Nibby Bloom, still the most respected and popular member of the East Anglian Point-To-Point Jockeys’ fraternity 12 years after he won the national title, begun the West Norfolk meeting with a winner and ended it with a broken leg at Fakenham on Saturday.
Ironically, Bloom, 43, from Wymondham, only partnered Homme de Fer in the opening Hunt Race because regular pilot George Greenock has been absent all season long after himself breaking a leg in a hunting accident just before Christmas.
And, following his five length defeat of Wonder Weasel, retirement plans for 14-year-old Homme de Fer may be shelved in order to give Greenock the chance to ride the evergreen veteran again next season.
In the concluding Maiden Race, Bloom’s mount, Harry’s Lane, unshipped him at the eleventh fence and the prostrate jockey was trampled by the eventual winner, Standandbecounted, ridden by Newmarket-based Nick Pearce.
Concern for Bloom was the overriding emotion afterwards but trainer Julie Read, from Chevington, near Bury St Edmunds, was grateful to have her fortunes change for the better after Ballyketrail, her only other runner on the day, had suffered a fatal injury.
The result also completed a great week for owner-breeder, Ian Low, from Clacton, as Standandbecounted’s half-sister, Wolnai, had won a bumper at Sligo in Ireland seven days earlier.
Read was quick to spare a thought for the five-year-old’s usual rider, Matthew Mackley, who was in attendance in a sling having broken his elbow in a fall at Aintree on April 6. It’s so sad for Matthew as he has put hours of work into getting Standandbecounted ready for the racecourse, Read admitted.
The remainder of the card was dominated by Rupert Stearn, David Kemp, James Owen and Amy Stennett, four of the top East Anglian jockeys of 2006, each enjoying one victory apiece.
Stearn, from Wymondham, took his advantage in the race for the David Turner Trophy for the region’s winningmost rider to two when Rocja gave him his 14th victory of the campaign in the Confined Race.Rocja, who has been transformed since Stearns father, owner-trainer Simon, decided to apply a visor at Cottenham three weeks ago, made every inch of the running to beat Ain Tecbalet by two lengths.
Kemp was quick to respond, reducing the deficit to one when Deckie, who he trains at Kilverstone for Bressingham’s Fleur Hawes, took the Volkswagen Touareg Men’s Open. Deckieis now set for the Volkswagen Touareg Final at Towcester on May 15.
And, not to forgotten, Newmarket’s Owen took his own tally for the year to 11 when Saffronto, who is trained at Ampton near Bury St Edmunds by Joe Turner, landed the Restricted Race.
Stennett, from Thelnetham, joined Turner’s granddaughter, Zoe, on the five-winner mark at the head of the Hunter Rowe Trophy standings for East Anglia’s top female rider when Find Me Another took the Ladies’ Open.
Race One (West Norfolk and North Norfolk Harriers Members’ Race):
1 Countess Cathcart’s Homme De Fer (West Norfolk) (N Bloom),
2 Mrs A Vaughan-Jones and G Luck’s Wonder Weasel (West Norfolk) (Alex Vaughan-Jones),
3 D Napier’s Doe Nal Rua (North Norfolk Harriers) (R Morgan-Evans).
Also: Sutton Courtenay (4), Here Comes Choosey (5), Hoplite (6). Five lengths, 10 lengths. 6.22. W £1.90. DF £5. SP 1-2 fav.
Race Two (Confined Race):
1 Mr and Mrs S Stearn’s Rocja (Suffolk) (R Stearn),
2 Countess Cathcart’s Ain Tecbalet (West Norfolk) (N Bloom),
3 G Frank’s Sure Future (Cambs University) (Miss L Franks).
Also: Crystal Dance (4), Present Moment (5), Ballykettrail (pu), John The Mole (pu), Lord Valnic (pu). Two lengths, five lengths. 6.18. W £5.40. DF £22. SP 5-1 (Crystal Dance 4-5 fav).
Race Three Restricted Race:
1 J M Turner’s Saffronto (Suffolk) (J Owen),
2 A H Hodge’s Our Man Friday (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (N Bloom),
3 W Poulton’s CelestialHeights (Essex) (A Braithwaite).
Also: Combe Castle (4), Second Thoughts (5). Five lengths, five lengths. 6.30. W £2.30. DF £3.20. SP evens fav.
Race Four (Men’s Open Race):
1 Mrs F Hawes’ Deckie (Suffolk) (D Kemp),
2 J M Turner’s Westfield John (Suffolk) (J Owen),
3 A Howland-Jackson’s Gatchou Mans (Suffolk) (A Merriam).
Also: Lisnagar Hide (4), Cross River (ur), Libido (pu). Fifteen lengths, three lengths. 6.20. W £1.40. DF £12. SP 2-5 fav.
Race Five (Ladies Open Race):
1 Mrs C Stennett, Mrs C Aldridge and Mrs E King’s Find Me Another (Pytchley) (Miss A Stennett),
2 Miss K Smith and J Owen’s Hot Plunge (Vine and Craven) (Miss K Smith),
3 Lord Somerleyton’s Mon Esprit (Dunston Harriers) (Miss L Allen).
Also: Leatherback (4), Catherine’s Way (pu), Multi Franchise (pu). Fifteen lengths, a distance. 6.14. W £2.90. DF £10.40. SP 7-4 (Leatherback 10-11 fav).
Race Six (Open Maiden Race):
1 I Low’s Standandbecounted (Cottesmore) (N Pearce),
2 Mr and Mrs H Hodge’s Ashgrove (East Anglian Bloodhounds) (J Owen),
3 The Medbourne Mates Partnership’s Windtalker (Fernie) (A Merriam).
Also: Hilly Be (4), Classy Clarence (pu), Harry’s Lane (ur), Shady Minx (pu). 6.40. W £6.10. DF £23. SP 16-1 (Harry’s Lane 7-4 fav).
Pony Race One (Children’s Pony Flat Race – Ponies 13.2hh and under):
1 P Roberts’ The Road Runner (Cambs with Enfield Chace) (Harvey Roberts),
2 Mrs F Allsopp’s Ardenhall Jazz (Fitzwilliam) (Georgina Allsopp),
3 Mrs K Taylor’s Gold Dawn Chorus (North Norfolk) (Daisy Taylor).
Also: Mabel (4), Valentine Comet (5), Miss Dynamite (6), Breidden Jollity (7), Sir Walter (8), Dusty (9). One length, two lengths. 1.26.
Pony Race Two (Children’s Pony Flat Race – Ponies 14.2hh and under):
1 M Slender’s Sparkling Destany (Fitzwilliam) (Shannon Slender),
2 Miss E Clutterbuck’s Bonnie Safira (Thurlow) (Emma Clutterbuck),
3 Mr and Mrs S Braham’s Hero (Suffolk) (Amy Braham).
Also: Shafleet Molly (4), Chaplin (5).Five lengths, two lengths. 1.51.