|As the horses left the
paddock, the commentator described the Mixed Open as
“probably the best class race Ampton has staged”. A big
billing, but the race lived up to it. McHattie, formerly with
Martin Pipe, was sent off favourite at around even money. He
effectively put himself out of contention early on, losing thirty
lengths with a terrible blunder at the second. David Crosse
(complete with a tub of Loctite) did remarkably well to stay on
board and although he closed eyecatchingly on the leading trio on
the final circuit, he was never in with a realistic chance
thereafter. Copper Thistle, Caroline Bailey’s remarkable
fourteen year old, made a lot of the running and held every chance
until two out when the ex Terry Casey trained Even Flow (now with
Chris Bealby), stalked closely by Storm of Gold (another ex-Pipe
inmate) eased passed him. These two fought out a close finish with
Joe Docker on Even Flow just keeping enough in hand to repel the
strong urgings of David Dunsdon on the short run in.
J.M.Turner, who trains in the village, won the First Division of the Open Maiden with Millenium Way, also a former winner under Rules. Ridden aggressively by Andrew Sansome he took up the running three out and battled bravely to the line. The “one to follow” from the race, however, has to be Sara. Hickman’s Nubro. An eight year old, he was having only his second run in public (previously third in Ireland). He closed menacingly on the winner, drawing level at the last, where he stumbled on landing. He was closing again at the winning post and would have won in another fifty yards.
Sara Hickman also came out second best in a close finish to The Countryside Alliance Club Members Race for Novice Riders. Her Garrison Friendly, friendless in the market at 14/1, ridden by his owner (N Wilson) had been content to sit at the back early on and, hogging the inside berth on the final circuit emerged as the only serious challenger to Tea Box who had made the running throughout. He pegged back a ten-length deficit three out to get within a length at the last. David Kemp, however, had kept something in reserve on Tea Box and maintained that margin up to the post.
Earlier a novice rider, Miss E Neyens,
produced the riding performance of the day to take the Intermediate
on Our Man Flin. Having found herself in the lead as they
approached the downward fence on the final circuit she eased the
horse back to sit behind Derryair and Blackchesters until the
second last when she let her horse have it’s head and pulled
away to win by a comfortable five lengths plus. Blackchesters
stayed on to finish second. He will undoubtedly be suited by slower
going (the course rode good, good to soft in places). Contingency,
touted by many as a horse to follow this season, ran badly to
Tom De Savoie was another Caroline Bailey favourite to bite the dust. He failed to get the better of the Mike Bloom / Nibby Bloom combination on The Rural Dean in the day’s opening Confined Race. The winner was defending an unbeaten record in Point To Points, having won last year at both Cottenham and Ampton. Despite being an eleven-year-old he gives the impression of more to come, perhaps even in Open company. It was good to see Village Copper hint at a return to his form of two years ago. The Ruth Hayter trained ten year old was always up with the pace and held every chance until fading between the last two, eventually finishing third.
The Restricted was won by Bill Warner’s Euro Alert, a Maiden winner in Ireland, coming home on the bridle with the minimum of fuss.