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Dunston Harriers at Ampton
Sunday 10th January 2016
by James Crispe

Berties Dream was the star of a sun-kissed Dunston Harriers Point-To-Point at Ampton on Sunday, carrying off the Challenge Cup on offer to the winner of the AGA-sponsored Ladies Open Race for a third consecutive year.

Ridden with her usual aplomb by the National Champion Lady Rider, Gina Andrews, Berties Dream was taken into the lead with a circuit to run and only had to be kept up to his work to beat the gallant veteran, Swift Counsel, by five lengths with the favourite, Sharp Suit, half a length back in third.

Berties Dream is the standard bearer for Newmarket trainer Lauren Braithwaite and there was a charming photocall afterwards as her twin baby sons, sporting AGA-emblazoned woolly hats, posed in their buggy with the trophy and a bottle of champagne alongside members of the winning ownership syndicate, the Marriage family from High Easter, near Chelmsford.

Berties Dream is now 13 years of age and, although this performance proved that he still has plenty of vigour, he is likely to be kept to Point-To-Points this term as a glittering career, which to date has encompassed 13 victories including one at the Cheltenham Festival, begins to wind down.

It is unusual for a fixture at this Bury St Edmunds venue to pass without a victory for trainer Andrew Pennock, whose stable is situated within sight of the course at Timworth Green.

The sequence looked like it might come to an end when Pennock's heavily backed favourite, Counting Stars, found Emperor Arcadius a length and a half too strong in the Open Maiden Race, the result sparking a riding double for Gina Andrews, this time in partnership with her husband, Warwickshire trainer Tom Ellis.

But Pennock did hit the target with his other runner on the card, Galros Lady. Kicked for home at the third last by jockey Dickie Collinson, from Sutton, near Ely, she held off the late charge of Lule Kyle, who is trained at Wymondham by Sandra Fryer, to land the Subaru Restricted Race by a neck.

Owned by Michael Clarke, from Hartest in Suffolk, George Wright, from Middleton in Essex, and Steve Stevenson, from Little Henny in Essex, Galros Lady is a tough mare as she had won at Cottenham just a week earlier.

Afterwards Pennock was at pains to insist that he had not lost faith in Counting Stars despite his defeat here, suggesting that he will now wait for some dry weather as he will be a much better horse on good ground.

Which is not to say that Ampton was riding any worse than the official going of 'Soft, Good To Soft in places'. Indeed, clerk of the course Simon Stearn had the track in fine condition and it had coped with recent heavy rain remarkably well.

Two 20-year-old jockeys displayed their prowess in the saddle to start and finish the afternoon with stylish victories.

First Max Kendrick, who hails from Assington, near Colchester but is now based at the Oxfordshire yard of the winning trainer, Sarah Case, gave Court Red Handed a copybook ride to lift the Club Members Race at the expense of Carlanstown, who is trained at Chediston, Suffolk, by John Ibbott.

Then Hugh Nugent notched the fourth winner of his career when guiding another Warwickshire raider, Kristian Gray, to an easy triumph in the closing Novice Riders Race.

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