Some warming spring weather made for an enjoyable day's racing at Cottenham on Sunday for the Fitzwilliam (Milton) Point-to-Point, where a good-sized crowd witnessed a day dominated by local horses and saw two notable doubles on the card.
Just as he had done at the Waveney Harriers fixture at Higham exactly a month ago, local trainer John Ibbott, based at Chediston in Suffolk, enjoyed a double from just two runners on the card. Furthermore, it was with the same two horses that had scored at Higham. Mountain Emperor started the ball rolling when successful in a two-runner match for the Intermediate Race. Usually held up for a late run, Mountain Emperor responded well to the more forceful tactics employed on this occasion by the in-form Gina Andrews and was able to make all from sole rival Fraudster who made mistakes and was ultimately held off by a length and a half.
Gina Andrews is setting a furious pace at the head of the standings for the National Lady Rider's Championship and she went on to make it thirteen winners in point-to-points for the season aboard John Ibbott's improving mare Finnish Melody in the Restricted Race. Angela Long's homebred mare responded well to Gina's assistance in the saddle to hold off the recent Marks Tey winner Argentato by three lengths. Finnish Melody remains unbeaten in her two point-to-points to date, having broken her maiden at Higham following an unsuccessful spell under rules. John Ibbott stated that he would not risk the mare on very firm ground, so he will monitor ground conditions before committing her to another race.
Despite owning the prolific Caveman, the Countess Cathcart, nor her son George Greenock who rides the horses, has ever achieved a double on one day, but they put that right on Sunday with two winners both trained by Nigel Bloom who is based near Wymondham in Norfolk . It was their stable star Caveman, winning an incredible thirteenth career point-to-point, who stayed on tenaciously to capture the Mens Open by three-quarters of a length from Took My Eye. George Greenock has now won twelve races aboard Caveman, including at Marks Tey two weeks ago, which is where the determined duo may appear next on April 2nd.
The Countess Cathcart and George Greenock accomplished their debut double with "family pet" Rockfield, who broke his maiden at the fourteenth attempt in the Eight Year-Olds and Over Maiden. Left in front by the fall at the third-last fence of the strong-travelling leader Mister Tibus who was eight lengths clear at the time, Rockfield responded gamely to the urgings of his rider to win by twelve lengths. Quite well supported in the betting ring, Rockfield is a firm favourite at home and is hunted by several different members of the Countess Cathcart's family, who are based at Gateley in Norfolk. Rockfield may well reappear at their local West Norfolk Point-to-Point at Fakenham on April 10th.
Another local trainer Henry Hill, from Great Gidding near Huntingdon, enjoyed success on the card when Greek Star bounced off the good-to-firm going to win the opening Fitzwilliam Hunt Members, Subscribers and Farmers Race by twelve lengths. It was Greek Star's second career success from sixteen point-to-point starts and he will kept on the go for the remainder of the season since he enjoys the faster spring ground.
The Turner Family, long-time supporters of East Anglian point-to-pointing, took their tally to four winners for the season thus far when Parrain and Louise Allan took the Ladies Open in good style. Louise has ridden three of those Turner winners and her experience and determination came to the fore once again. She coaxed the lazy Parrain to the front five fences from home and kept him going for a four-length victory. This was the first success in a Ladies Open for this formerly smart French hurdler, as he is usually ridden by the currently sidelined James Owen.
Another jockey to benefit from an injury to a weighing room colleague was Hugh McKenna, who was thrilled to ride just his second career winner in the concluding Four to Seven-Year-Old Maiden. The injured Matt Stanley was scheduled to ride the four-year-old filly Always Roses, as he would have been able to ride at the allotted weight of ten stone. Unfortunately Hugh Mckenna, who works for the filly's trainer Antonia Bealby, based at Barrowby in Lincolnshire, could manage no lighter than eleven stone and thus Always Roses was forced to carry a hefty fourteen pounds overweight. However, this did not stop the gutsy filly, who despite actually not yet reaching her fourth birthday, showed a superior turn of foot on the run-in to thwart odds-on favourite Midnight Ruler by two lengths. Owner/breeder James Henderson was understandably thrilled to greet his winner, who has already run on the flat and over hurdles, as he raced the winner's dam Belvoir, who was second for him in the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot.
1st Race Members
2nd Race Intermediate
3rd Race Mens Open
4th Race Ladies Open
5th Race Restricted
6th Race 8yos and over Maiden
7th Race 4yo-7yo Maiden (2m4f)