Sunday 19th February @ Higham, near Colchester
North Norfolk Harriers
12.30 Open Maiden– 16 entries
With ALittlebitlessbeing the highest rated after finishing a poor fourth in the Open Maiden at Cottenham last weekend, favourite backers may struggle to find a true “cert”. We might have to look to southern raider Nick Pearce for the winner; Florabell ran encouragingly last season when 2nd in a 2m 4f maiden at Charing. This has been her only race to date and one must imagine she’s had a few problems so the question is has Pearce got her straight – we expect so! His other runner Roll of the Dice came 4th in a Barbary Bumper late last year but it remains to be seen if he can jump. Top trainer Gerald Bailey has entered an Irish Maiden The Glover. His form to date is hardly mouth watering but Bailey can spot potential and he is bound to be well schooled. Likewise Andrew Pennock’s entrant Royal Chieftain has also run between the flags in Ireland without much glory but his 5th in a 16-runner maiden last April was creditable. The Buckle’s have three entered of which On the Tangle is probably the most reliable. However he is 9 years old and despite five tries is still a Maiden so whatever happens on Sunday he’s not going to set the world on fire. Of their other two, Infinity and Beyond had ALittlebitless behind him when coming 4th here at Higham, just behind last week’s Cottenham winner Intercooler Turbo. This was a good performance and with experience from running under rules could do well. At first glance this is a weak race but there may be a couple of runners nestling under the radar who will shine through. On balance, if Nick Pearce chooses to come to Higham rather than run at his local course of Charing that in itself might be a pointer. Of his two runners we like the look of Florabell but our selection is the Andrew Pennock trained Royal Chieftain based on its last run in Ireland, which looked pretty useful.
Selection: Royal Chieftain Alternative: Florabell
1.05 PPORA Club Members (Novice Riders) – 9 entries
Normally in this class of race there are a good number of entries, unfortunately not today with only 9 but let’s hope that we see most participating. Abbey Road should start as favourite as it’s won his last two races, a Novice Riders race at here at the last meeting and a Club Members race at Ampton in mid-January. Possibly it’s best performance was 3rd to Porlock Bay at Cottenham but previously 2nd to Lough Inch at the first Cottenham meeting was also impressive. Billie Magern was 3rd in the race where Abbey Road was 2nd and we would not expect the form to alter here. My Dad’s Horse is very experienced having fifteen starts in points and has shown some form, has won four points in his career including winning a Novice Riders race at Dingley last season. Last time out was 4th at Thorpe Lodge in late January. Santa’s Secret was with Oliver Sherwood and did win a two mile chase at Southall last February but next time out jumped badly and finished last out of eight. Has had one outing this year at Cottenham in November in a Ladies Open race where ran well for a circuit and a half but then faded from the farmyard fence and finished 4th out of five runners. Only question is will he get three miles even on this easy course. Frankie Anson, formally with the Turners and which gave Ed Turner some good fun winning a few races, is a very experienced campaigner but is unlikely to win here.
Selection: Abbey Road Alternative: My Dad’s Horse.
1.40 Restricted – 7 entries
7 - a really poor entry and the lowest entry number for a Restricted this season. Beat The Index pu on his last 5 runs so can probably be discounted hopefully he will finish on this track. With only 2 runs in the 2014/ 15 season and off the track since then Bubbles Classic is another to discount. 6 runs for Condorman in 2016 with a 2nd onhis opening run but was a long way back 4th at Higham in Jan, then with Gina Andrews up again he ran well to be beaten 3L by the progressive Pride of Parish at Cottenham last weekend – will he run so soon? Master Ally was an impressive 8L maiden winner in April 2015 at Lydstep and then went hurdling with mixed fortunes his last 2 runs in Sept & Nov were 2/12 in a 3ml Class 5 at Bangor followed by 10/14 in a 2.5ml Class 4 at Ffos Las - maybe he can find his 2015 Maiden chasing form. With a 14lb allowance the improving Mere Detail has to be considered following a cosy win in a Mares Maiden in Ireland in May and then ran a 14L 3rd behind Extreme Appeal in Dec and improved to a 6L 2nd to the Pennock runner on this track last month and a frame finish is probable. This weekend’s Pennock runner is Scorpion Star who fell at the 3rd last on this track in Jan with every chance and following 2 places at the Cottenham Nov/Dec meetings – will probably run as fav and provided he stays he will be the one to beat. 11 yr. Weather Warning ran an impressive 9 times last season inc a 19L 3rd to Court Red Handed in a 9yr and up Conditions race at Ampton in Jan. but his overall form is not impressive so probably not one to trouble the judge.
Selection: Scorpion Star Alternative: Mere Detail
2.15 Mens Open – 9 entries
Broken Eagle has been the horse to dominate the previews for the meetings at Higham last month and Cottenham last week. On neither occasion did he appear, but his New Year’s Eve demolition of the opposition makes him difficult to oppose. Brackloon High has won the men’s open at Higham at the end of January for the last two years, and has also won at Cottenham twice, showing that he too has a preference for a flat track. Both of his outings so far this year have been at Larkhill, where on his most recent run he finished 2nd, 15 lengths behind Ceasar Milan.
I Wonder Why has yet to run for his connections, having been purchased back in 2015 after winning three points in Ireland, as well as being placed on two further occasions. Off the track all last year, he is worth checking out in the parade ring, with an eye to the future.
Hi Vic, successful under rules for David Loder, failed to finish on his last 3 runs of last season. All of his runs have been on ground no faster than good, therefore it will be a surprise if he could win on such a well-drained course.
Valid Point has a similar profile to Hi Vic, in that he failed to finish on three of his last four runs, and was also successful in late 2015. His national hunt winning form has been around Towcester (4 times) and Leicester (twice), whilst on the flat, back in 2009, he had the distinction of winning 5 consecutive races inside a month for Sir Mark Prescott. A run at Thorpe Lodge two weeks ago was a non-event as he unseated his rider at the first fence.
Selection: Broken Eagle Alternative: Brackloon High
2.50 Ladies Open – 8 entries
A modest entry and there are question marks against most of them. Green Bank won two chases and a hurdles race whilst with Charlie Longsdon and arguably showed the best form of these this season when winning a three runner Men’s at the last meeting here. However, his closest competitor fell and his winning time was 20 seconds slower than the Ladies’ on the same card so it’s not clear how good that form really is. Quinsman was 15l 2nd behind Start Royal in that Ladies’ race. Sa Kadoun beat Quinsman when they met here last April and again at Whitfield a few weeks later though he was receiving 7lbs on both occasions. They meet on equal terms this time. Sa Kaldoun was well behind when pulled up at Cottenham last weekend but should come on for the run. Santa’s Secret showed some decent form whilst with Oliver Sherwood but could only finish a disappointing 4th of 5 at the November Cottenham meeting on his only point start. He should do better than that here but is perhaps best watched. Kriss William was 15l 2nd to Viking Ridge in a Members’ Conditions here last season but is well-exposed and has plenty to find. Stage Acclaim was well behind and tailed off in the Cottenham Ladies’ last weekend. Caulkin put in a decent run to finish 2nd to Abbey Lane in the Veteran and Novice Riders at the last meeting here but was subsequently disqualified. Coral Point finished a distant 3rd behind Mr Raj in the Members’ at the same meeting.
Selection: Green Bank Alternative: Sa Kaldoun
3.25 CA Club Members Conditions – 13 entries
A paltry entry of just 13 for this closing contest. Mr Raj won at the previous meeting here when beating Mister Bricolage by 2 lengths with Coral Point a further 15 lengths back in 3rd. Black Glen Boy was leading in this race until falling two out. The Andrew Pennock trained Black Glen Boy is a previous course winner having landed a restricted here in April 2015 when accounting for Teeiygee by 6 lengths. Coral Point is another previous course winner but that win was back in April 2010 when he beat The Nun’s Legacy by 15 lengths in a restricted contest. He ran well until fading 3 out on his seasonal debut and with that run under his belt could finish nearer to Mr Raj today. Alan Hill is a trainer with an excellent strike rate at this venue and he runs Horizontal Speed. He was 2nd on his seasonal reappearance when going down by ¾ of a length to Thereyarsee at Larkhill last month and is a two time scorer under rules. Merrydown Vintage was a winner on his final start last season when beating Leafy Arbour at Kingston Blount by 20 lengths having previously been 2nd in a hunter chase at Huntingdon when beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Hill Of Gold with Coral Point just over 14 lengths away in 5th in May 2016. Shakalakaboomboom is now well in to the veteran stage but is a four time winner under rules when trained by Nicky Henderson. He has won one point when successful in a Whitfield club members in May 2016 when beating The Admiral Benbow by 2 lengths. He unseated early on his seasonal debut at Larkhill last month and may be run off his feet here today by younger rivals. An interesting runner is Dream Doc, a two time winner in Ireland. Her final win gained at Dromahane was by 10 lengths from Scamaill Liath in May 2016 and must have a strong chance if fully wound up on her UK debut. I Wonder Why is a three time winner in Ireland, his last win coming at Stradbally in April 2015 when he beat Done En Dusted by a head but he hasn’t run since, however he hails from Gerald Bailey’s yard so must enter the reckoning in this race. A tricky contest to nail down as several of these hold alternative engagements, either in earlier races here or other venues over the weekend. We will take Mr Raj to follow up his win here last month as our main selection and go with Merrydown Vintage as our alternative just ahead of Horizontal Speed.
Selection: Mr Raj Alternative: Merrydown Vintage