An enormous crowd assembled for the once-a-year fixture at High Easter on Saturday, which is always one of the highlights of the East Anglian season with a fantastic atmosphere in stunning surroundings, exciting racing and a big screen in addition this year to show live coverage of the point-to-point racing as well as coverage of the Grand National.
The East Anglian feature race of the season, the Warwick Vase Ladies Open, has been run since 1937 and this year the prize was taken four and a half hours back up the motorway to Yorkshire by Cherry Coward and her daughter Jacqueline – the only winner on the card from outside the area. Their 2008 Cheltenham Foxhunters winner Amicelli is now 13 years old, but he nevertheless proved far too classy for his opposition as he made all for an ultimately comfortablesuccess, although the local hat-trick seeker Maranach, from Caroline Fryer’s Wymondham yard, did look dangerous until two fences out. This was Amicelli’s fourth win in five starts this season including victory in a Wetherby Hunter Chase on his latest outing. This win moved Jacqueline Coward back into second place in the national lady rider standings.
Another bold-jumping front-runner produced an even more impressive performance in the day’s other feature event, the three mile six furlong Club Members Race. New Alco and 16 year-old Max Kendrick spread-eagled the field from halfway putting together a host of exuberant leaps on their way to victory by a distance. Having recently been acquired from Ferdy Murphy by Max’s mother Carolyn, New Alco had provided Max, a graduate of the pony racing circuit, with his first ever winner two weeks previously at Horseheath and looks an exhilarating ride. He is now trained by Murphy’s former assistant trainer Tory Hayter at the Kendrick’s yard in Assington near Sudbury.
Lauren Braithwaite, another young local female trainer on the up based in Newmarket, has an exciting prospect on her hands in the shape of the progressive five year-old Johnstown Castle who completed a hat-trick in the Intermediate Race under an inspired ride from Lauren’s husband Andrew. Despite racing lazily over the first half mile, Johnstown Castle soon warmed up and out-battled the gallant Argentato by a head.
18 year-old Bridget Andrews is enjoying her best ever season and she took her season’s tally to eight aboard Knock On The Head who scored readily in the opening Hunt Members, Subscribers And Farmers Race for owner-trainer Nigel Padfield from Abridge near Epping. The same partnership had won the race twelve months earlier with King’s Chase.
The Turner Family also got on to the scoreboard courtesy of Sud Nivernais under Louise Allan in the Restricted Race, but he was forced to pull out all the stops by Clare Hobson aboard the gallant front-running mare Flo The Machine. Ben Turner, grandson of winning owner-trainer Joe Turner confirmed that Sud Nivernais enjoys these galloping tracks and will be kept going for the remainder of the season.
Trainer-jockey David Kemp from Thetford in Norfolk was rewarded for his patience and hard work with the concluding Maiden Race winner Oxiana. The horse has suffered with terrible feet trouble and consequently has to race in stick-on shoes, but he should have plenty of progression to come now that he has registered a victory.
1) KNOCK ON THE HEAD ( Bridget Andrews) 11/10
2) Homeleigh Sir ( Ben Rivett ) Evens fav
3) The Architect ( Andrew Braithwaite )
TIME 6mins 30secs 15L, 20L 4 ran
1) SUD NIVERNAIS ( Louise Allan ) 6/1
2) Flo The Machine ( Clare Hobson ) 2/1 fav
3) Shannina ( Ben Rivett )
TIME 6:23 1/2L, Dist 8 ran
COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE CLUB MEMBERS ( 3m 6f )
1) NEW ALCO ( Max Kendrick ) 1/2 fav
2) Inishturk ( Matt Smith )
3) The Camerengo ( Bridget Andrews )
TIME 7:41 Dist, 15L 5 ran
1) AMICELLI ( Jacqueline Coward ) 2/5fav
2) Maranach ( Bridget Andrews )
3) King Du Berlais ( Louise Allan )
TIME 6:19 15L, 3/4L 7 ran
1) JOHNSTOWN CASTLE ( Andrew Braithwaite ) 2/1 jt fav
2) Argentato ( Bridget Andrews )
3) Desertmore Valley ( Rupert Stearn ) 2/1 jt fav
TIME 6:24 Hd, 3/4L 6 ran
1) OXIANA ( David Kemp ) 10/1
2) Turtle Boys ( Ben Rivett ) 4/6 fav
3) James Wyatt ( Jaqueline Coward )
TIME 6:31 3L, Dist 7 ran
128cm and under
1) RUBY TUESDAY ( Benoit De La Sayette ) Evens fav
2) Bureside Autumn Gold ( Joe Bradnam )
3) Shooting Star ( Toby Holland )
TIME 56 secs 1/2L, Neck 6 ran
148cm and under
1) LITTLE PEA ( Catherine Whyte ) 2/5 fav
2) Gwen ( Jack Gilligan )
3) Soulbury Island God ( Toby Twinn )
TIME 1:11 8L, 4L 7 ran