Fleur Hawes had reason to smile through the pain during an excellent Waveney Harriers Point-To-Point meeting at Higham on Sunday.
Hawes, from Bressingham, is a successful trainer-jockey. But she had her riding ambitions for the current season thwarted when breaking her collar bone in a fall while exercising one of her charges a week earlier.
Undaunted, she was still able to carry out her trainer’s duties despite having her arm in a sling, and was delighted when her first runner, Star Double, showed previously hidden depths of courage and stamina to land the Men’s Open under Matt Smith, from Horseheath, near Haverhill.
Star Double made most of the running, but was overtaken by Whilsting Straits at the third last fence and looked beaten when that rival held a two-length lead at the next obstacle.
But he battled back most resolutely to regain the advantage after the last and held on to score by half a length. Caveman, trained near Wymondham by Nigel Bloom, was three lengths back in third and would have been even closer but for a final fence blunder at the last that saw jockey George Greenock perform circus acrobatics to survive.
Star Double’s triumph was particularly well received as he is owned by Fraser Duffin, from Diss, whose company Fuelcare, were the race sponsors.
Hawes and Duffin were almost celebrating a famous Open race double 30 minutes later. But their representative, Pouilly, was just touched off following a pulsating climax to the Ladies’ Open.
Pouilly just got the better of a tremendous duel with Beet de Bob up the length of the home straight only for the duo to be caught in the last few strides by the Hampshire-trained Big Moment, who came from a seemingly hopeless position at the third last to score by a neck and register his third victory of the season.
The day’s biggest field saw 16 line up for the Restricted Race. Only two of them mattered in the closing stages with Lotta Presents, ridden by James Owen, from Timworth near Bury St Edmunds, getting the better of Leader Blue by four lengths, the front pair having pulled a distance clear of the others.
Lotta Presents is a first winner as a trainer for John Ferguson, from Coolinge near Newmarket, who is better known in flat racing circles as bloodstock advisor to Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum.
The other East Anglian victory came in the opening Club Members Race as Itsallupintheair, the outsider of the three runners, took advantage of the late fall of Henry’s Pride to register a comfortable victory.Well ridden by Newmarket-based Harry Fowler, Itsallupintheair is owned by Andrew Scholfield, from Sibton, near Saxmundham, and is trained at Chediston, near Halesworth, by John Ibbott, who was worried beforehand that lack of fitness would be an issue as his horses have been badly held up by the recent cold snap.
Three Chords, who is trained in Northamptonshire but is owned by Cyndy Aldridge, from Cottenham near Cambridge, made an exciting debut in the second division of the Maiden and is a name to remember following an effortless victory. Aldridge named the six-year-old gelding in honour of her heroes, the rock band Status Quo, who she has seen in concert 420 times and allegedly only play three chords!
The other division of the Maiden went the way of the Yorkshire-trained outsider, Principal Lad.
That was not the biggest shock result, however, as the Warwickshire raider, Blue Hills, was on offer at 33-1 with the bookies prior to his front-running success in the PPORA Club Members Race.
Finally, Start Royal, trained in Oxfordshire by Alan Hill, continued his rapid ascent up the ranks with his fourth consecutive victory in the Intermediate Race.