Stratford's seven race programme of hunter chases is eagerly awaited by the sport, not least for the last of the three marquee Foxhunter chases and the most valuable programme of hunter chases in the UK calendar. And Friday evening's fixture didn't disappoint for East Anglian handlers, of which two took home a trophy.
Norfolk farmer David Kemp is not one to ignore when he runs a horse in a high quality contest and Law of Gold proved that point, returning to the course where two years ago, he secured the John Corbett Cup to prove himself among the top novice horses of his generation. This time around, he looked assured in beating Bob And Co and Moonbeg Chitchat in the Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunter by 5 1/2l.
Sudbury based Ruth Pennock won her first race under Rules at the fifth attempt when The Bonny Boy reversed last month's neck second with Tekap in the Print Concern Restricted Series Final. This was simply the race of the evening - two evenly matched horses and riders racing neck and neck to the line in a scintillating finish to warm the heart. The cheers and shrieks that greeted Alice Stephens afterwards might have been for a movie or rock star, echoing around a Stratford enjoying a decent crowd for the first time in nearly 2 years. The Bonny Boy had to survive an enquiry before collecting the silverware, when the two combatants got very close in the final 150 yards.
Of the other two major prizes on this terrific night's racing, one headed to Ulster, the other to the West Country. David Christie, who trains in Fermanagh, wasn't frightened off by the reputations of the two leading British novices in the point-to-point.co.uk Champion Novices Hunters Chase for the John Corbett Cup. Both Premier Magic, trained and ridden by Bradley Gibbs, and Fakir d'Oudairies, from the Tom Ellis stable, have earned themselves a strong following with hunter chase wins in the period when professional riders displaced amateurs before March 29th's restart.
Neither had the stamina to out jump and out run Vaucelet, brought over specially by David Christie from his stables at Derrylin in Fermanagh. The 10 hour journey via Stranraer was worthwhile however, as Vaucelet ran out a 2 3/4l winner. Christie is the trainer of over 300 Pointing winners in Ireland, and set off the same evening to be back to saddle Saturday's runners himself. Oh, the joys of training!
In the other feature, the fifth running of the Skinner's Ladies Open Final, the leading Point-to-Point yard of Tom Ellis secured a scalp with the progressive Deans Road, under Gina Andrews.
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