An outstanding Mens Open was the highlight of the Thurlow Point-To-Point at Horseheath on Saturday.
Only five runners went to post for the feature race, but between them they had already triumphed in no less than 32 similar races, not to mention last year’sConnolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Hunter Chase Final at Cheltenham courtesy of the favourite, Mr Mercurial.
Trained in Shropshire by Sheila Crow, Mr Mercurial is not the easiest of rides as his challenge needs to be delivered as late as possible.
But, finessed into the race with great skill by jockey Paddy Gerety, he caught Glint Of Steel at the final fence and stayed on strongly to land this contest for the second straight year, this time by a length and a half. He now heads back to Cheltenham for the big one, the St James’s Place Foxhunter, on March 18th.
Mr Mercurial (Paddy Gerety) edges past Glint Of Steel (Charlie Marshall) at the final fence
The runner-up, Glint Of Steel, was losing his unbeaten Pointing record after nine straight wins. But, trained in Kent by Philip Hall, he still boasted a career best effort in defeat.
The Ladies Open produced high drama as, just two weeks after a brilliant victory in a top class race at Cottenham, It Was Me crashed out at the final fence with a circuit to run, leaving the Oxfordshire-trained Goodnight Vienna to prevail at his leisure by ten lengths.
Goodnight Vienna (Page Fuller) is well in command jumping the last
Those spectators supporting the locally-trained horses had to wait until the very last race (the second division of the Maiden) for an East Anglian victory as Alex Ferguson, from Cowlinge, near Newmarket, posted his inaugural Pointing victory aboard Bengo, trained on the other side of Newmarket, at Badlingham, by Nick Wright.
In a tight finish to a race which developed into a sprint, Bengo held off the Crow representative, Againn Dul Aghaidh, by half a length with Balllough close behind in third.
The other Maiden brought the biggest surprise of the day as the 14-1 outsider, Ignite A Light, trained in Northamptonshire by Gerald Bailey but ridden by Alex Vaughan-Jones (who is originally from Wells Next The Sea in Norfolk but now lives in London) beat Petistree, also by half a length.
Ignite A Light (Alex Vaughan-Jones, left) is locked together with Petistree (Jack Andrews) at the final fence
Petistree’s pilot, Jack Andrews from Lilley in Hertfordshire, enjoyed a fine afternoon despite this reverse as he both landed the Novice Riders Race on Done A Runner and received the trophy as East Anglian Jockey Of The Month for January.
Done A Runner (Jack Andrews)
Jack’s older sister, Gina Andrews, also got her name on the scoresheet when she guided the fast-improving Total Compliance, trained in Warwickshire by her husband, Tom Ellis, to an easy Restricted Race success.
Total Compliance (Gina Andrews)
Another long-distance traveller came out on top in the Club Members Race as Green Winter, trained at Malvern in Gloucestershire by John Bryan, proved a length and a half too strong for Abbeyview.
Green Winter (Zack Baker, left) and Abbeyview (Paddy Gerety)
EA Club Members
1st Green Winter Zac Baker 4/5f 2nd Abbeyview Paddy Gerety 4/1 3rd Brave Encounter Sam Davies Thomas 3/1
Time 6 mins 15 secs Dists:1 1/2L, 3L 11 ran
PPORA Novice Riders
1st Done A Runner Jack Andrews 4/6f 2nd Kriss William Rosie Turner 12/1 3rd Curraigflemens Shane Roche 12/1
Time 6-18 Dists: 5L, 1 1/2L 12 ran
1st Goodnight Vienna Page Fuller 2/1 2nd Irish Rebel Katy Lyons 20/1 3rd Rey Nacarado Gina Andrews 12/1
Time 6-05 Dists: 10L, 12L 7 ran It Was Me 1/3f (UR)
1st Mr Mercurial Paddy Gerety 5/4f 2nd Glint Of Steel Charlie Marshall 5/2 3rd Templebraden Zac Baker 2/1
Time 6-15 Dists: 1 1/2L, 3L 5 ran
1st Total Compliance Gina Andrews 5/4f 2nd Our Milly Acres Tom Chatfield Roberts 6/1 3rd Lule Kyle Rupert Stearn 5/2
Time 6-20* Dists: 8L, 3L 8 ran * 2 fences omitted, damaged fence
Open Maiden Div One
1st Ignite A Light Alex Vaughan Jones 14/1 2nd Pettistree Jack Andrews 11/10f 3rd Militarian James Martin 8/1
Time 6-23* Dists: 1/2L, 2L 10 ran * 2 fences omitted, damaged fence
Open Maiden Div Two
1st Bengo Alex Ferguson 6/4f 2nd Againn Dul Agaidh Paddy Gerety 7/2 3rd Ballalough Sam Davies Thomas 4/1 Time 6-23* Dists: 1/2L, Hd 9 ran * 2 fences omitted, damaged fence