Andrew Ayers, Emma Bell and Shane Walsh were the human stars of a quite superb West Norfolk Point-To-Point at Fakenham yesterday (Sunday).
But the undoubted equine hero of a top quality afternoon’s racing was Upham Lord, who won a Ladies’ Open Race of a calibre rarely before seen in East Anglia to take his unbeaten sequence for the current season to nine.
Upham Lord, who is trained near Louth in Lincolnshire by Jill Dawson, came home ahead of the gallant Celtic Duke, who ran a personal best to get within three lengths of the winner. The first prize of £145 more the covered the speeding fine which owner Elaine Wilson, from near Swaffham, had picked up on the way to the course!
Imperial Dawn took third, meaning that the first three home had won 15 of their previous 18 starts – and finished second in all the other three.
Ayers, who works for the merchant bank Close Brothers in London but lives at Gestingthorpe in Essex, notched his first-ever double, courtesy of the Robert Gardiner-trained pair of Native Status and Novatara.
This brace took him to the top of the standings for the In The Pink-sponsored East Anglian Novice Gentleman Riders’ Championship. And on each occasion victory came at the expense of Andrew Braithwaite – his closest rival in that hotly-contested Championship.
In the Confined Race Native Status beat Wise Advice by ten lengths after his task was made easier by the departure of Braithwaite’s mount, Gatchou Mans, at the fifth last.
And in the Men’s Open Braithwaite soon built up a commanding advantage aboard the favourite, Dry Highline. But, as usual, the front-runner’s jumping left a lot to be desired and he was overhauled approaching the last by Novatara, who went on to score by three lengths.
This three miles on a sharp track is a bare minimum for Novatara, who may bid for a course hat-trick at the much more suitable venue of Marks Tey next Sunday. But beware, Novatara is an unreliable character who “could lose a walkover if he was not in the mood” according to Ayers.
Bell, who is just 16 years old and lives near Biggleswade, made up for her controversial defeat at Cottenham two weeks earlier by registering her first ever victory in the young horse Maiden Race. Her mount, Parsonhumfrywebber, came from a long way off the pace to beat A Fine Story by 25 lengths.
The other Maiden also witnessed an inaugural riding success as 18-year-old Irishman Walsh guided Whatacharlie to a 15 length defeat of Filou du Bois. Trainer Paul Keane, who had come all the way from Somerset, later revealed that the winner, who had completed the course just once (finishing last) in 15 career starts, had been the subject of no less than five wind operations!
The opening Members’ Race went to Rafter, who is owned, trained and was ridden by Chris Carman, from Heydon, near Aylsham. And Nigel Bloom, from Wymondham, was aboard the Lincolnshire-trained Silver Spider, who scored an easy victory in the Restricted Race.
Race One (Members Race):
1 C Carman’s Rafter (North Norfolk Harriers) (owner),
2 Mrs S Woods and D Wales’ Play Along (West Norfolk) (W Wales),
3 The Cherry Tree Partnership’s Doctor Dunklin (North Norfolk Harriers) (R Morgan-Evans).
Twenty lengths, a distance. 6m 36s. W £2. DF £2.50. SP 4-6 fav.
Race Two (Confined Hunts Race):
1 A Ayers’ Native Status (East Essex) (owner),
2 M Kemp’s Wise Advice (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
3 A Merriam’s Cormeen Lord (Easton Harriers) (Alexander Merriam).
Also: Sorcerer’s Drum (4), Gawngadinn (5), Bruan (6), Royal Action (7), Pongo Waring (8), Dockmaster (9), Absolute Limit (pu), Alfredo Garcia (pu), Drumlin (pu), Gatchoo Mans (ur), John Tufty (pu), Lovelock (pu). Ten lengths, 12 lengths. 6m 27s. W £5. DF £43. SP 3-1 (Bruan 7-4 fav).
Race Three (Restricted Race):
1 M Barthorpe’s Silver Spider (Southwold) (N Bloom),
2 Mr and Mrs J Ridge, Mrs P Hamilton and M Kemp’s Nowornever (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
3 B Belchem’s Give Him A Chance (East Essex) (R H Fowler).
Also: Barton Saint (4), Light The Sky (5), Al Jawwal (pu), Glass Breaker (pu), Glencoy (pu), Holmby Copse (ur), Josh’s Choice (pu), Premier First (pu), Shirley’s Time (pu), Spittal Beck (pu), You Can Quote Me (f). Fifteen lengths, three lengths. 6m 29s. W £7. DF £51. SP 6-1 (Barton Saint 5-4 fav).
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 A Ayers’ Novatara (East Essex) (owner),
2 Mrs C Villar’s Dry Highline (Suffolk) (A Braithwaite),
3 W Barber’s Tom De Savoie (West Norfolk) (W Wales).
Also: Adamatic (4), Dynamic Lord (pu), Fair And Fancy (ur), Layham Low (pu), Some Go West (pu). Three lengths, a distance. 6m 30s. W £3. DF £12.50. SP 3-1 (Dry Highline 5-4 fav).
Race Five (Ladies’ Open Race):
1 Mrs E Wilson’s Upham Lord (Brocklesby) (Mrs F Needham),
2 J M Turner’s Celtic Duke (Suffolk) (Miss Z Turner),
3 Mrs P Rowe and C Bazley’s Imperial Dawn (Pytchley) (R Cope).
Also: Ballyea Boy (4), Uron V (5), Altar Society (ref), Castle Road (pu), Daring Native (pu), General Assembly (ur), Rathgibbon (pu). Three lengths, a distance. 6m 27s. W £1.60. DF £2.50. SP 4-7 fav.
Race Six (Maiden Race for 5, 6 and 7-year-olds):
1 Home Farm Racing Club’s Parsonhumfrywebber (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Miss E Bell),
2 H Hill’s A Fine Story (Granta Harriers) (A Williams),
3 B Belchem’s Paddy’s Dream (East Essex) (R H Fowler).
Also: Sydney Hobart (4), Baron Halebop (pu), Count Frederick (pu), Crown Rule (pu), Ernford Tommygun (f), No Penalty (pu), Our Friend Vinc (pu), Persian Hero (pu), Shinning Note (pu), Wicklow Chase (pu). Twenty-five lengths, two lengths. 6m 38s. W ££5.20. DF ££4. SP 3-1 (Sydney Hobart 6-4 fav).
Race Seven (Maiden Race for eight years old and over):
1 P Keane’s Whatacharlie (Avon Vale) (S Walsh),
2 Ms A Embiricos’s Filou Du Bois (Cambridgeshire University Draghounds) (owner),
3 Lady Green and T Buxton’s Dream Weaver (Mid Surrey Farmers Draghounds) (G Cooper).
Also: HarknessWarrior (4), Bannagh Express (pu), Cardinal Way (pu), Fair Storm (pu), Grey Fusilier (pu), Skirmishing (pu), Tell Monty (pu). Fifteen lengths, three lengths. 6m 44s. W £41. DF £46. SP 16-1 (Tell Monty 5-4 fav).