Nigel Bloom dominated a hectic weekend of Point-To-Point racing by riding doubles at both the Waveney Harriers meeting at Higham on Saturday and the Fitzwilliam fixture at Cottenham yesterday to take his tally for the season to nine.
Saturday was also a triumph for Nigel’s father, Mike, from Wymondham, who saddled both his winners, in the two divisions of the Maiden Race.
Firstly, On Target justified favouritism with a four length defeat of The Secret Grey to give owners Stephen and Julia Howlett, from Attleborough, their first ever winner. Then Mr Magget, a recent purchase from Malvern Sales, proved two lengths too strong for Fountain Bank.
Ironically, given that the two sets of connections have to share the Munnings Challenge Cup, Dick Fryer, owner of Mr Magget in partnership with his daughter, Caroline, is great friends of the Howletts and they often travel to the races together.
“If Dick wants it for a dinner party, we can just pop it five miles up the A11 to his place in Wymondham,” Stephen Howlett joked.
Sense of Adventure was the pick of Bloom’s Cottenham pair, quickening away from Secret Streams to make a winning British debut in the Restricted Race. Owner-trainer Hugh Hodge, from Braughing, near Bishop’s Stortford, bought this Lord Bud gelding in Ireland last year but had to have him fired in December after he suffered a hock injury.
Bloom completed his weekend quartet when Sweet Talker stayed on dourly to pip Always Trying in the first division of the Maiden race. A first winner since 1998 for trainer Neville King, from Whepstead, near Bury St Edmunds, Sweet Talker is owned by Alan and Cindy Aldridge, who live within half a mile of the racecourse and vowed when they were very young that they would make it their ambition to have a winner there.
Other Cottenham highlights were Alan Coe and Louise Allan, two of East Anglia’s most accomplished jockeys, breaking their ducks for the season.
Coe, who has missed a few weeks with a shattered collarbone, was seen at his strongest in a brilliant finish to the final Maiden, getting Minino home by a head from Worthy Memories. It was also a first success of the year for Woodham Mortimer owner Barry Kennedy and his trainer Jim Ovel.
Katie Thory, who trains at Whittlesea, near Peterborough, has been dogged by ill fortune of late, having two horses killed and another one go lame just last week. So it was a great relief when Al Jawwal, ridden by Allan, got her off the mark for the campaign in the Members Race.
Village Copper, from the powerful Ruth Hayter yard, was the most impressive winner of the day, taking the Confined Race by an easy ten lengths under Lisa Rowe.
The two Open Races were both won by Kent raiders. The Men’s went to the injury-prone course specialist, Mister Spectator, who was giving jockey Peter Hickman, from Ashford, his first winner in four years.
The Ladies saw the superior fencing of Strong Medicine, who is trained near Edenbridge by Heather Silk, win the day against the odds-on favourite, Imperial Dawn.
Paul and Margaret Brigthwell, from Cosford Stud in Hadleigh, enjoyed mixed fortune in the Open Races at Higham. Commuter Country, their red hot favourite for the Men’s, inexplicably pulled up in the closing stages, leaving victory to Dockmaster, ridden by young Matthew Abrey, from Wretham, near Thetford.
But the Brightwells gained compensation half an hour later in the Ladies’, as Cracking Idea adopted his usual trailblazing tactics to beat Gatchou Mans by a distance.
Anne-Marie Hayes unfortunately suffered a broken leg when falling from Mill O’The Rags in that race, but her boyfriend, Neil King, got round safely in the Confined Race as his mount, Pangeran, beat the Brightwell’s representative, Popeshall, by 20 lengths.
Mai Point, who had a stone in his foot when flopping at Ampton recently, registered her second course success of the year when proving five lengths too good for Ar Aghaidh Abhailein the Restricted Race. Mai Point was ridden by Coral Grissell and is trained at Pebmarsh, near Halstead, by Paula Twinn.
Finally, the Waveney Members’ Race went to Monks Soham to give jockey Dominic Parker his fourth victory in this contest. Parker’s father, John, was officiating at the meeting as the starter for the 38th consecutive year.
Race One (Hunt Race):
1 J D and D R Parker’s Monks Soham (Waveney Harriers) (D Parker),
2 J M Bowles’ Absolute Limit (Waveney Harriers) (N Bloom),
3 Mrs J Hughes’ Artic Lodge (Waveney Harriers) (M Hewitt).
Also: Simmie (pu), Take It Easy (pu), Teluk (pu). Five lengths, a distance. 6m 08s. W œ1.50, DF œ1.80. SP 1-2fav.
Race Two (Confined Race):
1 Mrs A McVay and R Oliver-Smith’s Pangeran (Suffolk) (N King),
2 Mrs P Brightwell’s Popeshall (Essex and Suffolk) (C Ward),
3 Miss A Webb’s Going Around (Easton Harriers) (M Gingell).
Also: Candle Glow (f), Dynamite Dan (pu), Koathary (ur), On The Beer (pu), Royal Action (ur), Salmon Mead (pu), Still In Business (ur). 20 lengths, a distance. 5m 59s. W œ3.50, DF œ2.70. SP 4-5fav.
Race Three (Men’s Open Race):
1 R Abrey’s Dockmaster (Suffolk) (M Abrey),
2 B Dowling’s Stoney Valley (Easton Harriers) (M Gingell).
Also: Commuter Country (pu). 15 lengths. 6m 06s. W œ3.30. SP 7-2 (Commuter Country 2-7fav).
Race Four (Ladies’ Open Race): 1 Mrs P Brightwell’s Cracking Idea (Essex and Suffolk) (Mrs G d’Angibau),
2 Mr and Mrs A Howland-Jackson’s Gatchou Mans (Suffolk) (Miss L Rowe),
3 Mrs J Hughes Riverstown Lad (Cranwell Bloodhounds) (Miss L Allen).
Also: Dance on Sixpence (4), Pair of Jacks (5), Just Jack (ur), Mill O’ The Rags (f). A distance, eight lengths. 6m 04s. W œ1.30. DF œ2.80. SP 1-2fav.
Race Five (Maiden Race, Division One):
1 Mr and Mrs S Howlett’s On Target (Dunston Harriers) (N Bloom),
2 K Coe’s The Secret Grey (Essex Farmers and Union) (A Coe),
3 C Jarvis’ Out of Actons (Suffolk) (owner).
Also: Steel My Song (4), Johnny Cool (5), Cicero’s Law (6). Four lengths, four lengths. 6m 21s. W œ1.50. DF œ3.50. SP 4-6fav.
Race Six (Maiden Race, Division Two):
1 R Fryer and Miss C Fryer’s Mr Maggett (Brecon) (N Bloom),
2 T Alexander and R Barr’s Fountain Bank (Easton Harriers) (M Gingell),
3 D Clark’s Ger’s Girl (Essex and Suffolk) (A Coe).
Also: Henry Tartar (4), Citizen Band (Ref), Lancaster Boy (pu), The Arkle Bar (pu). Two lengths, three lengths. 6m 17s. W œ3.10. DF œ2.10. 7-4 (Fountain Bank 5-4fav).
Race Seven (Restricted Race):
1 Mrs P Twinn’s Mai Point (East Essex) (Miss C Grissell),
2 Miss S Wallace’s Ar Aghaidh Abhaile (E Anglian Bloodhounds) (G Cooper),
3 J Parker and Miss S Parker’s Harry Tartar (Waveney Harriers) (D Parker).
Also: Free and Equal (4), Rathkeal (5), Nursery Story (pu). Five lengths, two lengths. 6m 10s. W œ2.50. DF œ3. SP