Trainer John Ferguson, from Cowlinge, near Newmarket, dominated the Thurlow Point-To-Point at Horseheath on Saturday, notching three victories and two second places from his five runners.
But it was the two near misses that may live longest in the memory of his stable jockey, James Owen, whose double took him well clear at the top of the East Anglian riding standings with nine winners.
For on each occasion Owen was edged out by female jockeys he knows very well. His one and a half length reverse aboard the red hot favourite Dr Harry Who in the Restricted Race may in particular cause him a deal of grief.
The finish here was a domestic affair between Owen and his girlfriend, Clare Hobson, who was riding the outsider Can’t Touch This. And, to the surprise of virtually everyone present, it was Hobson, from Reed, near Royston, who came out on top.
“I’ve never know Can’t Touch This to be so brave,” an ecstatic Hobson beamed afterwards. “I know that James will be pleased for me and anyway, he’s too greedy!”
The latter stages of the opening Club Members Race became a battle royale between Owen’s mount, Macklin, and It Was Me, ridden by Thetford’s Carey Williamson.
The duo went at it hammer and tongs throughout the final mile before It Was Me prevailed by a length, in the process registering the fastest time of the day. Ironically, not only does Williamson work for Ferguson but It Was Me is owned and trained by one of his best friends, Nick Wright, from Badlingham, near Newmarket.
Nevertheless, Ferguson was extremely gracious in defeat and can hardly be it better form – his treble meant that, including National Hunt races, he has trained an incredible 32 winners since September 30.
He probably took most pleasure out of the first of his successful trio, Earth Dream, in the Novice Riders Race, as he was partnered by Ferguson’s son, James. It was an easy victory, but Ferguson junior did have one heart-stopping moment, when his mount was left nibbling the turf after landing too steeply at the tricky, downhill fourth last fence.
“I shouldn’t have stayed on,” a relieved Ferguson admitted. “I was very lucky that Earth Dream brought his neck up so quickly to get me back in the saddle. I lost one of my stirrups and only got it back ten strides from the next fence.”
There were no such dramas for the two Owen-guided Ferguson scorers. The unreliable The Rodeo Clown had one of his going days in the Mens Open, coming home a comfortable two lengths clear.
And Colonel Iain, named after Ferguson’s father, broke his duck in smooth fashion in the concluding Maiden Race.
Defying Gravity, trained at Wymondham by Caroline Fryer, took the afternoon’s only Ferguson-free contest, the three-runner Ladies Open. He proved ten lengths too strong for Champtho to give jockey Bridget Andrews her first triumph of the campaign.
Horseheath Club Members
1 It Was Me – Carey Williamson 13/8f
2 Macklin – James Owen
3 Castleconner Lad – Ben Rivett
Time 6 mins 6 secs Dists: 1L, 20L 6 ran
1 Earth Dream – James Ferguson 1/4f
2 Hardwick Wood – Henry Gurney
3 Kells Castle – Annie Bowles
Time 6-12 Dists: 4L, 3/4L 5 ran
1 Defying Gravity – Bridget Andrews 4/7f
2 Champtho – Louise Allan
3 Sir Harry Cool – Tammy Webster
Time 6-14 Dists: 10L 15L 3 ran
1 The Rodeo Clown – James Owen 3/1
2 Arnold Layne – Tim McClorey
3 Frankie Anson – Ed Turner
Time 6-11 Dists: 2L, 1 1/2L 7 ran Ballygalley Bob 6/4f (6th)
1 Can’t Touch This – Clare Hobson 9/1
2 Dr Harry Who – James Owen 2/7f
3 Shuilgoric – Bridget Andrews
Time 6-20 Dists: 1 1/2L, 10L 5 ran
1 Colonel Iain – James Owen 11/10f
2 Empire Builder – George Greenock
3 Sa Kaldoun – Louise Allan
Time 6-09 Dists: 6L, 1L 9 ran