By Mike Ashby

It was particularly pleasing for the local East Anglian enthusiasts to see four horses, trained in the region, race to victory in the Puckeridge and Essex fixture, held at Horseheath.

Over the years there has, sadly, been a decline in the number of horses in point-to-point training, based in the East Anglian region and from the 41 runners, on the day, only 13 came from trainers currently operating in the area.

Each East Anglian winner was enthusiastically welcomed back into the winners’ enclosure; none more so than Mens Open victor, Ragnar Lodbrok. Trained at Newmarket by Jenny Owen and ridden by Alex Chadwick this was the 9yo gelding’s seventh success from 10 outings; three being recorded at Horseheath. There was something amiss when Ragnar Lodbrok ran at the last meeting here, as he didn’t ‘eat up’, as normal, for four days after the race. However, he was back on song here and The Whiskey and Water partnership have been thrilled with their asset and a fine turn of speed, after all four runners jumped the last fence almost in unison, settled the outcome of the race by a length. This was Chadwick’s fourth winner in 7 days, including a hurdle success at Fakenham the previous day, and in his mind the outcome was “Never in doubt. He jumps well and when asked he always answers”


Jenny Owen had initiated a training double in the opening Conditions contest which saw Knight In Dubai supplement his previous course victory, last month, with a convincing success, under an ultra-confident ride by Rupert Stearn. The partnership was last of the nine runners going out on the final circuit, although there were only 5 lengths between first and last. Clondaw Westie was bowling along in front until unshipping Izzie Marshall at the top of the hill, five fences out. Good Source, the eventual runner-up and Knight In Dubai jumped alongside each other three out but the winner powered clear and was 6 lengths to the good at the last obstacle; a distance maintained through to the winning post.


Three runners lined up at the start of the Ladies Open event but the race was reduced to a match between Bawnmore and No Hassle Hoff as a result of their other rival, unseating at the first fence. The two remaining horses contested the whole race with no more than a couple of lengths between them with Kate Gowing on No Hassle Hoff, always just edging the lead. Try as they might, Bawnmore and Ellie Holder were still 2 ½ lengths adrift, at the winning post. This winner is owned by the Turner family from Ampton, near Bury St. Edmunds, and with trainer Ed away on skiing break, saddling duties fell to mum Rose and brother Ben who were naturally delighted by the performance of their entrant. The winning rider, Kate Gowing’ post-race summary of the race “ He’s a happy little horse and he enjoys that type of race. He jumped well and made my life easy ”. Ben Turner, himself,  had enjoyed a rather hectic week having attended the NFL Super Bowl in Las Vegas last Sunday to being at Horseheath a few days later. No wonder such comments were being bandied about, such as ‘ Ben touchdown Turner’ and you made a ‘Swift switch’ from Vegas to Horseheath !.


All the Ammunition, trained by David Kemp at Kilverstone, near Thetford, stepped up on his defeat by the useful Trojan du Berlais at the previous Horseheath meeting, when overcoming the front-running Touch Tight, on the run-in, by 1¾ lengths. Dale Peters had the ride and Kemp stated afterwards that the 7yo had been with them for 3 years and is a big horse and it has taken time for him to grow into his frame. The current plans are for him to stay pointing, in the near future.


The two successes achieved by trainers who operate outside the region were Largy Pearl ridden by Dale Peters and trained at Sawtry, near Peterborough, whilst Muckamore had travelled from Francesca Poste’s stables in Warwickshire giving Harry Arkwright his 6th career win, in the concluding novice riders’ race.

Largy Pearl came out on top in the Maiden race where 12 runners faced the starter and Jepsone was the early front-runner with the favourite, For One Night Only, and Jack Andrews always handy. The Borobudur was making his effort when falling while Bless The Moon began creeping into contention. Three out, Largy Pearl and For One Night Only had pulled clear of their rivals and the former jumped the last with 2 to 3 lengths in hand but a tight tussle took place on the run-in with a winning margin of a short-head being the judge’s verdict, in favour of Largy Pearl. Peters was ”not surprised” regarding today’s performance and “ he’s improving all the time” having been purchased privately out of Stuart Crawford’s Irish yard, after finishing 2nd in a Maiden on his Irish pointing debut in April 2023.


Muckamore’s victory was the second time he and Harry Arkwright had secured a win since they formed their partnership. They enjoyed an Edgcote success in April 2023 and there was an opportunity for a family celebration as Harry’s parents Arabella and Johnny, the owners of Muckamore, were in attendance to collect the trophy at the resultant presentation.


We have been treated to some exciting racing in the five meetings that have taken place, in East Anglia, and this was another outstanding day’s sport to bring the Horseheath fixtures to a close for another season.