An incredible weekend of East Anglian Point-To-Point racing saw over 190 horses contest 17 races run at the two meetings, leaving even the most ardent fans agreeing that saturation point had almost been reached.
Saturday’s venue was Horseheath, which was produced in immaculate condition for the Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace fixture. On Sunday the spotlight moved to a wind-ravaged Higham for the North Norfolk Harriers meeting.The main Higham administration tent blew down just hours before the action was due to start. The quick-thinking organisers improvised by using a pair of horseboxes as the jockeys’ changing rooms and were rewarded with a nine-race bonanza that ran from noon until dusk.
But four sets of owners were left disgruntled after their horses were denied a run in the Novice Riders’ Race after the stewards decided that there was not enough daylight to allow a tenth race.
The two equine stars of the show at Horseheath were Gallant Glen and Fane Counsel – one a horse who has risen almost to the top of the Pointing tree and another which is surely destined to do so.Gallant Glen is set to bid for the sport’s holy grail – the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham next month – after seeing off some useful rivals in the Men’s Open. Trainer Perry Harding-Jones, from North Weald, said afterwards that the 11-year-old will now make the step up to Hunter Chasing and is likely to have one more run before Cheltenham.Fane Counsel could easily turn out to be good enough for Cheltenham judged by his demolition of 17 opponents in the Restricted Race. Trained near Shrewsbury by Sheila Crow and making his British debut having won between the flags in Ireland last year, Fane Counsel was ridden by the National Champion Jockey, Richard Burton. Soon clear, the others barely saw which way he went and he was able to saunter home a distance ahead of Present Moment.
Tim Lane was the top Horseheath jockey, getting the better of two very tight finishes to notch a double. First he took the Members’ Race as General Confusion edged out The Glen Road,then he followed up in the Young Horse Maiden when Hi Tech Man just held the late thrust of Briery Fox.
The first of two divisions of the Older Horse Maiden produced the third ‘head’ margin of the day when Sussex raider Battle Honours touched off the Norfolk challenger, Here Comes Choosey.
The other Maiden went the way of Towcester-trained Wincy Spider while there was a 20-1 surprise in the Ladies’ Open as Macfin, ridden by his Peterborough trainer, Louise Allan, responded well to the application of sheepskin cheekpieces to beat Tom Cobbler by two lengths.
The only man to ride a winner at both weekend meetings was David Kemp, who lifted the PPORA Club Race at Horseheath with Bard of Drumcoo and the Restricted Race at Higham with Cantarinho. Kemp, 24, from Kilverstone near Thetford, has only recently taken over the training responsibilities for his family’s string and would have landed a treble but for Nowornever’s poor jumping throwing away victory in the Horseheath Members Race.
Cantarinho in particular is a horse to follow. Only a six-year-old and still very inexperienced, he overcame a bad blunder at the second last to regain the lead from Snowtre on the run-in and score by a head.
Higham’s Maiden Race, which was divided after last weekend’s entry stage, amazingly split twice more on the day and all four sections were won by horses from south of the Thames.
Thankfully, all but one of the day’s other trophies remained in East Anglian hands, including the silverware for both the Open Races.Homme de Fer, who was bought out of Kim Bailey’s National Hunt yard in the summer by Countess Cathcart, from Gateley, near Fakenham, landed the Men’s Open under his Wymondham trainer, Nigel Bloom.
And the Ladies’ version saw an impressive success for Placid Man, trained in Newmarket by Tim Bryce. Placid Man made every yard of the running and pilot Alex Embiricos suffered her most worrying moment approaching the last fence when forced to take part in a barging match with a loose horse.
Finally, Royal Action and trainer-rider Paul Chinery gained a second success of the season in the Novice Riders Race. Royal Action is a cheaply-bought family horse, who is kept on the Chinery’s farm at Great Yeldham, and this kind of result is just what the sport is all about.
Race one (Maiden Race – Division One, part one):
1 R York’s Charango Star (Staff College and RMAS Drag) (P York),
2 L McCurrich, J Doolittle and Miss T McCurrich’s Sovereign Gale (Clifton-on-Teme) (M Harris),
3 Mrs A Villar and P Beeton-Brown’s Golden Shred (Suffolk) (S Morris).
Also: Marciano (4), Sharp Sarah (5), All Eyez On Me (pu), Barry Lydon (pu), Divine Mist (ur), Madmidge (ur). Ten lengths, a distance. 6.14. W £4. DF £29. SP 4-1 (Madmidge 2-1 fav).
Race two (Maiden Race – Division One, part two):
1 M Smith’s Asthefellowsaid (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (A Hickman),
2 M Robinson’s Troubleshooter (Burton) (M Mackley),
3 A Winchester’s Manhatton Storm (E Anglian Bloodhounds) (N Bloom).
Also: Sister Ali (4), Castlediva (f), Conquistador (f), Dolitanlad (pu), Lancastrian Island (pu), Miss Biddy (pu). Three lengths, a distance, 6.12. W £3.20. DF £3.70. SP 5-4 fav.
Race three (Maiden Race – Division Two, part one):
1 S Robinson’s Greybrook Lad (Southdown and Eridge) (owner),
2 J Ratcliffe’s Vivaldi Rose (Grove and Rufford) (N Walker),
3 The Cherry Tree Partnership’s Bebe Bleu (North Norfolk Harriers) (C Ward-Thomas).
Also: Donnini (f), Pendils Charm (ur), Rumour Has It (pu), Tartar Sabre (ur), Marsden (withdrawn not under orders). A distance, 20 lengths. 6.13. W £2. DF £6.50. SP 2-1 fav (deduction 5p in the pound).
Race four (Maiden Race – Division Two, part two):
1 R H York’s Morph (Staff College and RMAS Drag) (P York),
2 Mr and Mrs H Hill’s Half A Story (Granta Harriers) (A Williams),
3 D Wales and S Wood’s Play Alone (West Norfolk) (N Bloom).
Also: Waterliner (4), Cerasus Knight (pu), General Hopkins (pu), Joves Shadow (bd), No Penalty (f). Twenty lengths, 10 lengths. 6.13. W £1.20. DF £7.50. SP 4-6 fav.
Race five (PPORA Members’ Race for Novice Riders):
1 A Chinery’s Royal Action (East Essex) (P Chinery),
2 Mrs C Andrew’s Naughty Dandy (Ashford Valley) (owner),
3 The Marriage Family’s Pampered Gale (Essex) (Miss N Barnes).
Also: Village Copper (4), Treasure Dome (5), Tomcappagh (6), Castle Road (7), Buckland Bobby (8), Brave Albert (ur), Brown Chieftain (f), Coole Chief (pu), Henwyn (bd), Mr Moonbeam (pu), Table For Four (pu), Thurles Pickpocket (pu). A distance, 20 lengths. 6.13. W £2. DF £50. SP 2-1 fav.
Race six (Men’s Open Race):
1 Countess Cathcart’s Homme De Fer (West Norfolk) (N Bloom),
2 J Callow’s Philtre (Worcestershire) (A Wintle),
3 R Hunnisett’s Shanavogh (Pytchley) (owner).
Also: Fine Times (4), Galeaway (ur), Mat Point (5), Glemot (ur), King Of The Dawn (pu), Militaire (pu), Rathnally Park (pu). Five lengths, 15 lengths. 6.03. W £4.80. DF £10. SP 5-1 (Shanavogh 11-10 fav).
Race seven (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 T Jones and Partners’ Placid Man (Cambs University) (Ms A Embiricos),
2 J M Turner’s Celtic Duke (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),
3 W Tolhurst’s Paradisio (Essex and Suffolk) (Miss A Stennett).
Also: Le Prince (4), Mackoy (5), Grand Ambition (pu), Heaven Is Above (ur), Hoodwinker (pu), Karzhang (pu), Step In Line (pu). A distance, 1½ lengths. 5.59. W £2. DF £25. SP 5-4 fav.
Race eight (Countryside Alliance Club Members’ Conditions Race):
1 Mrs M Robinson’s Martha’s Boy (Mid Surrey Farmers Drag) (D Dunsdon),
2 T W C Edwards’ Lord Kilpatrick (Albrighton Woodland) (T Edwards),
3 Mr and Mrs S Embiricos’ Highland Rose (Thurlow) (Ms A Embiricos).
Also: Leatherback (4), Adamatic (pu), Merry Minstrel (f), Mr Nabarro (pu), Optimistic Thinker (pu), Persian Bandit (pu), Santi (pu), Tea Box (pu), Valman (pu). Two lengths, 10 lengths. 6.07. W £4.20. DF £4.80. SP 5-4 fav.
Race nine (Restricted Race):
1 Mr and Mrs R Harrison and D Kemp’s Cantarinho (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 J Callow’s Snowtre (Albrighton Woodland) (A Wintle),
3 J M Turner’s Captive (Suffolk) (J Owen).
Also: Always Good (4), Sydney Hobart (5), Ballylesson (f), Broad Edge (pu), Camden Loch (pu), Henry Henbit (pu), Jacob’s Choice (pu), Jims Belief (ur), Lambrini King (pu), Lone Star (pu), Regal Bride (pu). Head, 10 lengths. 6.10. W £2.60. DF £11. SP 11-10 fav.