Trainer Ruth Hayter and her principal owner, Anthony Howland Jackson, ended a two-year wait for a winner with a double at the West Norfolk Point-To-Point at Fakenham Racecourse on Sunday.
Hayter, from Glemsford, has long been one of East Anglia’s top trainers, but her horses were suffering from a virus in 2004 and her string has been dogged by bad luck during this campaign.
And as Present Moment lined up for the Restricted Race no Hayter horse had tasted victory since this horse won a Maiden at this very meeting back in 2003.
Initially it appeared that her fortunes had failed to improve, as Present Moment was left 15 lengths at the start and, jumping hesitantly, dropped even further behind when a horse fell in front of him at the second fence.But jockey Andrew Braithwaite somehow cajoled his mount into gaining contact with the remaining ten runners and, under what must go down as the ‘ride of the season’, Present Moment held a narrow lead over the last obstacle.
Still the gods seemed set to conspire against him, as a loose horse threatened to cause havoc, but Braithwaite was in no mood to be denied and Present Moment passed the winning post with half a length to spare over John The Mole.
Typically after such a long drought, Hayter and Howland Jackson, from Wakes Colne, were back in the winner’s enclosure barely half an hour later after Gatchou Mans took advantage of the early departure of the two favourites, Madmidge and Montys Tag, to land the Men’s Open Race under Eye’s Alex Merriam.
James Owen, from Newmarket, breathed new life into the East Anglian Jockeys’ Championship with a treble at Penshurst down in Kent on Saturday.
He scored on Westfield John and Shannon Quest, both owned and trained by Ampton’s Joe Turner, and was also successful on Runningwiththemoon, owned by Bury St Edmunds’ Ray Newby, to take his tally for the year to ten and cut David Kemp’s lead in the title race to just two.
Owen and Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford, traded blows throughout the Fakenham fixture but Kemp ended the day in a marginally better position after a double took him to a new personal best of 14 wins.
This was initiated when Deckie survived a terrible blunder at the third last to overhaul Owen’s mount, King Plato, who was over ten lengths clear at the penultimate obstacle only to go lame on the run to the next, in the Fakenham Bookmakers-sponsored Club Members’ Race.
Owen pulled one back when Hi Tech Man, trained at Herringswell by Eric Cantillon, took the Hiscox Intermediate in thrilling style, denying Tooley Park by a head.
But Kemp had the last say when Crystal Dance justified a big gamble in brilliant fashion when trouncing his 12 rivals in the Open Maiden.
This French-bred five-year-old was only bought by Tim and Sue Wood, from Shipdham, near Dereham, in February, and looks to have a bright future.
Ain Tecbalet, trained near Wymondham by Nigel Bloom, took the Members’ race under Gateley’s George Greenock while the favourite, Little Brown Bear, justified an eight-hour round trip from Worcestershire with a comfortable triumph in the Ladies’ Open.
Race One (West Norfolk and North Norfolk Harriers Members’ Race):
1 Countess Cathcart’s Ain Tecbalet (West Norfolk) (G Greenock),
2 Mrs A Wales’ Second Thoughts (West Norfolk) (D Kemp),
3 The Wishful Thinking Partnership’s Tom De Savoie (West Norfolk) (N Bloom).
Also: Sydney Hobart (4), Zabadi (5), Sealed Orders (6), Stacky Light (7), Just Magical (pu). Three lengths, five lengths. 6.19. Win £3. DF £4. SP 2-1 (Second Thoughts 7-4 fav).
Race Two (East Anglian Area Club Members’ Race):
1 Mrs F Hawes’ Deckie (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 J M Turner’s King Plato (Suffolk) (J Owen),
3 Countess Cathcart’s Homme De Fer (West Norfolk) (G Greenock).
Also: Lord Euro (f). Three lengths, eight lengths. 6.13. Win £1.50. DF £2. SP 4-6 fav.
Race Three (Restricted Race):
1 Mr A Howland-Jackson’s Present Moment (Suffolk) (A Braithwaite),
2 J M Turner’s John The Mole (Suffolk) (J Owen),
3 A Pennock’s Pampered Lad (Cambridge University) (owner).
Also: Socarineau (4), Society Scandal (5), Mackoy (6), No Nay Never (7), Asabache (ur), Holywell Girl (pu), Jungle Juice (pu), Mon Esprit (ur), Rocja (pu). Half a length, two lengths. 6.23. Win £15. DF £40. SP 12-1 (Mon Esprit 6-4 fav).
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 A Howland-Jackson’s Gatchou Mans (A Merriam),
2 Mrs L Latchford’s Coonogue (Burton) (M Smith),
3 J M Turner’s Minister York (Suffolk) (J Owen).
Also: Chiappucci (ur), Madmidge (f), Monty’s Trag (ro), Prologue (pu). Twenty lengths, ten lengths. 6.19. Win £5. DF £40. SP 7-1 (Madmidge 10-11 fav).
Race Five (Ladies’ Open):
1 G Barlow and Mrs D William’s Little Brown Bear (Aubrighton Woodland) (Miss J Williams),
2 Ms A M Hays’ Bush Hill Bandit (Cambridge University) (Ms L Allan),
3 J M Turner’s Celtic Duke (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner).
Also: Left Bank (4), Mister Audi (5), Dancing Ranger (ur), Straight On (pu), Twotiming Gent (pu). Five lengths, two lengths. 6.15. Win £2. DF £2.50. SP 5-4 fav.
Race Six (The Intermediate Race):
1 E Cantillon’s Hi Tech Man (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (J Owen),
2 J T Hunt’s Tooley Park (Pytchley) (J Tarry),
3 Mrs H Colletta’s MC Attack (Cambridge University) (N Moore).
Also: Marmalade Mountain (4), Baron Halebop (pu), Castle Road (pu), Gawngadinn (pu), Hunca Munca (pu), Peats Ridge , Valman (pu). Head, three-quarters of a length. 6.17. Win £4. DF £10. SP 6-1 (Tooley Park 2-1 fav).
Race Seven (Open Maiden Race):
1 Mr and Mrs T Wood’s Crystal Dance (Middleton) (D Kemp),
2 P Millington’s Pernickety King (Fernie) (owner),
3 Mrs V Gingell and Mrs A Barrett’s Tis She (Miss A Stennett).
Also: Royal Alibi (4), Ashgrove (5), Here Comes Choosey (6), Bobbies Ryde (7), Cosmic Sky (pu), Geordie Macgregor (pu), Golden Shred (pu), Pernarwel (pu), Weybridge Lad (pu). A distance, half a length. 6.25. Win £3. DF £10. SP 2-1 fav.