Compelling duel in Men’s Open Race at Puckeridge point-to-point
- Credit: Archant
It sometimes takes only two protagonists to make a brilliant horse race, as was demonstrated at the Puckeridge point-to-point at Horseheath, near Haverhill, on Saturday as Curraigflemens and Ardkilly Witness fought out a compelling duel in the Men’s Open Race.
There were, in fact, two other runners in this contest, but they were really never involved as Curraigflemens and Ardkilly Witness duked it out for the lead right from the word go.
Trained at Kilverstone, near Thetford, by David Kemp, Curraigflemens had run very disappointingly at High Easter just seven days earlier, hence he had a new jockey aboard (Dickie Collinson) and was equipped with sheepskin cheekpieces for the first time.
These changes seemed to make a big difference as Collinson, from Sutton, near Ely, inspired a superb round of jumping from his mount, the partnership regularly gaining half a length or more over his less fluent opponent.
An 18th and final fine leap seemed to have sealed the deal as Curraigflemens set off up the run-in three lengths clear. But Ardkilly Witness dug deep to summon up a flying finish and the pair flashed past the winning post together, with the judge ruling in Curraigflemens’s favour by the minimum margin of a ‘short head’.
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This victory completed a double for the Kemp team as earlier Welsh’s Castle had held off the course specialist, Ignite A Light, to land the Conditions Race.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon came in the Maiden Race as the outsider, Rollingontheriver, who had failed to make the first three in his five previous starts, responded well to a positive ride from Wymondham’s Rupert Stearn to come home six lengths clear.
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Trained in Newmarket by James Owen, Rollingontheriver is owned by Stearn’s father, Simon, who does so much for the sport through his role as Clerk of Ampton Racecourse.
Trainer Andrew Pennock, from Timworth near Bury St Edmunds, was left dreaming of Cheltenham victory after Mahler’s Spirit qualified for a hunter chase there on May 4 by landing the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Race.
Ridden by Evan David, Mahler’s Spirit was rarely troubled in landing an easy 15 length success and Pennock rates him as one of the best horses he has ever had in his yard.
Sa Kaldoun, trained just a mile or so from Pennock’s stable at Ampton by Ed Turner, put up a fine display of front-running in the Ladies Open but was still unable to deny the Northamptonshire-trained Top Smart a seventh victory in his last eight starts.
The meeting concluded with Kashmir Peak, whose trainer, Nick Pearce, last summer moved from Sussex to Warwickshire, scoring a bloodless triumph in the Novice Riders Race.
GOING: GOOD TO SOFT, SOFT IN PLACES
1st Welsh’s Castle Dale Peters 4/5f 2nd Virgo The First Archie Wright 8/1 3rd Ignite A Light Alex Vaughan Jones 5/2
Time 6-40 Dists: Nk Dist 6 ran also Legend To Be 5th Road To Freedom PU Total Compliance 4th
1st Rollingontheriver Rupert Stearn 8/1 2nd Holy Street Gina Andrews 2/1f 3rd Age Of Heroes Dicky Collinson 5/2
Time 6-43 Dists: 6L 2L 7 ran also Beggars Bush 5th Late To The Party PU Law Of Gold F Master Jeweller 4th
1st Top Smart Gina Andrews 4/9f 2nd Sa Kaldoun Rosie Turner 4/1 3rd Oh Toodles Immy Robinson 2/1
Time 6-43 Dists: 1 1/2L 12L 3 ran
1st Curraigflemens Dicky Collinson 2/1 2nd Ardkilly Witness Will Thirlby 11/10f
Time 6-36 Dists: S hd 4 ran also Counting Stars PU Pair Of Jacks PU
1st Mahlers Spirit Evan David 2/5f 2nd Dream Doc Gina Andrews 3/1
Time 6-50 Dists: 15L 3 ran also Seamusjay PU
1st Kashmir Peak Nikki Stubbs 4/5f 2nd Finnegans Hollow Hector Barr 5/4 3rd Garstin Seb Burnett Wells 5/1
Time 6-33 Dists: Dist Dist 5 ran also Penelope Pips PU Zagmeister UR