Confusion reigned following the running of the Novice Riders Race at a superb Essex & Suffolk Point-To-Point at Higham on Saturday.
Scare Lotte, the red hot favourite, cruised home ten lengths clear of the field, but then the fun and games began. Winning rider Clare Hobson discovered that she had lost her weight cloth - it had fallen to the ground before the second last - so disqualification was inevitable as she returned to the scales many pounds under weight.
Victory was inherited by the second past the post, Rockley Beach, whose trainer-rider, Kelly Smith, from Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds, was the first person to notice Hobson’s misfortune.
“I saw Clare’s weight cloth come off just as she was quickening away and immediately realised that I didn’t need to bother about her and only needed to beat the others,” a quick-thinking Smith explained. “But then I began to fear that Clare’s saddle might come off altogether and worried about how I would avoid her if she fell.”
To further compound matters, Ben Rivett, who guided the popular 16-year-old veteran Village Copper into a fine fourth place, forgot to weigh in and was also disqualified. All of which meant that although five of the seven runners completed the course, only three were deemed to have ‘finished’.
Village Copper’s ill luck summed up the miserable season of his young trainer, Tory Hayter, whose string has been ravaged by a mystery virus since she moved to a new yard at Semer, near Hadleigh, in November.
But the sporting gods finally deigned to give her a break in the second of two Maiden Races as Siam de Baune eased clear under Tim Lane. It was a richly deserved success for Hayter, who had not saddled a single runner for six weeks while she waited for her charges to recover from the illness.
The first three events on a seven-race card brought a winner apiece for East Anglia’s three top riders of the season - Rupert Stearn, David Kemp and James Owen.
Stearn, from Wymondham, teamed up with Raydon trainer George Cooper to notch his sixth success of the campaign aboard Alittlemoreaction in the Hunts Club Members Race.
Then trainer-jockey Kemp, from Kilverstone, near Thetford, added to the Towcester Hunter Chase triumph he had achieved last Wednesday with Rydal Park, when Took My Eye skipped clear in the closing stages of the Restricted Race to give owner Barry Belchem, from Kelvedon, a 64 th birthday present.
Finally, and most impressive of the trio, Kadount made every yard of the running under Owen to take the Volkswagen Touareg Men’s Open for Ampton handler Joe Turner.
Owen, whose victory was later matched by his partner, Kelly Smith, used to exercise Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Looks Like Trouble, when he worked for trainer Noel Chance, hence his glowing but slightly tempered opinion of Kadount: “He’s the best horse I have ever sat on .... in a race.”
The easy Ladies’ Open win of Beet de Bob meant that his trainer, Susan Busby, has won all four Ladies’ races contested at Higham this year - despite the fact that the course is a 330-mile round trip from her Warwickshire base.
And Oxfordshire trainer Alan Hill plundered yet another East Anglian prize when Camisky, ridden by National Champion Jockey, James Tudor, took the first Maiden.