GALLERY & REPORT: Jockey James Ferguson enjoys double at Marks Tey point-to-point
- Credit: Archant
Jockey James Ferguson warmed up for his first crack at Aintree’s fearsome Grand National fences on Thursday with a pair of victories at the East Anglian Area Hunts Club meeting at Marks Tey on Saturday.
First he guided Elvis The King to a ten length defeat of Evening Echo in an EAAC Club Members Conditions Race, then he kicked The Rodeo Clown clear with a mile to run in Essex’s own equivalent of the Grand National and held off the late charge of the favourite, Ide No Idea, by a length and a half.
Ferguson, from Cowlinge, near Newmarket, will take part in the Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase aboard Earth Dream – the horse he was set to ride at Aintree a year ago only for him to find out while in the jockey’s changing room just minutes before the race that his mount had gone lame.
Both Elvis The King and The Rodeo Clown are trained by Ferguson’s father, John, who was unsurprisingly absent in Dubai where he was overseeing the Dubai World Cup victory of African Story, owned and bred by his boss, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum.
The pair were also both sporting new headgear for the first time – in Elvis The King’s case it was a hood while The Rodeo Clown reacted well to the application of sheepskin cheek pieces.
The double took Ferguson junior’s total for the season to seven winners, momentarily just one behind the reigning East Anglian Men’s Champion, Ben Rivett, in the race for this year’s title.
But Rivett, from Sharrington in Norfolk, was quick to respond, making every yard of the running aboard Mizen Mix in another EAAC Club Members Conditions Race to re-establish a lead of two.
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Mizen Mix was a personal best 11th winner of the campaign for the Timworth Green, near Bury St Edmunds, trainer, Andrew Pennock. And, just like Ferguson in the Essex National, the victory owed plenty to a fine riding display as Mizen Miz pulled exceptionally hard and had to be nursed home to a two-length score.
Midnight Ruler, who is trainer, owned and was bred by George Cooper, from Raydon, near Hadleigh, landed the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares Race on her first public appearance in more than two years.
Her jockey was a relieved Rupert Stearn, from Wymondham, a three-time East Anglian Champion who was registering a long overdue initial success of the season. And the result was a trifle fortunate as Dancing Dawn would probably have won to give John Ferguson a treble but for departing at the second last.
Billy Barden, a former Newmarket resident who now lives in Hertfordshire, made a late and winning start to his riding career at the age of 28 when he guided Irish Rebel, trained by his girlfriend, Clare Hobson, to victory in the Novice Riders Race.
Gina Andrews, a much more experienced pilot, brought to an end a frustrating run of ‘seconditis’ when landing the Maiden aboard the Northants raider, Bubbles Classic, while there was another victory for that county when Bay To Go, trained by Heather Kemp, returned to form in the PPORA Race.