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Puckeridge at Horseheath
Saturday 26th March 2016
by James Crispe

Galros Lady continued on her merry way with a fifth consecutive victory to underline why she is Britain's top female point-to-pointer of the season at the Puckeridge Point-To-Point at Horseheath, near Haverhill, on Easter Saturday.

Trained at Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds, by Andrew Pennock, and ridden with panache by Dickie Collinson, from Sutton, near Ely, Galros Lady was not even made favourite for the Intermediate Race despite her impressive recent form figures, the bookies instead favouring the Shropshire raider, Abbeyview.

But the market leader folded tamely up the final hill and it was left to Blue Benny, trained near Thetford by David Kemp, to make Galros Lady pull out all the stops. But the mare did just that, stretching away after the final fence to score by a length and a half.

In an attempt to attract decent-sized fields at Easter, when no less than 22 meetings are staged across the nation, the organisers boosted the prize money to £1,000 for both open races.

This move, combined with Clerk Of The Course John Sharp's herculean efforts in getting the racing surface in immaculate shape, was rewarded with six competitive races and a large crowd despite the cold and damp weather.

Popaway showed what might be possible for Galros Lady in future seasons when securing her twelfth career victory with a startling late burst of speed in the Ladies Open. Trained in Oxfordshire by Pauline Harkin, this success should set her up for the mighty challenge of the Grand National fences in the Crabbie's Fox Hunters Chase at Aintree on April 7th.

The Mens Open witnessed an impressive display by Empire Builder to follow up his victory in a similar race at Ampton two weeks earlier.

Empire Builder, who is trained in Northamptonshire by Gerald Bailey and was ridden by George Greenock, from Gateley, near Fakenham, often makes hard work of things. But this time, aided by drying ground and the application of sheepskin cheekpieces, he had the race in the bag with almost half a mile still to run.

The best riding display of the day came from 19-year-old Alex Ferguson, from Cowlinge, neat Newmarket, as his perseverance aboard the lazy Tommy O'Dwyer in the Club Members Race, allowed his Nick Wright-trained mount to prevail in a race which saw three of its four runners land in unison over the final fence.

Floreat, trained in Newmarket by James Owen, got off the mark at the 18th attempt in the Open Maiden to give his Irish jockey Tim Donworth – now himself based in Newmarket as pupil assistant to flat trainer, William Haggas – his first British success.

And spectators who braved the cold wind to the bitter end were able to enjoy the spectacle of a final race thriller as My Alfie, ridden by Wymondham's Rupert Stearn, overcame an eight-length deficit up the home straight to collar Ignite A Light right on the line in the Restricted Race.

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