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Essex at High Easter
Saturday 9th April 2016
by James Crispe

Bavard Court gave the Turner family, from Ampton near Bury St Edmunds, an incredible 17th victory in the prestigious Warwick Vase as the expected duel between Berties Dream and It Was Me failed to materialise at the Essex Point-To-Point at High Easter on Saturday.

It Was Me failed to complete the course for the third time in a row, unseating Carey Williamson at the 11th fence, while, despite the persistent urgings of jockey Gina Andrews, odds-on favourite Berties Dream failed to get into top gear until it was too late.

Instead, the 16-1 outsider, Bavard Court, overhauled the long-time leader, Little Legend, approaching the final obstacle and, although idling badly in the closing stages to allow Berties Dream to get within a neck, held on to pouch the £500 first prize.

The victory was particularly sweet for the former East Anglian Champion Jockey, Louise Allan, who was posting her first success of the campaign. Allan, from Exning, near Newmarket, also trains and just two days earlier had suffered the heartbreak of losing her best horse, Clonbanan Lad, when he suffered a heart attack during the Foxhunter Chase at Aintree.

Steeplechasing is often portrayed as a 'rich man's sport' but Saturday's proceedings proved on two occasions that you don't always need to splash out big money to find a Point-To-Point winner.

Firstly, Ignite A Light, bought for just £2,800 by owner Alice Vaughan-Jones, from Wells-next-the-Sea, saw off the late thrust of Ballalough by half a length to land the Subaru-sponsored Restricted Race.

Ignite A Light was well ridden by Alice's son, Alex, who will be enjoying another big moment in two months' time when he gets married to Harriet West.

And the Maiden Race went to another cheap purchase, Virgo The First, acquired for just £700 from the Irish agent, Colman Hennessy. Virgo The First is owned and trained at Sutton, near Ely, by Martin Ward and looks to have a promising future given the way he swept past the perennial bridesmaid, Mister Serious, to get off the mark.

Virgo The First was completing a rapid double for jockey Archie Wright, from Badlingham, near Newmarket, who had also taken the previous contest, the Intermediate Race, aboard his father's Burtredgipandgump.

The two and a half mile PPORA Club Members Race was a helter-skelter affair, won via an attacking front-running ride from Dale Peters by the Leicestershire-trained Decade Player. Runner-up here was Master Workman, the second of an agonising three second-placed finishers on the day for the Thetford trainer, David Kemp.

Finally, the Hunt Race went for the sixth consecutive year to owner-trainer Nigel Padfield, from Abridge, near Chigwell, courtesy of the Gina Andrews-ridden Excitable Island.

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