Rupert Stearn and Ed Turner, two of East Anglia’s leading Point-To-Point jockeys and also good friends, dominated much of the Suffolk meeting at Ampton on Sunday with their personal duel ending at 2-1 in Stearn’s favour.
The first two races were virtual carbon copies as Stearn, from Wymondham, pulled away late from horses ridden by Turner, who lives very close to the course, north of Bury St Edmunds, to land a quickfire double.
Only two lined up for the Hunt Race but the favourite, Forget The Ref, looked like she had a real fight on her hooves until Turner’s charge, Native Bob, got tired up the final hill. This was a deserved result as Forget The Ref had finished second seven times since her last victory and her trainer, Robert Abrey, from Wretham, near Thetford, has devoted many hours of his time over recent weeks to get Ampton back in terrific shape following the battering the course took at its popular January fixture.
Forget The Ref’s owner, Ian Thurtle, who is another Wretham resident, revealed afterwards that his ten-year-old mare – a real family horse who is regularly ridden at home by 16-year-old Alice Thurtle – will be retired to the breeding paddocks at the end of this season. Six faced the starter for the following Restricted Race but again it was only Stearn and Turner’s mounts that mattered in the closing stages as Ide No Idea, trained at Wymondham by Caroline Fryer, proved four lengths too fast for Garundi.
But Turner took a measure of revenge in the Men’s Open, overtaking Stearn’s mount, Sorry Al, at the third last fence and drawing clear to register a 15-length success aboard Parkinson,who is trained by his grandfather, Joe.
Turner-trained horses played prominent roles in the other three races but all came up short meaning that Joe, who owns the land on which the course is situated, ended the day with one winner, four seconds and an odds-on favourite who fell.
Yet there was a second equally local success as Dalmatian, trained in full view of the course at Timworth Green by Andrew Pennock, sprang a 16-1 shock in the Maiden.
This was a pleasant surprise both for Andrew’s wife, Ruth, who owns Dalmatian and is expecting their first child in a fortnight’s time, and winning jockey Jody Sole, who was so convinced beforehand that his mount would not like the rain-softened ground that he tried to withdraw him.
Firmount Beech, who is owned by Kelvedon’s Barry Belchem, provided a first winner in the saddle of the season for his trainer, David Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford, in the Restricted Race.
And Gina Andrews, from Lilley, in Hertfordshire, maintained her healthy lead in the national lady riders’ championship when guiding Delightful Cliche to a narrow success over Assassino in the Ladies Open.
1 Forget The Ref – Rupert Stearn 2/5f
2 Native Bob – Ed Turner
Time 6 mins 42 secs Dists: Dist 2 ran
1 Ide No Idea – Rupert Stearn 2/5f
2 Garundi – Ed Turner
3 Toe To Hand – Gina Andrews
Time 6-42 Dists: 4L,15L 6 ran
1 Delightful Cliche – Gina Andrews 10/11f
2 Assassino – Louise Allan
3 Cool Roxy – Emily Crossman
Time 6-42 Dists: Hd, 4L 6 ran
1 Parkinson – Ed Turner 3/1
2 Sorry Al – Rupert Stearn
3 Tribal Venture – Olly Murphy 4/7f
Time 6-57 Dists: 15L, 8L 3 ran
1 Firmount Beech – David Kemp 9/4
2 Bavard Court – Louise Allan 3 Batalov – Gina Andrews Ev’s f
Time 6-49 Dists: 2L, 2L 9 ran
1 Dalmatian – Jody Sole 16/1
2 Quel Ferbet – Andrew Braithwaite
3 O Ellie – Tony Williams
Time 6-56 Dists: 1L, 1L 12 ran Sud Nivernais Ev’s f (Fell)
1 Shooting Star – Toby Holland 4/5
2 Rory – Honor Whyte
3 Generous George 1/2f
Time 1-13 Dists 6L, 2L 5 ran
1 So Lord – Georgina Friswell 4/6
2 Charlie – Toby Twinn
3 Tazfantastic – Edward Twinn 4/7f
Time 1-09 Dists: 1 1/2L 20L 4 ran