A week is a long time in Point-To-Point racing, as was demonstrated by trainer Tom Ellis at the Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace fixture at Horseheath, near Haverhill, on Sunday.
Seven days previously he had suffered the anguish of driving his horse box from his base near Rugby in Warwickshire to Higham, near Colchester; deciding that the ground there was too fast; re-routing the box to another meeting up in Nottinghamshire only to suffer a puncture en route and spending a fruitless afternoon waiting to be rescued at Cambridge Services.
Things went much more smoothly this time around, as the Ellis box arrived safely and a trio of its occupants won the first three races. For the opening two successes he teamed up with his wife, the reigning National Champion Lady Rider, Gina Andrews, to land the Intermediate Race with Total Compliance and the Young Horse Maiden with the debutant Itsnonofurbusiness.
Total Compliance scored with a little in hand to register his third Horseheath victory and is to be aimed at the Cononolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Final at Cheltenham in May.
Itsnonofurbusiness also has Cheltenham on his agenda, but in his case it is for one of the bloodstock sales held there. He made at least two potentially race-losing jumping blunders yet still managed to defeat Petistree (trained in Newmarket by Lauren Braithwaite) and Age Of Heroes (trained near Thetford by David Kemp) in a thrilling finish.
Massive improvement is virtually guaranteed once his novicey jumping is ironed out, so he could fetch a pretty penny in the auction ring.
The quickfire Ellis treble was secured when Roberto Pegasus, given a beautifully-judged waiting ride by Kate Gowing, landed a snug one length success in a 17-runner Novice Riders Race.
19-year-old Gowing was celebrating just her third career success and it was the first to be witnessed by her parents, Nick and Jo, from Mulbarton, near Norwich. In truth, only her father actually watched the race as Jo was too nervous, burying her head in a newspaper with the car radio turned up to full volume while the action unfolded just yards away!
Steeplechasing can be an unforgiving sport, and what should have been a memorable day turned sour for Tom and Gina when Bilbrook Blaze, their runner in the closing Older Horse Maiden, suffered a broken shoulder in a fall at the fourth last, marring a race won by the Kent raider, West Lake.
Another East Anglian jockey in the spotlight was George Greenock, from Fakenham in Norfolk, who landed the highest quality race of the afternoon, the Men’s Open, aboard Empire Builder, trained in Northamptonshire by Gerald Bailey.
This was a fourth straight win for the son of Brian Boru, who relished the strong pace on this stamina-sapping course and would surely be suited to a step up to four miles.
Top Smart, another visitor from Northamptonshire, also completed a four-timer in the Ladies Open, this time getting the better of the Ellis/Andrews representative, Vedetarriat.
Gina also had to be content with a minor role in the 17-runner Restricted Race, finishing third aboard Cresta One, but she at least had the consolation of a good view as her younger brother, Jack Andrews, landed the spoils aboard the highly promising Neumond.
Overall, it was one of the best meetings staged in East Anglia for many a long while, with high class racing throughout and 82 runners contesting the seven races.
1st Total Compliance Gina Andrews 5/4f
2nd Love Manhattan Tom Chatfield-Roberts 4/1
3rd Always A Chance Tabitha Worsley 12/1
Time 6-01 Dists: 2L, 10L 10 ran
Also: Counting Stars (f) Forrardon Xmoor (f) Franks A Million (pu) Ignite A Light (4th) Jenna Pride (pu) Nimbus Lad (pu) Savva Bridge (5th)
4,5 & 6 year olds maiden
1st Itsnonofurbusiness Gina Andrews 2/1
2nd Pettistree Jack Andrews 3/1
3rd Age Of Heroes Sam Davies-Thomas 6/1
Time No time taken Dists: Nk,1/2L 9 ran
Also: Boomtown Knat 7/4f (6th) Canyouhearmenow (8th) Cupachai (7th) Fizzlestix (5th) Poetry Emotion (4th) State Trooper (pu)
PPORA Novice Riders
1st Roberto Pegasus Kate Gowing 6/1
2nd Susquehana River Patrick Bullard 5/2
3rd Bincombe Tim Gredley 6/1
Time 6-05 Dists: 1L, 1/2L 17 ran
Also: Ballycarry (pu) Citizen’s Arrest (8th) Crack Of Thunder (ur) Current Exchange (9th) Done A Runner 2/1f (4th) Frankie Anson (5th) Head Spin (ur) Horatio Caine (6th) Mazuri Cowboy (pu) Nodforms Violet (ur) Probably George (10th) Renta Gallery (ur) Rocky Island (ur) Strollawaynow (7th)
1st Empire Builder George Greenock 9/2
2nd Curraigflemens Shane Roche 6/1
3rd Premier Portrait Gus Levinson 4/1
Time 6-06 Dists:1L, Hd 10 ran
Also: Baby Whizz (6th) Berties Dream (5th) Colonel Iain (pu) Curraghbower (f) My Shamwari (pu) See U Again Son 5/4f (pu) Subtitle (4th)
1st Sharp Top Ali Stirling Ev’s f
2nd Vedettariat Gina Andrews 11/8
3rd Oh Toodles Immy Robinson 20/1
Time 6-08 Dists: 1L, Nk 7 ran
Also: Beggars Velvet (6th) Kimora (7th) Lauberhorn (4th) Wor Rom (5th)
1st Neumond Jack Andrews 9/4f
2nd Mazurati Max Kendrick 33/1
3rd Cresta One Gina Andrews 6/1
Time 6-08 Dists: Dist, Nk 17 ran
Also: Barrafahona (pu) Beat The Index (pu) Don’t Be Fooled (4th) Don’t Budge Me (ur) Gers Benefit (pu) Hillview Lad (pu) Katesoneoneeight (5th) Marble Moll (pu) Midnight Monkey (pu) More Tricks (pu) Rudolf (pu) Tailspin (pu) Vering (ur) View The Dance (6th)
7 years old + Open Maiden
1st West Lake Shane Roche 6/1
2nd Brogeen Boy Will Hickman 5/1
3rd Fraction Man Bradley Gibbs 5/1
Time 6-11 Dists: 10L, 2L 12 ran
Also: Arcal Fifty (f) Bilbrook Blaze 2/1f (f) Derksen (pu) Drive On Joe (pu) Max O (4th) Teeton Turnip (pu) Unseen (6th) Weve Got Company (5th) Woodstyle (pu)