Sunday 29th January @ Higham near Colchester
12.00 Hunt Members (Vet & Novice Riders) – 9 entries
A disappointing entry for the opener here and Abbey Lane sets the standard here. He has already had 3 runs this season and backed up placed efforts at Cottenham (a sharp track like Higham) with a win at Ampton 2 weeks ago (Carlanstown in 5th). Ampton is a completely different track to Higham but his form round Cottenham should be enough to take this; it will be interesting to see who takes the ride. Santa’s Secret ran well for a long way at Cottenham in the Ladies Open, he pulled hard and if settling a bit better he should give Kate Gowing a good ride in what should be a lesser race. Garstin is one of two possibles from the John Whyte yard, and could be a nice new horse for the yard. He has form in some hot West Country races last year but might need his first run of the season so may be best watched. Carlanstown is now 13 and in his prime he might have gone close but he might face too tall a challenge to reverse the form with Abbey Lane from Ampton. With the Andrew Pennock yard in such good form it is hard to look beyond Abbey Lane.
Selection: Abbey Lane Alternative: Santa’s Secret
12.30 PPORA Club Members – 23 entries
Three horses in this race are rated at over 100. Master Workman is the highest rated at 107 and would appear to be the favourite here. Has won five races in the pointing field, was a course winner in a Restricted in 2013, beat Galros Lady at Fakenham last April and has won a Hunter Chase. Colonel Iain is rated at 106 and although missing 2016 has won four of its six outings, will surely be vying for favouritism. Never Complain, rated at 101, is more difficult to access. Has raced five times in points and has finished 2nd on four occasions but these have all been in small fields and was 3rd in the Men’s Open at the corresponding meeting last season. Jet Nova has had three wins from thirteen outings, all in 2015, disappointed in 2016 but is from a good yard and hopefully they will be able to have sweetened him up for this season. Mister Bricolage won two moderate races in Wales in 2015 and has nine further outings since without much success. However is now in the Nick Wright’s yard so further improvement maybe expected? Mr Raj also had a good 2015 winning its maiden at Horseheath. Started 2016 moderately but progressed to win a Restricted and Intermediate both at Kingston Blount, looks a progressive type. Susquehanna River gave connections an excellent season last year. Won a 10 runner race at Fakenham, was 2nd three times and 3rd in the PPORA Novice Riders Championship race at Garthorpe to Real Milan. Treaceyswestcounty, a front runner, made all at Barbury in early December 2016 to win an Intermediate race and then followed up at Cottenham on New Year’s Eve to be 6 lengths 2nd the Porlock Bay. Inspite of having Jack Andrews on board there are probably a few in this race who could get the upper hand. Overall this should be a decent race to liven up the day.
Selection: Master Workman Alternative: Colonel Iain/ Mister Bricolage.
1.05 Mens Open – 8 entries
It is impossible to look beyond Broken Eagle following his victory at Cottenham on New Year’s eve, where he won in a hack canter by 25 lengths from It Was Me in a course record. Broken Eagle clearly likes a flat track as he also romped to victory in 4 points around Cottenham and Higham last season. Brackloon High has won the men’s open at Higham at the end of January for the last two years, coming from well off the pace two years ago, whilst last year he was more prominent. He started the season at Larkhill earlier this month finishing 4th to Ask The Weatherman, and is likely to be seen at his best on his next couple of outings. Lauberhorn finished a fair 3rd to Arkose in the mixed open at Ampton two weeks ago. Lauberhorn ran up a sequence of four consecutive wins in ladies opens back in 2014, and would have made it six in a row if he hadn’t unseated his rider at the last when clear. He was twice a victor in 2015, and last season managed to gain a single victory. Off The Ground led for a long way before pulling up in a men’s open at Larkhill in December, whilst Green Bank unseated his rider at the 4th fence in a club member’s race at Barbury Castle the same month. Both In Fairness and Good Order were thrashed by Broken Eagle around Higham last season, but In Fairness turned in a much improved performance in a hunter chase in May, on his fourth outing, when he finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Man Of Steel at Fakenham.
Selection: Broken Eagle Alternative: Brackloon High
1.40 Ladies Open – 16 entries
A good entry and with not much between the top three this should be a cracking race.Top Smart won all three of his pointing starts last season including one here when he stayed on well to beat Sharp Suit by 2 lengths. His other wins came at Garthorpe and at Kingston Blount where he beat the much fancied Dabinett Moon. If he can repeat that form then he has every chance. Five-time course winner Start Royal has developed a case of seconditis finishing in that position in 5 of his last 6 starts. Just beaten by Sobre Tresor at Wadebridge on his only start this season he should be spot on in terms of fitness and intriguingly he was the last horse to beat Top Smart though that was back in 2015. Popaway disappointed when pulling up here last season but went on to win a mares’ Hunter Chase at Cheltenham and finish a close 2nd to Penmore Mill in the Ladies’ PtP Championship Final at Stratford. She unseated at Taunton earlier this month but we would expect her to be right there. There are plenty who showed good form last season who could pick up the pieces if the top three falter: Hill of Gold placed 2nd and 4th in Restricteds here and then showed improved form when winning a modest Hunter Chase at Huntingdon; the consistent Sa Kaldoun won a Ladies’ here in April but found Sharp Suit too strong at Whitfield; Conkies Lad picked up wins at Charing and Penshurst but struggled here and unseated on his last two starts and now has something to prove; Probably George put in some good runs towards the end of last season and it will be interesting to see how he goes for new connections. Lauberhorn ran well when 3rd in the Timico Mixed Open at Ampton two weeks ago. Green Bank won two chases and a hurdles for Charlie Longsdon but unseated at Barbury after a long break and is perhaps best watched. The rest only have chances if the race cuts up. Its always difficult to oppose Alan Hill’s horses in points especially multiple course winners like Start Royal but if Top Smart can repeat last season’s form then he should take this though Popaway will be right there too.
Selection: Top Smart Alternative: Start Royal
2.15 Open Maiden – 16 entries
A number of those entered today have already gone into the notebook and none more so than Le Fou Royal, a close third in a 2m4f maiden at Cottenham last month. Providing he can handle the sharp Higham track he is sure to be there or thereabouts at the finish. Alitlebitless, ridden by the excellent Hugh Nugent, also finished third at Cottenham but on this occasion it was a full distance maiden. Our only reservation here is that this one has been given plenty of opportunity but has yet to get his head in front. Brogheen Boy was running a blinder in the same race until a heavy fall 5 from home. Clearly enjoying front running, a benefit at Higham, caution should be exercised as the horse’s confidence may have been dented by the fall but if in the same form as at Cottenham and jumping a clear round must surely be in contention. The all conquering Ellis/Andrews partnership has Ginuwinefizz entered and after a relatively gentle introduction last season should be prominent in the race today. Kev The Car has featured prominently in both his races this season but may just lack the finishing pace that will be needed to win this maiden – his day however will surely come. Martin Ward has two entered and we will be keeping an eye on Muchadoboutnothing who performed well in Irish points whenever in the hands of leading rider JJ Codd. Could this be another Virgo? Finally we will mention Sunglasses Ron who often sees to be there or thereabouts but never quite gets his head in front. Front runners often seem to do well at Higham and with that in mind we will select Brogheen Boy to fulfil his potential with Le Fou Royal to follow him home.
Selection: Brogheen Boy Alternative: Le Fou Royal
2.50 Restricted –13 entries
Another very average 13 entries. Condorman was 25l. back and awell beaten 2nd at this meeting last season but was only beaten 2L. by Hill of Gold here at the later April meeting so may improve again. Glory Hunter won his Maiden at this meeting in 2015 but has struggled in Restricted company since and was beaten 13L by Pride of Parish at recent Ampton meeting. Leafy Arbour is another to struggle in Restricteds following his Maiden win at Charing in 2013 but had an impressive 9 runs last season. Irish Maiden winner (cosily) in May, 5yr Mere Detail runs with a 14lb. allowance and came a 14L 3rd in the Dec. Cottenham meeting, she will have come on from this run and could make the frame here. More Tricks won her Maiden at Dingley in March staying on well and followed with place runs in Restricteds in April and May but on soft ground so will not be suited by the ground here. 6yr Mr Maclennane from Nick Wright’s yard won his Maiden at Cottenham in Dec staying on well and the track and ground should suit. Nandini with a 7lb allowance from the Kemp yard was second in Div.2 of the Maiden at this meeting last season on good ground and then followed a series of pu’s but won the Kingston Blount Maiden in May fast ground with Rupert Stearn up and the ground and track should suit again for a frame finish. Pride of Parish from the successful Hill yard will probably go of as justified favourite having comfortably won the Kimble Maiden in March and was a close2nd to Farradon Xmoor in the recent Ampton Restricted. Scorpion Star from the Pennock yard will be another close fav with 2 place runs at this seasons Cottenham meetings on fast ground, although his last run was slowhe beata weakening Wonderful Present who fell 3 out. Another Pennock runner with chances is Torran Na Dtonn winning his Maiden here in April followed by 2 place runs in Restricted again on fast ground.
Selection: Pride of Parish Alternative: either of the Pennock runners