The 12 planned fixtures for the East Anglian Point-to-Point Area abridged to 11 with the abandonment of our own fixture at Northaw, but the mild and dry winter meant a full programme of the other fixtures starting at Higham in November.
The loss of Cottenham resulted in consolidation of the race programme around Higham and Horseheath, which between them staged 50% of the fixtures.
The season started inconspicuously with a Higham card on Good to Firm ground that attracted just 14 runners. It's difficult to put a brave face on that sort of turnout.
However, matters improved over the Christmas break when the programme resumed at Horseheath, punctuated by the Area's leading trainer, David Kemp, winning two of the seven programmed races with Rebel Dawn Rising and How To Get Away.
Nine days later, one of the season's multiple winners graced the Ampton turf, when Precious Bounty , already winning his third race of the season, was a 6l winner for owner Joanne Callwood and Tom Ellis.
It was back to Horseheath at the end of January, where How To Get Away won the Intermediate for David Kemp, whilst trainers from outside the Area cleaned up in the other races.
Kemp however kept the home fires burning at Horseheath 3 weeks later for the Puckeridge fixture, with a double courtesy of How To Get Away and rebel Dawn Rising. The eight year old followed up in a hunter chase at Leicester on March 1, beating the Tom Ellis - trained Benefaktor by 3/4l in a 5 runner field.
Kemp kept up the good work with Stick With It, a winning maiden at Fakenham's point-to-point fixture in early April, whilst stable star Law of Gold, notched a hunter chase at prestigious Ascot the previous week.
The Kemp stable went mob-handed to Cheltenham's Hunters' evening with four runners, where Caryto des Brosses was a 6l runner-up to dandy Dan in the Ineos Grenadier Final, and Law of Gold a neck second to Coup de Pinceau for Syd Hosie.
April concluded however with a double at Garthorpe on April 30 with Clara Sorrento and Ballinagore, before Law of Gold was again outpointed at Stratford by the previous season's John Corbett winner Vaucelet, by 4l in the Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunter.
David Kemp's seasonal record stands at 11 winners from 31, an outstanding record, but it sits against a weakening number of horses trained within East Anglia, and he is currently a rare beacon of excellence among a diminishing support group. There's no danger presently of East Anglian trainers or riders challenging for the leading honours, won by Tom Ellis as leading trainer, and James King and Gina Andrews, leading gentleman and lady riders respectively.
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