Plenty of exciting racing at Horseheath despite the chilly conditions

Point to Point racing at Horseheath.

Point to Point racing at Horseheath. - Credit: Archant

A superb Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace Point-To-Point at Horseheath, near Haverhill on Sunday saw no less than 83 horses take part in seven steeplechases, quality racing and tight finishes providing more than enough to warm up a decent-sized crowd on a distinctly chilly day, writes James Crispe.

The undoubted star of the afternoon was the Mens Open Race hero, Hazel Hill, who ventured down from Phil Rowley’s yard in Shropshire to take his record since moving across from Ireland in 2014 to a perfect ten wins from tens starts.

Despite giving a 7lb weight penalty to the gallant runner-up, Ardkilly Witness, Hazel Hill was not subjected to a hard race in scoring by three lengths. His next target is a Novice Hunter Chase at Leicester and, given that he was not fully race fit for this first start of a new campaign, he looks like he could hold his own in much better company.

The Ladies Open Race had a thrilling denouement as Blue Mountain Boy responded to the urgings of National Champion Lady rider Gina Andrews to surge into the lead in the last few yards and beat the favourite, Goodnight Vienna, by three-quarters of a length.

Clearly none the worse for having been brought down mid race at Higham just seven days earlier, this was just a fourth race completion in the career of this highly promising six-year-old, who is trained in Warwickshire by Gina’s husband, Tom Ellis.

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The Ellis/Andrews combination should really have scored again in the following Restricted Race but Gina was left clinging to the neck of her mount, Kalabaloo, after a catastrophic blunder at the third fence – the open ditch.

She somehow hauled herself back into the saddle and then gave Kalabaloo time to recover before she launched another late challenge which saw the partnership finish a close third, just a length behind the winner, Welsh’s Castle.

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Although Welsh’s Castle might therefore be considered a trifle fortunate, his Thetford-based trainer, David Kemp, was quick to point out afterwards that his charge was quite badly in need of the race for this, his seasonal debut, and should come on a bundle for the run.

The other East Anglian success on the card was provided by Mr Maclennane, who responded well to the application of sheepskin cheekpieces and then survived a shuddering final fence blunder to beat Allie Beag by a length.

Winning trainer Nick Wright, from Badlingham near Newmarket, credited his head lass, Jo Brisland, for coming up with the idea of trying headgear, while Nick’s son, the winning jockey, Archie Wright, said that Mr Maclennane was much better suited by this galloping track rather than the tight turns of Ampton, where he had disappointed on his previous start.

A 16-runner cavalry charge for the Novice Riders Race resulted in a surprise 16-1 success for Bayley’s Dream, who held on by a fast-diminishing half-length to deny the hot favourite, Just Cause. Insodoing he clocked the fastest time of the day for the father and son trainer-jockey combination of John and Billy Aprahamian, from Blakesley in Northamptonshire.

Another Northants-based handler, Jamie Goss, was on the mark when Tricky Silence went one better than at Cottenham on New Year’s Eve to land the Young Horse Maiden by just a neck from Staple Head while the Older Horse Maiden went to Keel Over, a horse that has been at the Buckinghamshire yard of Michael Kehoe for barely three weeks after starting his career in Ireland.

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