamberlain).
Also: Lily The Pink (4), Bling Bling, Merrylegs, Oliver, Puzzle, Roly Jo. Half a length, five lengths. 59.3sec.
Pony Race Two (Children’s Invitation Flat Race – Ponies 13.2hh to 14.2hh):
1 M Hale’s Tottington Time Out (William Hale),
2 Mrs L Greenlees’ My Chelsea Girl (Ysobel Greenlees),
3 Mrs T Clark’s Pilgrims Fantazar (Louisa Chamberlain).
Also: Wotsitallabout (4), Jeeves, Puzzle, Snow Goose. Half a length, five lengths. No time taken.