Andrew Braithwaite earned straight ‘A’ grades for his riding efforts at the Thurlow Point-To-Point at Horseheath on Saturday, notching his first ever double courtesy of Alpha Man and Josh’s Choice.
Braithwaite, 20, who is originally from Stock, near Chelmsford, but is now attached to the Bishops Stortford yard of Christopher Sporborg, topped off a memorable day by receiving the East Anglian Jockey Of The Month Award for February.
Alpha Man was the pick of the two Sporborg/Braithwaite successes, landing a highly competitive 18-runner Restricted Race by just a head but prompting many admiring glances in the winner’s enclosure afterwards.
An imposing six-year-old son of Alphabatim, Alpha Man showed great fighting spirit to overhaul Pampered Gale after a ding-dong battle on the run-in. This was only the second start of his life (compared to Pampered Gale’s 15 previous appearances) and he has boundless scope for improvement.
Sporborg buys all his pointers for the famed Irish horseman, Tom Costello, and, upon the purchase of Alpha Man, Costello said to him: “Christopher, this is much more than just a point-to-pointer you are getting your hands on here.”
The other Sporborg victory came in the Open Maiden Race when Braithwaite coaxed Josh’s Choice to a comfortable five length defeat of He’s A Lad.
Caroline Bailey, trainer of He’s A Lad, gained compensation in the following Intermediate Race when Contingency responded well to the determined driving of pilot Rowan Cope to beat Castle Road by five lengths.
David Kemp, 22, from Kilverstone, near Thetford, was another young jockey to shine, in his case while partnering Tea Box to victory in the Confined Race. Tea Box, who is owned and trained by David’s parents, Malcolm and Celia, made all the running and held off the persistent challenge of Corston Joker by a length and a half.
Fair Exchange, who had been a disappointing beaten favourite in both his previous starts this term, bounced back to form to register his sixth win at this venue in the Men’s Open Race.
Jumped off in front by Paul Taiano, he looked to be a sitting duck as the strongly-fancied Ebullient Equiname moved into his slipstream turning up the final stamina-sapping hill. But Fair Exchange kept pulling out a bit extra and still had two lengths to spare at the line.
A relieved Taiano reported afterwards: “His jumping was different class today – he obviously wasn’t right earlier in the season – and he loved being out in front.”
And Josie Sheppard, who handles the nine-year-old at Ashwell, near Royston, in partnership with her husband, Gurney, revealed: “Fair Exchange is a very delicate horse to train. He sometimes won’t drink and we can do virtually nothing with him at home.”
Garolo, a long-distance traveller from Lambourn in Berkshire, deserves plenty of plaudits for his victory in the Ladies’ Open race under owner Susie Samworth.
He jumped the first fence fully 20 lengths behind the other seven runners following a ragged start. But he made up ground gradually and, delivered with a perfectly-timed challenge after the last, quickened up well to beat Spring Gale by a length and a half in the fastest time of the day.
Race One (Open Maiden Race):
1 H Hill’s Josh’s Choice (Puckeridge) (A Braithwaite),
2 Mrs P Rowe’s He’s A Lad (Pytchley) (R Cope),
3 Mrs T Holditch’s Marbank Lad (Fitzwilliam) (M Mackley).
Also: Bit of a Chick (4), Andrew’s (pu), Count Frederick (ur), Floorex Carpetman (pu), Gunner Be True (pu), Over The Rhee (pu), Penlet Too (pu), Professor Tag (pu), Tanager (pu). Distances: Five lengths, a distance. 6m 50s. W £6.60. DF £3.70. SP 7-2 (He’s A Lad 4-5fav).
Race Two (Intermediate):
1 Miss C Hill’s Contingency (Pytchley) (R Cope),
2 M Ward’s Castle Road (Granta Harriers) (Miss R Barrow),
3 J M Turner’s Tohunga (Suffolk) (A Sansome).
Also: Ballad (ref), Lord Knox (pu), Nowornever (pu), Senso (ur). Distances: Five lengths, one and a half lengths. 6.50. W £3.40. DF £42.10. SP 6-4fav.
Race Three (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Miss S Samworth’s Garolo (Old Berkshire) (owner),
2 J M Turner’s Spring Gale (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),
3 N Cronin’s Storm Castle (Kent and Surrey Bloodhounds) (Miss A Embiricos).
Also: Borrow Mine (4), Ballyea Boy (5), Foodbroker Star (6), Society Lad (pu), The Arkle Bar (pu). Distances: One and a half, twenty lengths. 6m 41s. W £3.50. DF £2.80. SP 6-4fav.
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 M G Sheppard’s Fair Exchange (Cambridgeshire) (P Taiano),
2 Miss S Loggin’s Ebullient Equiname (Grafton) (S Morris),
3 A Howland-Jackson’s Hatcham Boy (Suffolk) (C Ward-Thomas).
Also: Dynamic Lord (4), Back Bar (pu), Royal Action (pu). Distances: Two lengths, fifteen lengths. 6m 42s. W £3.10. DF £3.50. SP 2-1 (Ebullient Equiname 5-4fav).
Race Five (Restricted Race):
1 Sir Chip Keswick’s Alpha Man (Puckeridge) (A Braithwaite),
2 J M Turner’s Pampered Gale (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
3 G Cooper’s Rip Kirby (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (owner).
Also: Marmalade Mountain (4), Leading Case (5), Mr Cooney (6), Backed to Exact (pu), Bakmalad (pu), Balla D’aire (pu), Black Mark (pu), Blayney’s Privilege (pu), Changing Fashion (pu), Dinsey Finnegan (pu), Gerej (pu), Heir of Gold (pu), Holy Moses (pu), Life of a Star (pu), Uncle Buck (pu). Distances: Head, five lengths. 6m 46s. W £6.70. DF £11.70. SP 5-1 (Leading Case 5-2fav).
Race Six (Confined Hunts Race):
1 M Kemp’s Tea Box (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 J M Turner’s Corston Joker (Suffolk) (A Sansome),
3 W Tolhurst’s Tarthooth (Essex and Suffolk).
Also: Village Copper (4), Fair and Fancy (pu), Still in Business (pu), Torus Spa (pu). Distances: One and a half, fifteen lengths. 6m 46s. W £2.30. DF £116.90. SP 6-4 (Village Copper 11-10fav).