Old rivals Rydal Park and Caveman again fought out a thrilling finish in the Men’s Open highlight of a sun-baked Puckeridge Point-To-Point in front of large crowd at Horseheath on Saturday.
The pair had met twice before this season, with the score standing at one-all, although Rydal Park’s win had come by the narrowest possible margin at Marks Tey on March 21.A similar scenario looked likely as Caveman, trained at Wymondham by Nigel Bloom, drew alongside the front-running Rydal Park after the fourth last fence.
But Rydal Park found an extra gear and though, to his great credit, Caveman stayed on gamely all the way up the final hill, Rydal Park proved two and a half lengths too strong on this occasion.
The victory was the start of a great day for Rydal Park’s trainer-rider, David Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford, as he also scored on his only other mount, Dan Kahtan, in the Restricted Race.
Still wearing the brown and yellow colours of Rydal Park’s three-strong ownership team, The Oak Partnership, Kemp once more set out to make all the running and, with Dan Kahtanjumping exuberantly, came home five lengths ahead of the favourite, Fealeside Lord.
There was some poetic justice in the result as Dan Kahtan had given Kemp a crashing fall at the previous Horseheath meeting, leaving his pilot sidelined for a week during which he missed out on two winners.
Rydal Park can now be considered East Anglia’s top Men’s horse of the season, and the accolade for the region’s leading young horse must surely go to Lotta Presents, who had no trouble in brushing aside his four rivals in the Club Members Race.
Ridden by James Owen, from Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds, Lotta Presents is trained at Cowlinge, near Newmarket, by his owner, John Ferguson. This was his third success of the year and Ferguson now intends to send him for the Conolly’s Red Mills Hunter Chase final at Cheltenham on May 5.
Owner-trainer Joe Turner, from Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds, made it five wins in the previous eight days when King du Berlais was guided by Newmarket’s Louise Allan to a comfortable success in the Ladies’ Open.
But it was not all plain sailing for Turner’s string as Native Bob had to give best to the Gloucestershire raider, Ashwell Lad, despite being sent off favourite for a two-runner Intermediate Race.It has been a remarkable week for Ashwell Lad’s rider, Tom Weston, as he had the thrill of a lifetime on Thursday when winning the Aintree Foxhunter over the Grand National fences on Silver Adonis.
Finally, the former Turner stable jockey, Andrew Sansome, who is now retired and based in the Midlands, returned to one of his favourite courses in the capacity of owner-breeder to lift the Maiden Race with the exciting five-year-old, Spotthestripe.