Point-To-Point Racing at Cottenham, near Cambridge, signed off for another season in the most extraordinary fashion with five of the six runners falling in the final race of the campaign there at the Cambridge University Draghounds fixture on Saturday (February 11th).
Up until the three mile Maiden Race, the penultimate race on the card, just 11 horses had hit the deck in the 18 contests staged at Cottenham during the 2016-17 season.
Then three came to grief in that long Maiden, which witnessed a thrilling three-horse finish as the Surrey raider, Intercooler Turbo, just held off Le Fou Royal by a short head with Skiptothegoodbit only half a length back in third.
And the six runners for the closing two and a half mile maiden went down like ninepins, most spectacularly Balkato des Bois who slithered out at the penultimate obstacle with the race at his mercy.
All this left the outsider, Muchadoaboutnothing, to come home alone and collect the prize for owner-trainer Martin Ward, from Sutton, near Ely, and his son-in-law, jockey Dickie Collinson. Thankfully, all the horses and riders emerged unscathed from the carnage.
These last two races were particularly galling for the father-son trainer-jockey combination of Nick and Archie Wright, from Badlingham, near Newmarket, as they are responsible for both Le Fou Royal and Balkato des Bois.
But the Wrights had earlier fared better in a high class Mens Open when It Was Me, the leading East Anglian horse of 2015, continued his rehabilitation from a disappointing 2016 campaign blighted by jumping errors with a solid third place behind the Shropshire raider, Now Ben.
Dual Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton triumphed in the Ladies Open, but unfortunately only as an owner, rather than as a jockey.
After her horse, Vesperal Dream, ridden by Izzy Marshall, had got up in the last few strides to defy the favourite, Sharp Suit, a crutch-wielding Pendleton was on hand to pick up the trophy.
“I hurt my ankle when I fell off him at Larkhill, down in Wiltshire, two weeks ago,” Pendleton explained. “At the time I thought it was nothing but it swelled right up and, when I finally went to hospital a week later, I discovered that it was a compound fracture.”
“The trophy is beautiful – and bigger than anything I got during my cycling career,” she beamed.
Oxfordshire-based Alan Hill trains both Vesperal Dream and Sharp Suit and he was on the mark again in the following contest when Pride Of Parish, held off Condorman – who was completing a remarkable sequence of four straight second places on the day for National Champion Lady Rider, Gina Andrews – in the Restricted Race.
The meeting began with Torran Na Dtonn notching an 80th training success for Andrew Pennock since he moved to his current yard, at Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds, in the Members Race.
And the remarkable Lough Inch, trained in Leicestershire by Tommy Morgan, made it seven victories from eight visits to Cottenham with an easy score in the Intermediate Race.
GOING: GOOD ( GOOD to SOFT in places )
1- TORRAN NA DTONN Evan David Evens TOTE WIN £ 2.90
2- Can Mestret Gina Andrews 4/5 fav DF £ 1.60
3- Boxer Beat Johnny Bailey 7/1
Also: Curragh Hall 33/1 (4th), Hawkers Son 33/1 (5th),
Violet Crack 20/1 (6th)
Time 6 mins 07 secs Dists: 4L : 6L 6 ran
1- LOUGH INCH Sam Davies-Thomas 2/7 fav TOTE WIN £ 1.10
2- Celtic Silver Gina Andrews 6/1 DF £ 4.00
3- Proximo Jack Andrews 4/1
Also: Push Ahead 8/1 (4th), Clondaw Island 25/1 (5th),
Railway Benefit 20/1 (6th), Franks A Million 33/1 (pu)
Time 5-58 Dists: 5L : 4L 7 ran
1- NOW BEN Alex Edwards 5/2 TOTE WIN £ 5.50
2- Consigliere Joe Hill 2/1 fav DF £ 9.30
3- It Was Me Archie Wright 7/2
Also: Decade Player 7/2 (4th), Take The Crown 25/1 (5th),
Brody Bleu 20/1 (ur ), Green Winter 8/1 (pu),
Road To Freedom 33/1 (pu)
Time 5-57 Dists: 4L : 3L 8 ran
1- VESPERAL DREAM Izzie Marshall 5/1 TOTE WIN £ 8.20
2- Sharp Suit Gina Andrews 1/3 fav DF £ 2.80
3- Western Diva Claire Hardwick 12/1
Also: Hill Of Gold 11/2 (4th), Houseparty 40/1 (5th),
Stage Acclaim 14/1 (6th), Roley 40/1 (7th),
Bavard Court 14/1 (pu), Sa Kaldoun 20/1 (pu)
Time 6.00 Dists: Neck : 6L 9 ran
1- PRIDE OF PARISH Joe Hill 7/4 fav TOTE WIN £ 3.00
2- Condorman Gina Andrews 10/1 DF £ 7.40
3- Packettotherafters Alex Edwards 5/1
Also: Solar Sky 40/1 (4th), Why Lie 8/1 (5th),
Barrafohona 14/1(pu), Cidersall 16/1 (pu),
Love Tangle 12/1 (pu), Nandini 10/1 (pu),
Somme Boy 4/1 (pu), Thinking Out Loud 7/2 (pu),
Well Said 7/1 (pu)
Time 6-01 Dists: 1L : ½L 12 ran
1- INTERCOOLER TURBO Phil York 10/1 TOTE WIN £ 7.50
2- Le Fou Royal Archie Wright 2/1 DF £ 5.60*
3- Skiptothegoodbit Charlie Marshall 33/1 ( *winner with any other horse)
Also: Alittlebitless 12/1 (4th), Winola 33/1 (5th),
Ballyowen Brown 25/1 (tnp), Distant Rain evens fav (f),
Ho Le Moses 33/1 (f), Kev The Car 4/1 (f),
King Of All Kings 12/1 (pu), Lady Sunshine 33/1 (pu),
Lion Of Lackabane 4/1 (pu), Shamat 7/1 (pu).
Time 6-09 Dists: Sht Hd : ½L 13 ran
Four, Five & Six Year-Olds Open Maiden ( 2 ½ miles )
1- MUCHADOABOUTNOTHING Richard Collinson 12/1 TOTE WIN £ 11.60
Finished Alone DF £ 11.10*
( *winner with any other horse)
Also: Balkato Des Bois 7/1 (f), Bilzic 4/7 fav (f),
Crack On Jack 12/1 (f), Joys Spirit 6/4 (f),
Royal Beekeeper 6/1 (ur).
Time 4-54 6 ran