The hardy souls who braved a biting wind and intermittent hail to attend Saturday’s Easton Harriers Point-To-Point at High Easter on Saturday were rewarded with eight competitive races and plenty of late drama.
And, as the fiercest of the hail storms descended ten minutes after the closing Novice Riders’ Race, it could not cool the enthusiasm of winning owner-rider, John Morrey, who was celebrating his first ever winner after his mount, Mr Naborro, had defied Becky Ward (another pilot seeking an initial success) aboard Magic To Do.
Morrey, a 35-year-old who lives in Newmarket and works for Tattersalls, the equine auction house, rode a cool race, stalking the runner-up before squeezing up the inside approaching the final fence.
Mr Naborro was also a first winner as a trainer for Cowlinge handler Sarah Gunn, much as Maiden scorer Suir Castle had been for Frenchman Geoffroy de la Sayette, who has a yard at Hardwick, near Cambridge, earlier in the afternoon.
Suir Castle proved a length too quick for Edgar Wilde to break a 16-year riding drought for part-owner Graham Tawell.
The other Maiden saw a much more clearcut victory as Minehill Lad, partnered by Burwell’s Matt Smith, took advantage of the third-last fence fall of Huron to come home a distance clear of the front-running favourite, The Factor.
Himself unlucky to depart at the third-last on both his British starts, Minehill Lad is owned by Roy Green, from Soham, and his triumph was a welcome pick-me-up for trainer Katie Thory.
The Great Gidding (near Huntingdon) handler had been hospitalised for two weeks recently with a nasty bout of colitis and was quick to praise her staff and owner for keeping the show on the road while she was away.
Trainer Robert Abrey, from Wretham, near Thetford, and Wymondham-based jockey Rupert Stearn had an down-and-up day as Another Dude crashed out of the Men’s Open when in a clear lead at the final fence but Forget The Ref jumped the same obstacle with aplomb to land a stylish Intermediate Race victory.
Caveman, ridden by George Greenock, from Gateley, near Fakenham, and trained at Wymondham by Nibby Bloom, inherited the lead and his victory may have been doubly fortunate as second-placed Hatsnall was badly hampered by the prostrate Another Dude after the last.
Another Dude rolled on top of Stearn, who was slow to get his feet. But his bruises will have been much more bearable after Forget The Past defied the muddy conditions to scoot home unopposed for owner Ian Thurtle.
A final fence departure also featured in the Restricted Race but by that stage the spring-heeled Sunyblaze had got the measure of the chasing favourite, Rear Gunner, who had made numerous errors.
Shoddy jumping failed to stop Rockville from edging out Top Boots in the Hunts Club Members Race thanks to a never-say-die ride from James Owen, from Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds. Driven along throughout the final circuit, Rockville finally overhauled his rival at the last and struggled home for a length and a half success for owner-trainer Nigel Padfield, from Abridge, near Epping.
The fastest time of the day came in the Ladies Open where a battle of the greys ended in a two length defeat of Carryonharry by Bedtime Boys, trained in Leicestershire by Holly Campbell and ridden by Louise Allan.