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Cambridge University United Hunts Club at Cottenham
Sunday 29th November 2015
by James Crispe

Veteran jockey Angela Rucker and her mount Sagalyrique made up for the absence of Victoria Pendleton by landing a thrilling Ladies Open Race for the fourth year in a row at the Cambridge University United Hunts Club Point-To-Point at Cottenham, near Cambridge, on Sunday.

With Pendleton choosing to make her steeplechasing debut in Devon instead (where she pulled up her solitary ride), the vastly more experienced Rucker, from Droitwich in Worcestershire, conjured an incredible late burst from Sagalyrique to overhaul the hot favourite, Penmore Mill, close to the line and score by a neck.

Sagalyrique looked well beaten when Penmore Mill, a five-time hunter chase winner, powered into a five-length advantage rounding the final bend. But a brilliant jump at the final fence put him back in with a chance and he dug deep into his reserves of stamina to snatch the prize in the last few strides.

The best that East Anglian competitors could manage on a top quality afternoon of racing was a pair of second places although one East Anglian beneficiary of the day's proceedings was Patrick Peal, Chief Executive of The East Anglian Air Ambulance, who collected a cheque for £1,000 from the proceeds of the two fixtures that Cottenham staged during the 2014-2015 season.

Much like Penmore Mill in the previous race, Sin Bin, representing Wymondham trainer Sandra Fryer, seemed to have the Subaru Restricted Race in the bag when scooting into a clear lead after the second last fence.

But he then had no answer to the renewed effort of the front-running Tulsa and eventually only just held on for second place in front of Nashville Tommy.

Tulsa's triumph completed a superb double for his trainer, Leicestershire-based Tommy Morgan, and jockey, Sam Davies-Thomas, as earlier they had teamed up to land the first race of the 2015-16 season, the two and a half mile PPORA Club Race, with Lough Inch.

This fast-improving eight-year-old also adopted trailblazing tactics yet looked a sitting duck for the favourite, Storm Lantern, ridden by the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen, at the penultimate obstacle. But Lough Inch proved impossible to pass, storming up the run-in to register a three length victory.

The other East Anglian near-miss came in the closing two and a half mile Maiden courtesy of Rupert Wells, trained at Timworth Green, near Bury St Edmunds, by Andrew Pennock.

He found just one too good for him in the shape of a raider from East Sussex, Daidaidai, who was a relatively unfancied 10-1 chance and paid out at an incredible 50-1 on the Tote.

The bookies may have been happy with that result, but they were smarting following the preceding Maiden when Lilbitluso, a visitor from Cheshire who had been gambled on from 6-1 down to even money favourite in some places, won by half the length of the home straight.

The best calibre race of the day was the Mens Open in which Consigliere, trained in Oxfordshire by Alan Hill and ridden by his son, Joe, did not need to be hard ridden to register an easy ten-length victory over Executive Benefit.

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