Thrills and spills in the gloom

James CrispeA marathon Cambridge University Draghounds meeting at Cottenham lasted four-and-a-half hours and nine races. Fortunately, the quality of the sport on offer was much better than the weather - visibility varied from gloomy to grotesque and spectactors needed thermal clothing as well as sharp eyes.James Crispe

A marathon Cambridge University Draghounds meeting at Cottenham lasted four-and-a-half hours and nine races. Fortunately, the quality of the sport on offer was much better than the weather - visibility varied from gloomy to grotesque and spectactors needed thermal clothing as well as sharp eyes.

The racing did its best to warm up the crowd with thrills and spills aplenty. No contest was more exciting than the first, where the headstrong Sirius Storm saw his big early lead evaporate, then battled back past Duke Of Stradone at the final fence, only to wander badly on the run-in and get caught by the same rival in the the last few strides.

Trained near Bishop's Stortford by Lauren Michelli and well ridden by her boyfriend, Andrew Braithwaite, Duke of Stradone has been seeing out his races much better since he was equipped with a tongue tie.

The only other East Anglian victory on a card dominated by visitors from outside the region was Fousltons Ruler, trained at Raydon, near Hadleigh, by George Cooper and a chance ride for Alex Vaughan-Jones, from Wells next the Sea.


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His regular partner, Rupert Stearn, was in attendance but still recovering from a broken collar bone sustained at Higham two weeks ago.

Off the course since suffering a leg injury in a fall at this venue last March, Foulstons Ruler came home eight lengths clear of Jonlahy in the second division of the older horse Maiden.

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Cooper, who also bred the winner, used to ride against Vaughan-Jones's father, Ollie, and remembers benefitting from a similar situation 25 years ago when Vaughan-Jones senior was convalescing following a broken pelvis and passed on to Cooper the winning ride on General Rule at Marks Tey.

"He's finally paid back that debt today," Ollie quipped, after watching his son emerge triumphant from the murk.

Mad Jack Duncan, trained in Berkshire by Alan Hill, gained compensation for his narrow defeat at the previous Cottenham meeting when lifting the other older horse Maiden.

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