Quality First finally showed his true quality when springing a 12-1 surprise for trainer Martin Ward in the Confined Race at a soggy and windswept Suffolk Point-To-Point at Ampton yesterday (Sunday).
Described by Ward, who hails from Sutton, near Ely, as the most frustrating horse in training, Quality First is highly talented but rarely consents to put his best foot forward, hence seven consecutive defeats since Ward acquired the horse in 2005.
But, equipped with a new bit that meant pilot Matthew Mackley had just steering, no brakes and wearing the lucky colours of joint owner, Jason Glenister, the 14-year-old really enjoyed himself out in the lead.
And, for once, he found extra when the going got tough to draw clear to beat odds-on chance Sure Future, who was conceding six pounds, by ten lengths.
In his pomp Quality First won ,75,000 in prizemoney under rules and, buoyed by the tenth triumph of his career, he is surely capable of further success – it just depends what mood he is in!
Mackley was completing a quickfire double in the first two races on the card as he had guided Lord Valnic to a facile victory in the opening Hunt Race.
Facing only two rivals, which became only one when Gatchou Mans crashed out at the eighth, Lord Valnic, who is trained at Bradfield St Clare by Alex Embiricos and owned by her partner, Tim Bryce, sauntered home by ten lengths.
It was a fitting result as this Mister Lord gelding was named in honour of Embiricos’ parents, Valda and Nick, who celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary just 24 hours earlier.
Tim Lane emulated Mackley with a speedy double when partnering Court Adjourn and Sunday Lunch, who are both owned by Sir Michael Connell and trained near Banbury by his wife, Annie, to victories in successive races.
Despite not relishing the soft ground, Court Adjourn came home ten lengths clear of the Mackley-ridden Philson-Warrior in the Volkswagen Touareg Men’s Open, while Mackley was again Lane’s nearest pursuer as Sunday Lunch saw off Killeengh Lodge in the Restricted Race.
Millenium Way, winner of the Ladies’ Open for owner-trained-rider Caroline Taylor at the previous Ampton fixture in January, repeated the trick at the main expense of runner-up Limerick Leader.
And, following the Maiden success of Cyrium, his Leicestershire-based owner-trainer-rider, Patrick Millington, somewhat bizarrely given the recent downpours, declared: I brought five horses to run today but only ran him because the ground was too fast for the rest of them. Until Noah’s Ark arrives, how can it get any wetter, Mr Millington?
Race One (Members Race):
1 T Bryce’s Lord Valnic (Suffolk) (M Mackley),
2 JM Turner’s Rakatia (Suffolk) (J Owen). Only two finished.
Also: Gatchou Mans 9f). Ten lengths. 6.56. SP 4-5 fav.
Race Two (Confined Hunts Race):
1 M Ward and J Glenister’s Quality First (Granta Harriers) (M Mackley),
2 G Franks’ Sure Future (Essex Farmers and Union) (Miss L Franks),
3 M Lambert’s Marmalade Mountain (Suffolk) (J Owen).
Also: Royal Action (4), Mon Espirit (5), Lightingconductor (6), Another Dude (pu), Shoemaker (f). Ten lengths, five lengths. 6.52. SP 12-1 (Sure Future 4-5 fav).
Race Three (Ladies Open Race):
1 Mrs C Taylor’s Millenium Way (Ashford Vale) (owner),
2 Mrs P Hutchinson’s Limerick Leader (Fernie) (Miss G Hutchinson),
3 JM Turner’s Black Forest (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner).
Also: The Wiley Kalmuck (4), Sorkatcheguy (5), Gran Dana (pu). Three lengths, ten lengths. 6.59. SP 1-2 fav.
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 Sir Michael Connell’s Court Adjourn (Grafton) (T Lane),
2 R Green and B Sayer’s Philson-Warrior (Fitzwilliam Milton) (M Mackley),
3 A Harvey’s Bob Ar Aghaidh (Puckeridge) (A Braithwaite).
Also: Ungaretti (4), Avalon Buck (ur). Fifteen lengths, five lengths. 6.49. SP 11-10 fav.
Race Five (Restricted Race):
1 Sir Michael Connell’s Sunday Lunch (Grafton) (T Lane),
2 D Barnard, N Belcher and J Kirby’s Killeengh Lodge (Pytchley) (M Mackley),
3 Mr and Mrs J Whyte’s Supreme Sir (Waveney Harriers) (R Morgan-Evans).
Also: Box On (f), Capitive (pu), Dark All Over (ur), Down The River (pu), Laurier de Lotte (pu), No Nay Never (pu), Nowhips (tnp). A distance, one length. 7.04. SP 11-10 fav.
Race Six (Open Maiden Race):
1 PJ Millington’s Cyrium (Fernie) (owner),
2 JM Turner’s Young Rocky (Suffolk) (J Owen),
3 R Abrey and Mrs S Webb’s Cadtauri (Suffolk) (R Stearn).
Also: Perfect Prefect (4), Cragg Prince (5), Another Carlton (f), Bobbies Ryde (pu), Little Biddy (f), Over The Loom (pu), Running Attraction (pu). Two lengths, three lengths. 7.11. SP 3-1 (Perfect Prefect 2-1 fav).
Race Seven (Children’s Pony Flat Race, Ponies Under 12.2 Hands):
1 Miss L Jenkins’ Barkway Little Swift (Bicester/Whaddon) (Laura Jenkins),
2 Mrs J O’Hara’s Harry (Puckeridge) (Kia O’Hara),
3 Misses G and B Andrews’ Windy (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Bridget Andrews).
Also: Hot Tottie (4), Poppy, Tommy. One length, half a length. 1.16.
Race Eight (Children’s Pony Flat Race, Ponies Under 13.2 Hands):
1 Mrs EM Andrews’ Clonross Star (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Georgina Andrews),
2 R Plumb’s Buster (Dunston Harriers) (Rohan Plumb),
3 Mrs K Taylor’s Cwrytbettws Vocalist (North Norfolk) (Daisy Taylor).
Also: Jessie (4), Caxton Conker, Gold Dawn Chorus, Jessica Rabbit, Sebastian, Valentine Comet. Three lengths, half a length. 1.09.