David Kemp, the trainer-rider from Kilverstone, near Thetford, was the man to follow at the North Norfolk Harriers Point-To-Point at Higham on Sunday.
But while his victory in the opening Maiden Race aboard Rydal Park was relatively plain sailing, Cantarinho, who sent favourite backers home happy with a narrow success in the closing Countryside Alliance Conditions Race, would have been a well beaten second to Peppershot had that rival not had a difference of opinion with his rider, Philip York, at the final fence when still cruising in a comfortable lead.
Ironically, Kemp’s spirits were at a low ebb on Saturday evening as his three runners had all fared disappointingly at a meeting at Detling in Kent where York rode a double of his own!
Cantarinho may not be the force of old but he should improve for this seasonal debut, especially given that this course’s sharp bends are not ideal, and will probably now go back to hunter chasing.
Rydal Park’s triumph was much less dramatic as, even though he regularly forfeited ground by jumping out to the right, he made every yard of the running to beat Basiliko by a distance.
Owned by the three-strong Oak Partnership, which includes Helen Robson, from Hatfield Broad Oak, and Giles Sim, from Shalford Green, this seven-year-old clocked a decent time and looks a useful recruit.
The other East Anglian success on an eight-race card was provided by Very Presentable, trained at North Weald by Perry Harding-Jones and a first winner of the season for jockey Matthew Mackley.
He toyed with some modest rivals in another section of the Maiden Race in what, owing to serious leg problems, was only his second run in the three years that he has been with his current connections.
It was a famous day for the Watson family, from Warwickshire. Not only did 19-year-old Jack Watson ride his first winner when High Rank benefitted from his superior handling to edge out El Viejo in a thrilling denouement to the Novice Riders Race.
But later Hannah, Jack’s older sister, got a wonderful tune out of Dumadic to land the Ladies’ Open by two lengths from Va Vavoom
An extremely sad footnote to this race was the death of Tartar Sabre, the Champion East Anglian Point-To-Pointer of 2007, who was staying on in third when he broke a shoulder in a last fence fall.
Bred by one of his owners, John Parker, this six-time winner is exactly the kind of horse this amateur sport is all about. He was a huge credit to his trainer, John Ibbott, from Chediston, near Halesworth, who was instrumental in allowing Tartar Sabre to kickstart the riding careers of both Lucinda Barrett-Nobbs and Marta Graholska.
The most impressive performance of the day came from Oxfordshire raider Mr Tee Pee who, despite only winning the Intermediate Race by three-quarters of a length, jumped and travelled superbly throughout and was quite brilliantly handled by the Welsh-based national champion jockey, James Tudor.
The Men’s Open saw another notable riding achievement as Dickie Barrett notched his 50th career success between the flags. His mount, the Northants visitor, Kjetil, kicked clear four from home and held the late thrust of Another Dude by two lengths.
Finally, Spanchil Hill, trained in West Sussex by Louise Dace and ridden by former Newmarket resident, Nick Pearce (who had now moved across the Thames), touched off Nomadic Blazeby a head in the third Maiden.
Race One (Open Maiden):
1 The Oak Partnership’s Rydal Park ( East Essex) (D Kemp),
2 P W Chapple-Hyam’s Basiliko (Granta Harriers) (J Owen),
3 R Kerry and Miss A Thompson’s Like to Go (Easton Harriers) (A Braithwaite).
A distance, 10 lengths. 6.08. SP 4-5 fav.
Race Two (PPORA Members):
1 H Franklin’s High Rank (Farmers Bloodhounds) (J Watson),
2 Mrs L Cannon’s El Viejo (Surrey Union) (T Cannon),
3 A Schofield’s Itsallupintheair (Waveney Harriers) (Miss M Graholska).
Neck, three lengths. 6.07. SP 7-2 (Nokimover 5-2 fav).
Race Three (Open Maiden Division One):
1, S Benson and Mrs L Dale’s Spanchil Hill (Chid, Lee and Cowdray) (N Pearce),
2 Mrs M Martin and M Ward’s Nomadic Blaze (Granta Harriers) (H Fowler),
3 Mrs A Crook’s Vulcan’s Ash (Grafton) (R J Barrett).
Head, three lengths. 6.16. SP 7-4 fav.
Race Four (Open Maiden Division Two):
1 D Harding-Jones’s Very Presentable (Puckeridge) (M Mackley),
2 J Greenwood’s Sealed Orders (West Norfolk) (J Owen), R Thomson’s On the Deck (Ashford Valley) (C Thomson).
10 lengths, a distance. 6.21. SP 5-4 fav.
Race Five (Intermediate):
1 The Teepee Club’s Mr Tee Pee (Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and South Berkshire) (J Tudor),
2 M Tuckey’s Pro-Am (Bicester with Whaddon Chase) (B Tuckey),
3 I Thurtle and R Abrey’s Forget the Ref (Suffolk) (R Stearn).
Three-quarters, five lengths. 6.14. SP 1-2 fav.
Race Six (Men’s Open):
1 Mrs M Moody’s Kjetil (Pytchley) (R Barrett),
2 Mr and Mrs R Abrey’s Another Dude (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
3 F Duffin’s Star Double (Dunston Harriers) (M Smith).
Two, five lengths. 6.03. SP 2-1 fav.
Race Seven (Ladies Open Race):
1 G Wright’s Dumadic (Farmers Bloodhounds) (Miss H Watson),
2 Mrs F Hawes’s Va Vavoom (Dunston Harriers) (owner),
3 S March’s Who Cares Wins (Essex and Suffolk) (Miss A Stennett).
Two lengths, 10 lengths. 6.04. SP 10-1 (Fullards evens fav).
Race Eight (Countryside Alliance Club members Conditions):
1 M Kemp and D Kemp’s Cantarinho (North Norfolk Harriers) (D Kemp),
2 S Robinson’s Lord Atterbury (East Sussex and Romney Marsh) (owner),
3 P Riddle’s Polar Scout (Grafton) (R Barrett).
Neck, two lengths. 6.12. SP 5-4 fav.