Fire On Ice was an aptly-named winner in arctic conditions at the North Norfolk Harriers Point-To-Point at Higham on Saturday.
Owners Sarah Turner and Dave Sibley, from Great Bromley, near Colchester, must have thought that their chances had gone up in smoke when Fire On Ice crashed through the second last fence having built up a clear lead in the Confined Race.
But trainer-rider Neil King somehow kept the partnership intact. Having scraped Fire On Ice’snose off the floor, he regained the eight-year-old’s momentum and the pair survived another sketchy leap at the last to defeat the red hot favourite, Ballydesmond, by eight lengths.
King was thrilled when Turner, who he had known since childhood through her position as whipper-in to the Suffolk Hunt, asked him last summer to find and train a horse to win a Point-To-Point.
Turner’s initial impressions when shown Fire On Ice in a field (“he had the shortest legs and the fattest stomach” remembers King’s girlfriend, Anne-Marie Hayes) were far from favourable, but the Whepstead handler promised that he was the right horse for the job, and so it has proved.
Regally-bred, by the top flat stallion, Sadler’s Wells, Fire On Ice showed his toughness here, having had a hard race when third at Cottenham only six days previously, and his late jumping errors were out of character.
Helena Justina, in the second division of the Maiden Race, was the only other East Anglian victory on a day when some competitive sport did its best to warm up the shivering crowd.
A seven-year-old daughter of the useful chaser, Jennie Pat, Helena Justina is a name for your notebooks. The time of her ten length victory over Fountain Bank was slow, but this was her first career start, and the way that she came from some way off the pace to score without jockey Paul Taiano ever having to get serious was most impressive.
She is trained in partnership by George Paul and her joint owner, Gi d’Angibau, at Wherstead, near Colchester. Earlier in her career, she spent a year with the record-breaking National Hunt trainer, Martin Pipe, but, bizarrely, he never managed to get her to the racecourse.
An even more long-awaited debut victory was scored by Appley Dapply in the PPORA Novice Riders’ Race. Although she was bred in North Norfolk by the family of the East Anglian Point-To-Point Area Secretary, Will Barber, Appley Dapply has spent most of her life team chasing with owner, Mike Roberts, who lives at Hailsham, near Eastbourne, in Sussex.
Her smooth defeat of Commasarris also provided a belated initial triumph for 25-year-old Catherine Jiggins, who gave a remarkably polished display in the saddle given that it was her first ever ride.
Another young lady rider to excel was Tory Hayter, from Glemsford, near Sudbury. She partnered Mary Bousquet-Payne’s Uron V into second place behind the much more experienced Emma Coveney, aboard the Kent raider, Strong Medicine, in the Ladies’ Open Race.
Caroline Bailey, the champion Point-To-Point trainer, lifted both the Open races at Cottenham the previous weekend, and this time she scored with her only runner as My Shout was driven to a hard-fought success in the Men’s Open Race by Ben Pollock.
Ballinure Boy, another visitor from Sussex who is trained at Rye by Sarah Hickman and was ridden by her husband, Andrew, landed the opening Maiden, while Cebu Gale, who had made the seven-hour round trip from Jo Hughes’ yard near Grantham, won the Intermediate Race under Mark Hewitt.
Race One (Maiden Race – Division One):
1 Mrs E Turtle’s Ballinure Boy (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (A Hickman),
2 Mr M Robert’s The Herbivore (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (B Hitchcott),
3 Mr and Mrs S Howlett’s On Target (Dunston Harriers) (N Bloom);
also Call The Tune (4), Fair Alley (5), Johnny Cool (6), Bachelor-Carrasco (bd), Casino Nell (pu), City Run (pu), County Derry (pu), Arry’s Away (pu), River Surprise (pu), Second Thoughts (f), Sidney Street (pu), Teluk (pu), Tom’s Lad (f). Eight lengths, four lengths. 6m 20s. W œ2.30. DF œ18. SP 9-4fav.
Race Two (Maiden Race – Division Two):
1 Mr B Kilpatrick and Mrs G D’Angibau’s Helena Justina (Essex and Suffolk) (P Taiano),
2 Mr T Alexander’s (Easton Harriers) Fountain Bank (M Gingell),
3 Mrs N Oldring, Mr A Kemp and Mr K Irving’s Highfurlong (Bicester and Whaddon Chase) (J Oldring);
also Doran’s Joy (4), The Secret Grey (5), Artic Lodge (f), Cicero’s Law (pu), Citizen Band (pu), Duke Of Tula (pu), Outside The Rain (pu), Primula’s Daghter (f), Spectre (f), Tuath Deuchainne (pu). Ten lengths, eight lengths. 6m 29s W œ3.20. DF œ74. SP 7-1. (Highfurlong 6-4fav).
Race Three (PPORA Club Race for Novice Riders):
1 Mr M Roberts’ Appley Dapply (Mid Surrey Farmers Drag) (Miss C Jiggens),
2 Miss M Howie’s Commasarris (Old Surrey and Burstow) (P Blagg),
3 Mrs J Hughes’ Fern Leader (Cranwell Bloodhounds) (owner);
also Neelisagin (4), Golden Mac (5), Borrow Mine (6), Ishma (7), Master Chuzzlewit (8), Limited Liability (f), Royal Artic (pu), Target Time (pu). 12 lengths, four lengths. 6m 21s W œ8.40. DF œ24. SP 12-1 (Commasarris 2-1fav).
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mrs D Flory’s My Shout (Pytchley) (B Pollock),
2 Mr M Roberts’ Prince Buck (E Sussex and Romney Marsh) (B Hitchcott),
3 Mrs P Tetley’s Bas De Laine (Surrey Union) (A Hickman);
also Jack The TD (4), Broguestown Pride (5), Airtrak (pu), Prince Of Saints (pu), Reuter (pu). One length, one and a half engths. 6m 15s. W œ2. DF œ5.50. SP 4-5fav.
Race Five (Intermediate Race):
1 Mr R Grays’s Cebu Gale (Cranwell Bloodhounds) (M Hewitt),
2 Mrs K Pilkington’s Just One Question (Enfield Chace) (A Harvey),
3 Mrs L Stock’s Kincora (West Street Tickham) (owner);
also Newton Rambler (4), The Millmaster (5), Barron Bay (pu), Court Amber (pu), Generous Deal (pu), Street Trader (pu), Sultan Of Swing (pu). Three lengths, 10 lengths. 6m 17s W œ51. DF œ30.50. SP 8-1 (Kincora 2-1fav).
Race Six (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Dr D Silk’s Strong Medicine (Kent and Surrey Bloodhounds) (Miss E Coveney),
2 Mrs E Bousquet-Payne’s (Miss T Hayter),
3 The Magellan Partnership’s Andrelot (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (Miss C Grissell);
also Laughing Fontaine (4), Emsee-H (pu), Haunting Music (ur), Mill O’The Rags (ur), Red Channel (pu), Velka (ur). Three lengths, two lengths. 6m 21s W œ3.60. DF œ16.50. SP 5-4fav.
Race Seven (Confined Hunts Race):
1 Mr D Sibley and Miss S Turner’s Fire On Ice (Suffolk) (N King),
2 Sir C Keswick and Mr C Sporborg’s Ballydesmond (Puckeridge) (S Sporborg),
3 Miss A Webb’s Going Around (Easton Harriers) (M Gingell);
also Carson City (4), Hizal (5), Candle Glow (ur), Dynamite Dan (pu); eight lengths, a distance. 6m 28s W œ3.60. DF œ3.30. SP 5-2 (Ballydesmond 4-6fav).