Free Press trainers were the big winners at the Puckeridge Point-to-Point at Horseheath on Saturday, with four of the six races secured by stables within the Bury St Edmunds area.
And there was plenty of action to keep spectators gripped with the going good to soft.
It sometimes only takes two protagonists to make a brilliant horse race, and that’s what was served up in the Men’s Open Race as Curraigflemens and Ardkilly Witness fought it out.
There were, in fact, two other runners in the contest, but they were really never involved as Curraigflemens and Ardkilly Witness battled 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 having new jockey Dickie Collinson aboard and 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’.
This victory completed a double for the Kemp team as, earlier, Welsh’s Castle had held off course specialist Ignite A Light to land the Conditions Race.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon, though, came in the Maiden Race as outsider Rollingontheriver — who had failed to make the top three in his five previous starts — responded well to a positive ride from Wymondham’s Rupert Stearn to come home six lengths clear.
Trained in Newmarket by James Owen, Rollingontheriver is owned by Stearn’s father, Simon, who does a lot for the sport through his role as clerk of Ampton Racecourse.
Timworth trainer Andrew Pennock, meanwhile, 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 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 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.