Seb Burnett-Wells made the perfect start to his riding career less than two weeks after his 16th birthday when landing the Novice Riders Race at the North Norfolk Harriers Point-To-Point at Higham, between Colchester and Ipswich, yesterday (February 19th).
Burnett-Wells betrayed none of his inexperience while guiding Abbey Lane – who is trained at Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds, by Andrew Pennock – to his third victory of the season.
A pupil at St Benedicts School in Bury St Edmunds, Burnett-Wells hails from the ‘other’ Suffolk Higham, near Newmarket. And, judged by this stylish victory, he has every chance of emulating the success in the saddle of his father, Charlie, who was a professional jump jockey in the early 1990s.
Pennock went on to complete a double when Scorpion Star, a final fence faller when upsides the winner at the previous Higham fixture, proved two lengths too strong for Condorman in the Subaru Restricted Race.
But it was not all plain sailing for the Dalmer Lodge handler, as he suffered short-priced reverses in both the Maiden Race and the Club Members Race.
In the former, Pennock’s Royal Chieftain hit the deck and the fourth last obstacle leaving the 16-1 outsider, Royal Beekeeper, to come home six lengths clear of Toosey.
Clearly none the worse for a spectacular unseat at Cottenham just eight days earlier, Royal Beekeeper is trained in Newmarket by James Owen and benefitted from the application of sheepskin cheekpieces for the first time.
Black Glen Boy, Pennock’s Club Members runner, could never get on terms with the front-running Merrydown Vintage, trained in Surrey by Ray Fielder, and had to settle for second place, six lengths adrift of that rival.
The Ladies Open Race witnessed a popular success for Quinsman, owned by the three children of the late Robert Clifton-Brown and partnered by veteran pilot, Louise Allan. Clifton-Brown, who passed away last October, was an outspoken advocate of equine sports who carried on riding at his home in Great Bradley into his late eighties.
Allan, from Newmarket, still has a way to go to emulate such longevity, but this triumph came a quarter of a century after she notched her first triumph between the flags at Cottenham back in 1992.
The classiest performer on display was undoubtedly Broken Eagle, who took his Higham record to a perfect five-from-five with a command performance in the Mens Open Race.
Trained in Oxfordshire by Alan Hill, Broken Eagle is being targeted at the Aintree Foxhunters over the Grand National fences on April 6th and may have one more run beforehand, in a hunter chase.
GOING: GOOD TO FIRM
1st Royal Beekeeper 16/1 Alex Ferguson
2nd Toosey 4/1 Joe Hill
3rd Infinityandbeyond 6/1 Charlie Buckle
Time 5-58 Dists:6L, 8L
Also: Lady Kay(pu) Midnight Quest(ur) On The Tangle (ur) Royal Chieftain 4/6f (f) Shamat(4th) Unseen (ur) *1 Fence omitted, fallen rider
1st Abbey Lane 1/3f Sebastian Burnett Wells
2nd Carrie On Asian 9/2 Carrie Tucker
3rd Valid Point 7/2 Rory Bevin
Time 5-51 Dists: Dist, Dist
Also: Frankie Anson (ur) The Master Remover (ur)
* 3 jumps omitted, fallen riders
1st Scorpion Star 4/7f Evan David
2nd Condorman 7/2 Joe Hill
3rd Beat The Index 20/1 Kate Gowing
Time 5-56 Dists: 2L, 8L
Also: Master Ally (4th) Weather Warning (5th)
1st Broken Eagle 1/9f Joe Hill
2nd Kriss William 8/1 Ed Turner
3rd Nightscape 16/1 Charlie Buckle
Time 5-46 Dists: Dist, 1/2L 4 ran
Also: Protaras (4th)
1st Quinsman 6/4 jt f Louise Allan
2nd Sa Kaldoun 4/1 Rosie Turner
3rd Caulkin 8/1 Honor Whyte
Time 5-54 Dists: 3L, 5L
Also: Green Bank 6/4 jt f (4th) Stage Acclaim (5th)
CA Club Members
1st Merrydown Vintage 6/4 Chris Dennington
2nd Black Glen Boy 4/7f Evan David
3rd Kyles Faith 8/1 Joe Hill
Time 5-54 Dists: 6L, 15L
Also: Coral Point (4th) Good Order (pu)