Trainer Nick Wright notched his eighth success from just 16 runners during what has been a remarkable season when the winning machine that is It Was Me sauntered away with the Ladies Open at the Puckeridge Point-To-Point at Horseheath, near Haverhill, on Saturday.
Wright has orchestrated a phenomenal purple patch for this eight-year-old gelding who has now won eight times since joining his Badlingham, near Newmarket, yard some 18 months ago.
None of those triumphs have been as easy as this one as, after his most dangerous rival, Maranach, suffered a most unfortunate serious injury, he coasted home a distance ahead of The Laodicean.
Another trainer who moved on to the eight-winner mark was Andrew Pennock, from Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds, thanks to The Rattler O’Brien in the Intermediate Race. Again the contest was landed with disdainful ease to help jockey Ben Rivett, from Sharrington, Norfolk, strengthen his lead at the head of the County Linen Services East Anglian Jockeys Championship standings.
Pennock admitted to having been a bag of nerves beforehand. “I was very worried that the race might come too soon, just six days after he won at Fakenham. But I ride him all the time at home and he felt okay.”
Pennock and Rivett also went close in the Open Maiden but their representative, American Eagle, had to settle for second place, a length and a quarter behind Fitobust.
The winner had been extremely unruly during the preliminaries, at one stage biting the hand of his Oxfordshire-based trainer, Alan Hill. He was still moody in the early stages of the race itself but gradually warmed up and was never going better than at the winning post.
The Mens Open witnessed a ready and most deserving winner in the shape of New Alco. He answered every call of his young pilot, Max Kendrick, from Assington near Sudbury, in defeating Art Trend by three lengths.
Winning trainer Tory Hayter, from Newmarket, was quick to deflect some of the congratulations on to her farrier, Steven Rust. “New Alco has terrible problems getting puss in his feet and Steven deserves a lot of the credit as he has to run in specially-made shoes,” she revealed.
Lauren Braithwaite was a second Newmarket trainer to visit the winner’s enclosure, in her case after her husband, Andrew, had partnered West Of The Road to a half-length score in the most exciting race of the day, the Restricted.
West Of The Road and the half-length runner-up, Empire Builder, went at it hammer and tongs vying for the lead for all bar half a mile of the three mile journey and were still locked together halfway up the run-in, where the winner’s superior stamina kicked in.
The opening Members Race saw an upturn in fortune for both trainer Clare Hobson and her horse, Irish Rebel. Hobson, from Reed in Hertfordshire, was claiming her first victory of the season less than a week after breaking her left wrist in a race fall at Fakenham.
This meant that she had to give up the ride on Irish Rebel, who himself was running just four days after he had flopped badly in a hunter chase at Towcester. The lucky beneficiary in the saddle was Richard Spencer, who mainly rides in the Midlands and was visiting Horseheath for the first time having recently begun working for Newmarket flat trainer Michael Bell.
GOING: GOOD TO FIRM
Horseheath Hunts Club Members
1 – IRISH REBEL Richard Spencer 6/1
2 – Bai Zhu James Ferguson 4/7f
3 – Oppera Richard Collinson
Time 6 mins 13 secs Dists: 8L, Dist 4 ran
1 – FITOBUST Joe Hill 5/1
2 – American Eagle Ben Rivett
3 – Mass Hysteria Gina Andrews
Time 6-25 Dists: 1 ½L, Dist 9 ran ( Floreat 2/1 f FELL )
1 – IT WAS ME Carey Williamson 2/5f
2 – The Laodicean Lucy Saunders
3 – Finnish Melody Gina Andrews
Time 6-15 Dists: Dist, Neck 5 ran
1 – NEW ALCO Max Kendrick 2/5f
2 – Art Trend James Owen
3 – Defying Gravity Tom Ellis
1 – THE RATTLER O’BRIEN Ben Rivett 1/2f
2 – Mister Tibus Richard Collinson
Only two finished.
Time 6-17 Dists: Dist 5 ran
1 – WEST OF THE ROAD Andrew Braithwaite 5/2
2 – Empire Builder George Greenock
3 – Clonshire Gina Andrews 6/4f
Time 6-13 Dists: ½L, 3L 5 ran