Close finishes were the order of the day at Horseheath, near Haverhill, on Saturday with half of the six races at the Puckeridge Point-To-Point decided by less than a length – including both the Open events.
In some ways it was a day to forget for Oxfordshire trainer Alan Hill as he provided the beaten odds-on favourite in each of those two tight Opens. However, as Hill rightly pointed out afterwards, a bad day is when one of your horses gets injured, rather than this meeting when his three runners managed two seconds and a fourth.
Sharp Suit was the first of the Hill hotpots to come up short in the Ladies Open race. A Cheltenham hunter chase winner last season, he did not travel or jump with any great zest and came up against a determined rival in It Was Me.
The pair were virtually level crossing the final obstacle but It Was Me, who is trained at Badlingham, near Newmarket, by Nick Wright and was beautifully ridden by Carey Williamson, who found a bit extra to score by three-quarters of a length.
Half an hour later and the Mens Open witnessed an almost carbon copy finish with the Hill representative, Ravethebrave, going down by half a length to Empire Builder.
The winner, who may now go for the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Hunter Chase Final at Cheltenham on April 29th, is trained in Northamptonshire by Gerald Bailey but is owned by Countess Cathcart, from Gateley, near Fakenham, and was ridden by her son, George Greenock.
The closing Restricted Race resulted in an even narrower victory with Curraigflemens, trained and ridden by David Kemp, from Croxton, near Thetford, just holding on by a neck from Biddles Bedouin.
Curraigflemens was following up his course and distance victory last month to complete a double at his local track for owner John Ridge, from Little Chishill, near Royston.
John Ferguson’s day job is as Bloodstock Adviser to Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, so he was unable to make it to Horseheath as he had weightier matters to attend to in the Arabian Gulf, namely watching his boss’s Prince Bishop win the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup.
But that did not stop the Cowlinge (near Newmarket) trainer from enjoying his second Pointing double in three weeks, this time both ridden by his son, James.
Both of the Ferguson victories were registered in emphatic style – first Colonel Iain (named after the jockey’s onlooking grandfather) in the Club Members race and then by Ronnie Lawson in the Intermediate Race.
Finally, Mr Raj, trained at Shenley in Hertfordshire by Tom Gallagher, outspeeded Beat The Index from the final fence to land the Maiden race under Tom Ellis.