16 January 2012 Scene & Heard: Dunston Harriers - Ampton
by Carolyn Tanner
The last-minute decision to give Divine Intavention a Men's Open entry bore fruit at Ampton, Mark Wall's forcing tactics on the final circuit seeing his mount home ahead of the odds-on Ballyeightra Cross.
Divine Intavention, who had taken the Intermediate at the corresponding fixture 12 months earlier, shows nothing in his home work, but is a different proposition when he gets to the races. "He says ‘that's what I'm here for', and he was tripping the light fantastic when he came off the lorry," laughed Mark.
Owner Hugh Wilson, a wildlife documentary film maker, was represented by his father Guy. "I can't even get him on the phone, so he must be working," Guy smiled.
Gary Hanmer professed himself disappointed with Ballyeightra Cross, whose mistake at the penultimate put paid to his chance, and who was found to have bled from the nose. "He just wasn't his usual flamboyant self," admitted Gary, "so we'll get him checked out."
Mark completed a double when Nobby Kivambo, whose jumping was far from fluent, including when giving his rider an uncomfortable moment at the first fence where the pair had a difference of opinion, won the Restricted. "It wasn't pretty to look at but he got the job done," pointed out Mark, who had a pad under his saddle to counteract any problems from a lump which had appeared on Nobby Kivambo's back a couple of days previously. "He was definitely feeling it, though," stressed the jockey, while Gloucestershire-based owner Jason Warner, secretary of the Cotswold Vale Farmers Point-to-Point, was in no doubt that his seven-year-old was better than he showed today.
Nobby Kivambo, who was given to Jason as a two-year-old after cracking a bone in his foot, was gaining compensation for his wasted journey the previous week. He missed his intended run when his box, borrowed from his former handler Brendan Powell - "because it was faster than mine," Jason commented - broke down 30 miles short of Wadebridge. "I've used my own box today," he said. "Slow but sure!"
Jason's trip to Suffolk had taken over 3½ hours, and two jockeys, Mikey Ennis, who works for David Pipe, and Lambourn-based J D Moore, had also travelled a considerable distance for one ride apiece, both in the opening Conditions race. It was the latter who came out on top, landing the spoils with the John Ibbott-trained Kells Castle.
The grey was given to owner Jeffrey Bowles's daughter Annie, the fiancée of his former handler Gordon Elliott, after his form under Rules tailed off, and had been show-jumping and pre-novice eventing prior to being brought over to Suffolk before Christmas, since when, said John, "He's been properly hunted, which he loves. He wants top of the ground, so hopefully he'll be the only one still going when everything else has been put away! We took a chance leaving the blinkers off," he added, referring to the fact that Kells Castle had sported headgear in all bar one of his last 50 outings.
Annie was herself a very promising Point-to-Point rider in East Anglia until injury called a halt to racing over jumps, and in fact had opened her account at Ampton in 2005 on No Nay Never. She still rides out every day and also competes in charity races, scoring at both Cheltenham and Fakenham in 2010.
She had flown over from Ireland that morning in order to watch Kells Bells's debut between the flags.
J D, the son of trainer Arthur Moore, was National Novice Champion in 1998, when he was based with Robert and Sally Alner. This was only his second ride in Britain since 1999, his first having been at Barbury in December, but since then his Irish victories, both in Points and under Rules, have numbered well over 200.
He has already enjoyed success as a trainer in Ireland, and is looking to take out a British licence in the not too distant future.
Fields were generally on the small side, but there was no shortage of close finishes, most notably in the Ladies' Open, in which just a head separated Tammy Webster on her mother Angela's Sir Harry Cool and Gina Andrews on Bearneen Boy. The pair came very close together at the last, where Tammy's whip made contact with Bearneen Boy's head, but as this was obviously accidental there was no complaint from the runner-up.
Sir Harry Cool was an inexpensive Ascot purchase by Tammy's father Vic. "It made my day when I got him so cheaply, but we hadn't gone there to buy anything so I didn't have any money," he explained. "So I got him knocked down to John Funnell [father of top show-jumper William Funnell] and we paid him later!"
It was a welcome change of fortune for Tammy, 19, who had lost two horses on the course and had suffered injury herself since her race-riding debut in 2009. She works for Tom Ellis, who was in no doubt that the victory was well deserved. "If it wasn't for her we probably wouldn't be able to have the horses," he admitted. "She works really hard, and does everything while I'm out gallivanting!"
"I was down by the second-last, and I shouted at Tammy to give him a smack, then I realised I should be supporting Gina [his girlfriend] as well." Tom found himself with divided loyalties as the race reached its climax.
"We'll have to put her up on all ours now." If Tom's father Tony is to be believed, his son could be on the verge of being jocked off!
Patrick Smith had a hard act to follow, taking over on some of David Phelan's horses from Tom Cannon, but the 17-year-old continues to impress, and his Novice Riders' success on Flowersoftherarest was his third of the campaign.
"Back to school, Phelan!" commented one of the trainer's colleagues after Flowersoftherarest had to be resaddled before leaving the paddock, David having inadvertently picked up the wrong number cloth, nine instead of six.
Roi de Garde, who had followed Nobby Kivambo home at Whitfield, enjoyed a comfortable success in the Maiden under the promising Matt Stanley, who works for Chris Bealby and will shortly be getting his Category ‘B' licence.
"We've always thought a lot of him so we've brought him Pointing to get his confidence," explained Chris, who owns Roi de Garde in partnership with Michael Hill. "He's a little bit quirky, though it's mainly immaturity, and this will have done him so much good." A return to racing under Rules is on the cards after a possible Restricted run.
Chris's wife Antonia, who trains Roi de Garde, was at home with their children, who were both slightly unwell, but her chiropractic skills, said her husband, had been put to good use on her charge.
"This is my first winning mare," said David Kemp after Cheyanwe's Intermediate triumph, a surprising fact considering that his victory tally is in the nineties. It was only after riding in the opener that David decided to let Cheyanwe, who would ideally prefer softer underfoot conditions, take her chance.
Neither David, nor any of his fellow riders, had any fault to find with the going. "I've never been so fast round Ampton," he pointed out. "It's quick ground but they're bouncing off it nicely."
Cheyanwe was found by Michael Oliver for the Oak Partnership (Chris Jones, Helen Robson and Giles Sim) as a replacement for the ill-fated Rydal Park, but she was not in the best of health when she arrived from Ireland, having contracted a fever on the trip over.
David, who was quick to give credit for the mare's performance to Jimmy Down, who rides her at home, is hoping that the better facilities which are available to him this season will enable him to step up considerably on last year's disappointing campaign.