Gurney and Josie Sheppard know only too well that owning and training a Point-To-Point winner can be a painstaking business, but when the big day arrives it all proves so very worthwhile, as was demonstrated twice over at Horseheath on Saturday.
The Sheppards, from Ashwell, near Royston, have their own way of doing things – buying foals from Ireland and then looking after them for a minimum of four years before they can even set foot on a racecourse.
On Saturday, their patience was rewarded when Fair Exchange lifted the Intermediate Race and Uncle Buck followed up in the second division of the Maiden Race. Both were sympathetically ridden by Paul Taiano, who succeeded in not subjecting his charges to hard races on ground that was officially ‘firm’.
Fair Exchange was notching his fourth course success. Explaining his eclipse at the previous Horseheath meeting, Gurney Sheppard (who was celebrating his 62nd birthday a day early) said: “He is a horse who cannot run too often and that race may have come too quickly after his previous run.”
Like his stablemate, Uncle Buck is a good prospect for the future. He had to show good fighting qualities in the closing stages to get the better of Judicial Queen by three lengths, especially since he was later found to have ripped off a front shoe.
It was something of a family benefit on Saturday, as Josie Sheppard’s father, Joe Turner, from Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds, also enjoyed a double, including Emsee-H, who was guided to success in the Ladies’ Open by Mrs Sheppard’s niece, Zoe.
The Turners felt confident enough to leave their stable star, Spring Gale, as no more than a travelling companion to the 15-year-old Emsee-H. Their judgement proved correct as, brought with a perfectly-timed run at the third last, Emsee-H defied a 7lb penalty by coming home two lengths in front of another veteran, Larry The Lamb.
The Turner duo was completed in rather fortunate circumstances in the Restricted Open.
Ar Aghaidh Abhaile, whose gaelic name translates to ‘head for home’, did exactly that when swerving to his left, towards the horsebox park, having jumped the last fence with a clear lead. This handed the advantage to Mister Audi, who stayed on to score by half a length under Andrew Sansome.
The boot was on the other foot in the Men’s Open, as the Turner representative, Prince of Saints, held the upper hand prior to a slow jump at the final obstacle. The hot favourite, Hatcham Boy, seized his chance, running on strongly under Christian Ward-Thomas to overhaul his rival by three-quarters of a length.
Fatherhood clearly agrees with jockey Alan Coe, from Layer Marney, near Tiptree. His eight-day-old first born, Charlie, was on hand to witness his Members’ Race victory aboard Lord Knox, who is trained at Bennington, near Stevenage, by Mick Clark.
“Michaela was going into labour last Friday at about the time that I was being buried at the first fence in a Hunter Chase at Newbury,” the ever- jovial Coe revealed. Since then, he has ridden his first two winners of the season, beginning at Cottenham the day after the birth.
The finish to the opening division of the Maiden was a version of ‘The Little and Large Show’ as Abbey Flyer, a first winner for Buckinghamshire trainer Shirley Brazier, proved one length too strong for the Philip Rowe- trained Curracloe Rose, who battled on gamely despite being dwarfed by her fellow combatant.
Race One (Hunt Race):
1 B Clark’s Lord Knox (Puckeridge) (A Coe),
2 J Braithwaite’s Borrow Mine (Puckeridge) (A Braithwaite),
3 A Harvey’s Nosy Parker (Puckeridge) (owner).
Also: Sixth Sence (ur). 2« lengths, 20 lengths. 6m 37s. W œ1.70. DF œ1.70. SP 1-2fav.
Race Two (Intermediate Race):
1 Mrs M G Sheppard’s Fair Exchange (Cambridgeshire) (P Taiano),
2 The Marriage Family’s Alfredo Garcia (Essex) (N Bloom),
3 J M Turner’s Generous Deal (Suffolk) (A Sansome).
Also: Royal Surprise (4), Aeolian (pu). 15 lengths, 10 lengths. 6m 28s. W œ1.40. DF œ1.40. SP 1-3fav.
Race Three (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 J M Turner’s Emsee-H (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),
2 Miss V Hayter’s Larry The Lamb (Suffolk) (owner),
3 Mrs W J Tolhurst’s Kelly’s Original (Essex and Suffolk) (Mrs T Hill).
Also: Salmon Mead (4), Peanuts Pet (5). Two lengths, eight lengths. 6m 20s. W œ2.10. DF œ3.90. SP 5-4 (Kelly’s Original 11-10fav).
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson’s Hatchman Boy (Suffolk) (C Ward-Thomas),
2 J M Turner’s Prince Of Saints (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
3 Messrs Williams and Lascelles’ Mister Trick (Pytchley) (N King).
Also: Koathary (4), Royal Action (5), Chris’ Lad (pu). ó length, 10 lengths. 6m 22s. W œ1.40. DF œ3.20. SP 1-3fav.
Race Five (Restricted Race):
1 J M Turner’s Mister Audi (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
2 Miss S Wallace’s Ar Aghaidh Abhaile (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (G Cooper),
3 Mr and Mrs A Humphrey’s Holmby Copse (Dunston) (A Humphrey).
Also: Free and Equal (4), Bakmalad (5), Airecco (pu). « length, eight lengths. 6m 27s. W œ1.60. DF œ1.30. SP 4-5fav.
Race Six (Maiden Race Division One):
1 Mrs J Woollatt’s Abbey Flyer (Bicester with Whaddon Chase) (T Illsley),
2 P J Rowe’s Curracloe Rose (Puckeridge) (D Cook),
3 P J Millington’s Polly Live Wire (Fernie) (owner).
Also: Life Of A Star (4), Cardinal Bud (5), Coolest By Phar (6), Dilly May Dally (pu). One length, 15 lengths. 6m 43s. W œ4.70. DF œ4.60. SP 3-1 (Cardinal Bud 2-1fav).
Race Seven (Maiden Race Division Two):
1 Mr M Sheppard’s Uncle Buck (Cambridgeshire) (P Taiano),
2 Mr and Mrs A Owen’s Judicial Queen (Bicester) (A Sansome),
3 B Clark and Miss C Lucas’ Glencoy (Puckeridge) (A Coe).
Also: Steel My Song (4), Craftbook Marchesa (ur), Bakewell (pu), Midnight Dynamite (withdrawn – not under starters orders). Three lengths, « length. 6m 36s. W œ2.30. DF œ5.50. SP 4-7fav.