The Granta Harriers Point-To-Point at Higham on Saturday produced remarkable underfoot conditions that were just on the fast side of good despite the recent deluge and the meeting was rewarded with some top class racing.
It was dominated by the Guildford yard of owner Richard Cook and trainer Chrissie Elliott, who won with all three of their runners – Labula Bay, Noyan and Posh Spice – to notch their first ever treble.
All triumphed in stylish fashion, but most impressive of the trio was Noyan, who jumped extravagantly under Alyson Deniel in the Ladies’ Open, beating Bitofamixup by a distance in the fastest time of the day.
Noyan had been forced to miss his bid to land a second successive Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown on Friday because of soft ground. His next start is likely to be under rules, with a tilt at the Cheltenham Foxhunters on March 15 a possibility if the word ‘firm’ appears in the going description.
Labula Bay earned rave reviews after his six length defeat of Daydreamer in the Restricted Race. Cook reported that he could be “one of the best I have ever owned” while Elliott said that he could tackle a Novice Hunter Chase before the end of the season.
Posh Spice completed the treble in the March UK Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Mares’ Race. Ridden, like Labula Bay, by the talented 18-year-old David Dunsdon, Posh Spice’s task was simplified by the second fence demise of her market rival, Stormy Words, and she made almost all the running to beat Denarii by five lengths.
The training talents of Northamptonshire handler Caroline Bailey have long been acclaimed and she proved herself yet again when bringing back The Auctioneer from a two-year absence to win the Men’s Open Race.
Owned in partnership by Colin Bazley, from Saffron Walden, and Pat Rowe, from nearby Clavering, The Auctioneer has been something of a Cottenham course specialist in the past and he seemed to be pining for a return to that right-handed venue as he jumped violently to his right throughout.
Jockey Rowan Cope did a great job in keeping the ground he forfeited to a minimum and his mount held off the late thrust of Sorcerer’s Drum by a length with Pangeran just half a length further adrift in third.
Sorcerer’s Drum was a first ride for 16-year-old Greshams schoolboy, Rupert Stearn, who rode a well-judged waiting race and should have a decent future at this game.
Another young man to excel himself was the 20-year-old owner-trainer-jockey, Michael Grange, who got off the mark aboard Leap Frog in the closing Members’ Race.
Grange, from Keyston, near Huntingdon, kicked on with four fences to jump and had two lengths in hand from the improving Campbellhill at the line.
Finally, Have No Doubt, trained by owner Luke Dace at Pulborough in West Sussex, will surely go on to better things after blitzing his 13 rivals in the Maiden Race.
Ridden by Andrew Hickman, he kept up a relentless gallop to beat Glass Breaker by a distance and, despite being heavily eased in the closing stages, clocked a very fast time.
Race One (Open Maiden Race):
1 L Dace’s Have No Doubt (Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent) (A Hickman),
2 C Hay’s Glass Breaker (Cambridge University Draghounds) (N King),
3 Mrs N Pollock’s Rain Delay (Fernie) (T Lane);
also African Leader (pu), Dreamisle (f), Grey Fusilier (pu), Henry Tartar (ur), He’s A Lad (f), Itsmyturnnow (pu), Marmalade Mountain (pu), Play Alone (pu), Professor Tag (ur), Spikey Passage (pu), Stick Or Bust (pu). A distance, a distance. 6m15s. W £7.20. DF £87.00 winner with third. SP 3-1 (He’s A Lad 2-1fav).
Race Two (Men’s Open Race):
1 C Bazley and Mrs P Rowe’s The Auctioneer (Pytchley) (R Cope),
2 S Stearn’s Sorcerer’s Dream (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
3 Mrs A McVay and R Oliver-Smith’s Pangeran (Suffolk) (N King);
also Tell The Nipper (4), Dockmaster (5), Ballygar Boy (pu), Barna Boy (f), Eden’s Close (pu), El Rubio (pu), Lake Of Loughrea (pu), Society Lad (pu), Spuffington (ur), Still In Business (ur), Tight Fist (pu), Who Am I (ur). One length, half a length. 6m15s. W £2.20. DF £32.00. SP 5-4fav.
Race Three (Restricted Race):
1 H Cook’s Labula Bay (SC and RMAS Drag) (D Dunsdon),
2 A Hickman & The Guy Fawkes Partnership’s Daydreamer (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (A Hickman),
3 P Bull, Mrs S Lloyd and E Howes’ Larkus Aurelius (Ashford Valley) (P Bull);
also Ar Aghaidh Abhaile (4), Ardluck (5), Just The Business (6), Harry Tartar (7), As You Like It (pu), Cicero’s Law (ur), Colemore Green (pu), Don’s Delight (ur), Eveies Boy (pu), Florida Jacko (ur), Glad All Over (fell), In The Stocking (ur), Mossy Buck (ur), Pull On (bd), Royal Way (ro), Time For Another (pu). Six lengths, ten lengths. 6m 17s. W £11.60. DF £12.50. SP 8-1 (Daydreamer 6-4fav).
Race Four (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 R Cook’s Noyan (Surrey Union) (Miss A Deniel),
2 M Robert’s Bitofamixup (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (Miss C Jiggins),
3 J Stevens’ Thurles Pickpocket (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (Mrs S Hodge);
also General Assembly (4), Premier First (5), Cracking Idea (6), Island Vision (7), Abuljjood (8), Dawn Alert (f), Red Channel (pu), Thatcham Island (f), The Cockertoo (pu). A distance, half a length. 6m 09s. W £2.40. DF £7.00. SP 4-6fav.