Rupert Stearn had a day to remember at the Granta Harriers Point-To-Point at Higham on Sunday. Still looking for his first win of the season at the start of the afternoon, the 23-year-old from Wymondham reeled off three consecutive victories to post his first ever treble.
Most unexpected of the trio was Bob Justice, who defied odds of 16-1 to get the better of red hot favourite Caveman in the Countryside Alliance Club Members Race. The Bob Back gelding, once a high class performer in the professional ranks, had failed to complete the course in only three starts since joining the yard of Stearn’s father, Simon, almost two years ago.
But, sporting the colours of Bridgham’s Paul Rackham, he set off in front and refused to give way when Caveman drew alongside at the sixth last. He regained the advantage and had pulled over ten lengths clear when his stamina ran out approaching the last obstacle.
However, despite a tortuously slow final leap, he struggled home a length in front of the rallying market leader.
Earlier, Stearn twice hit the bullseye aboard horses trained at Wretham, near Thetford, by Robert Abrey. Firstly Another Dude came home miles clear in a Mens Open which saw only three of the six runners get round, then Forget The Ref proved three lengths too strong for the front-running Laharna in the Restricted Race.
Forget The Ref is part-owned by Ian Thurtle, a top East Anglian pointing pilot of the 1970s, and was led up by his daughter, Alice. She was already getting the better of the argument when the challenging Very Presentable crashed out at the last.
Another Dude has taken time to get back to his best since a piece of birch got embedded into his fetlock joint soon after he joined Abrey, requiring an operation. But he is firing on all cylinders now and may keep between the flags as he did not jump well when tried novice chasing under rules.
For a while it looked as if Stearn might complete an incredible four-timer in the closing Maiden. But, having made much of the running, his mount, Cadtauri, faded to finish third behind Northamptonshire raider Parakeet.
Like his eight rivals in this uninspiring contest, Parakeet is not the best of jumpers but he stayed on his feet to give his 49-year-old owner-trainer-rider, Ian Bostock, his first victory since way back in 1980!
The opening Hunts Club Members Race was an absolute thriller, Alittlemoreaction doing everything but fall at the final fence then rallying in the gamest possible fashion to catch Nokimover in the last few strides and deny Sam Vaughan-Jones, from Wells-next-the-Sea, a first winner in the saddle.
Alittlemoreaction was a first triumph for two years for trainer George Cooper, from Raydon, near Hadleigh, and rewarded his handler for some painstaking rehabilitation work since he pulled all the ligaments in his back in a fall in Kent last season.
Finally, the Ladies Open was won in impressive style by the Warwickshire visitor, Beet de Bob,who was giving his jockey, Hannah Watson, her third success from as many rides at this venue.
Race One (Granta Harriers Club Members Race):
1 T Burton and Lady J Green’s Alittlemoreaction (Essex and Suffolk)(P Bull),
2 Mrs A Vaughan-Jones and G Lock’s Nokimover (North Norfolk Harriers)(S Vaughan-Jones),
3 Miss T Ward, Miss R Ward and Miss F Ward’s Magic To Do (Granta Harriers) (Miss R Ward).
Also: Manoram (4), Tuesday’s Child (pu), Who Cares Wins (pu). Neck, three lengths. 6.21. SP 11-10 fav.
Race Two (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mr and Mrs R Abrey’s Another Dude (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
2 F Duffin’s Star Double (Dunston Harriers) (M Smith),
3 Mrs P King’s Rooster (Suffoilk) (H Fowler).
Also: Brown Teddy (ur), Hatsnall (ur), Noblefir (pu). Distance, two lengths. 6.10. SP 11-10 fav.
Race Three (Restricted Race):
1 R Thurtle and R Abrey’s Forget the Ref (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
2 Mrs J May’s Laharna (Essex and Suffoilk) (A Braithwaite),
3 Mr K Robin’s Ardaghman (Oakley) (M Smith).
Also: Mr Ambassador (4), The Nuns Legacy (5), Northsider (6), Court Award (f), Mr Bashir (pu), No Nay Never (pu), Very Presentable (f). Three lengths, three lengths. 6.12. SP 7-4 fav.
Race Four (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Mrs S Busby and G Wright’s Beet De Bob (Farmers Bloodhounds) (Miss H Watson),
2 A Hill’s Bell Rock (Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and S Berkshire) (Miss E Jarvis),
3 Mrs L Gibbon’s Make Haste Slowly (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (Miss R Chinery).
Only three ran. 6.13. Fifteen lengths, 10 lengths. SP 4-5 fav.
Race Five (Countryside Alliance Members Race):
1 P Rackham’s Bob Justice (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
2 Countess Cathcart’s Caveman (West Norfolk) (G Greenock),
3 Mrs L Cannon’s El Viejo (Surrey Union) (T Cannon).
Also: Native Performance (4), Luke Lively (5). One length, 15 lengths. 6.11. SP 16-1 (Caveman 1-3 fav).
Race Six (Open Maiden Race):
1 I Bostock’s Parakeet (Fitzwilliam Milton) (owner),
2 P J Millington’s Mirage Prince (Fernie) (owner),
3 Mrs S Webb and R Abrey’s Cadtauri (Suffolk) (R Stearn).
Also: Clonshire King (4), Black Cap (pu), Hazzard a Guess (pu), Loose Morals (pu). Five lengths, three lengths. 6.24. SP 10-1 (Loose Morals 2-1fav).