Charlie Buckle was celebrating a sporting triumph on Saturday evening, but not the one that he might have imagined.
For Buckle, from Semer, near Hadleigh, had passed up the chance to ride at the inaugural running of the High Easter Racing Club Point-To-Point meeting, at High Easter, near Chelmsford, preferring to journey to Dublin to watch England bid for a grand slam in the Six Nations Rugby.
And while Dylan Hartley’s mob came up short at the Aviva Stadium, Buckle’s gelding Nightscape (pictured below, dark blue, light blue star), one of the outsiders for the Mens Open race, got up in the last few strides to beat the favourite, Burtredgipandgump, by a short head.
It was a thrilling contest as, after Nightscape’s substitute pilot, Dickie Collinson, had initially helped force the pace, he was shuffled back through the field as both Bertredgipandgump and Banksandditches made their bids for glory on the final circuit.
Collinson, from Sutton near Ely, kept his cool and, aware that Nightscape had the advantage of race fitness, came with a storming late burst to nose to the front just where it matters.
“Nightscape is a wonderful hunter who had a very long day out with the Essex and Suffolk Hunt on Monday, which seems to have put him spot on for today,” said Heather Buckle, deputising for her son.
Archie Wright, from Badlingham near Newmarket, was the day’s most unfortunate jockey as not only was he aboard Burtredgipandgump, he also partnered Mr Maclennane, the narrow runner-up in the previous race, the Restricted.
Master Ally, given another fine ride by this season’s top novice, Kate Gowing, made the running only to look beaten when Mr Maclennane drew alongside after the final fence.
However, Master Ally (above, the grey) fought off his rival to score by a head and land a popular success for trainer Nicky Cook and owner Adrian Gibbons, from Pharisee Green, Great Dunmow, just a couple of miles from High Easter.
It was a fitting result as former jockey Gibbons was one of the day’s race sponsors and was notching his first victory since Qualicum, the horse upon whom he broke his neck in a career-ending fall at Cottenham, prevailed at Marks Tey back in 2007.
Another well-received local triumph came in the Veteran Horses Race as Amigo (below, on right wearing cheekpieces), owned by the High Easter course owners, the Marriage family, in conjunction with the Signy family, from Wickham Market, came home eight lengths clear of the favourite, Abbey Lane.
Tim Gredley, the 31-year-old former Great Britain International showjumper from Stetchworth, near Newmarket, survived a calamitous blunder at the fifth last to register his first Pointing victory aboard the classy Silvergrove (below, yellow with white cap) in the Novice Riders Race.
The Maiden Race went to Toosey (above, red and yellow), trained near Thetford by David Kemp and owned and bred by Ian Low, from St Osyth, near Clacton, while High Easter’s first two and a half mile race, the Ladies Open, witnessed a dominant front-running display from the Leicestershire raider, Decade Player, only blighted by a mistake at the final obstacle (pictured below).
GOING: GOOD (Good To Firm in places)
PPORA CLUB MEMBERS ( Novice Riders )
1- SILVERGROVE Tim Gredley 2/1
2- Done A Runner Rory Bevin 4/5 fav
3- Pinerolo Ruby Knights 12/1
Also: King Willie 3/1 (4th), Hunters Lodge 16/1 (5th)
Lady King 40/1 (ur)
Time 6 mins 18 secs Dists: 4L, 2L 6 ran
TOTE: Win £ 5.50
1- MASTER ALLY Kate Gowing 7/1
2- Mr Maclennane Archie Wright 7/2
3- Haut Bages Rupert Stearn 8/1
Also: The Master Remover 25/1 (4th),
Hi Lucy Lou 7/1 (5th), Emeralds Choice 20/1 (6th),
Pettistree 2/1 fav (7th), Mazurati 5/1 (ur),
The Tailor Quigley 5/1 (pu)
Time 6-28 Dists: Head, 1 ½L 9 ran
TOTE: No bets placed on winning horse
1- NIGHTSCAPE Richard Collinson 8/1
2- Burtredgipandgump Archie Wright Evens fav
3- Drumshambo Hector Barr 4/1
Also: Black Glen Boy 3/1 (4th),
Banksandditches 7/2 (5th), Desertmore Valley 10/1 (pu)
Time 6-21 Dists: Sh/hd, 6L 6 ran
TOTE: Win £ 22.00
Ladies Open (2 miles 4 furlongs)
1- DECADE PLAYER Tabitha Worsley 5/4 fav
2- Can Mestret Gina Andrews 6/1
3- Weather Warning Charlotte Wyatt 25/1
Also: Hill Of Gold 2/1 (4th), Santa’s Secret 12/1 (5th)
Bavard Court 6/1 (ur)
Time 5-04 Dists: 6L, ½L 6 ran
TOTE: Win £ 3.40
(10 y-o’s & over ) High Easter Racing Club Members Conditions
1- AMIGO Gina Andrews 4/1
2- Abbey Lane Evan David 4/5 fav
3- Merrydown Vintage Chris Dennington 4/1
Also: Shakalakaboomboom 12/1 (4th), Sandpipers 8/1 (5th)
Coral Point 33/1 (ur), Remarkable Man 14/1 (pu),
Zardsky 33/1 (pu)
Time 6-16 Dists: 8L, Sh/hd 8 ran
TOTE: Win £ 4.60
1- TOOSEY Joe Hill 5/4 fav
2- Sandygate Richard Collinson 7/4
3- Tin Tack Gina Andrews 7/2
Also: On The Tangle 4/1 (ur)
Time 6-36 Dists: 3L, Distance 4 ran
TOTE: Win £ 2.00