The usual large Easter Saturday crowd braved the chilly conditions at Higham to witness some fantastic racing at the Essex And Suffolk Hunt Point-to-Point. Large fields of quality horses continued what has been one of the best East Anglian Point-to-Point seasons of recent times.
On a day where local horses largely held the upper hand, Thetford based trainer and jockey David Kemp got the day off to a good start with an ultimately decisive success aboard Master Workman in the opening Restricted Race. Having finished runner-up on his two previous outings this season, Master Workman deserved to get his head in front, but things may have been different had the mare Midnight Rebel, trained and ridden by Tom Ellis, not fallen when holding a slight advantage at the penultimate fence.
Fortunately immediate compensation was forthcoming in the following Mens Open for the Rugby in Warwickshire based Tom Ellis as Carlicue, trained and ridden by Tom, responded to an aggressive front-running ride to hold on by just a short head in a spectacular driving finish with the favourite Midnight King, another Warwickshire raider from the Julie Marles yard. Formerly with Paul Nicholls under rules, Carlicue put in some magnificent leaps on his way around Higham and showed admirable determination to come out on top in the best finish of the day.
The only other winner from outside East Anglia came in the Ladies Open where two of the country’s top Ladies Open horses met. It was Rear Gunner under Hannah Grissell who made the journey up from Battle in East Sussex worthwhile as they had too many guns for the odds-on favourite Description. The homebred Rear Gunner is like a family pet to his owners Barry Cockerill and Alan Cowing who were overjoyed at the eleven year-old gelding’s third win from his last four starts.
Cowlinge based trainer John Ferguson was at Meydan for the Dubai World Cup, but he would have been delighted to receive the news of the victory of Elvis The King ridden by his son James in the PPORA Club Members Race. Elvis The King dead-heated for the Restricted Race on this card twelve months previously and again showed his love for Higham. A huge jump at the open ditch six fences from home took Elvis The King to the lead and despite getting tired up the run-in, he managed to hold on by half a length from the fast-finishing The Sliotar, a second narrow runner-up on the card for Julie Marles.
The victory of Elvis The King sets James Ferguson up perfectly for a big week ahead, as he heads to Fakenham on Monday to ride Macklin in the Queen’s Cup Hunter Chase before heading to Liverpool on Thursday for an exciting first ride in the Aintree Foxhunters aboard Earth Dream, winner of the Queen’s Cup in 2012.
The last two races belonged in no uncertain terms to the Andrew Pennock and Ben Rivett combination. The Maiden Conditions Race, which was only open to horses that had never finished in the first three places in their career, was won in facile style by the mare Wila. This was a big improvement on her previous two starts when she had been pulled up on each occaion. Her stablemate American Eagle chased her home to provide the Andrew Pennock yard at Timworth near Bury St Edmunds with a satisfying one-two.
Galbally King completed the Pennock-Rivett double defeating a strong field in the concluding Hunt Members, Subscribers and Farmers Race. This was Galbally King’s second win at Higham this year as he used his speed to good effect to run the finish out of the favourite Foulstons Ruler who prefers a more galloping track and faded to fourth up the run-in.
1st Master Workman – David Kemp 6/4f
2nd Rock Of Braga – Dicky Collinson 8/1
3rd Done A Runner – Dale Peters 7/1
Time 6 mins 8 secs Dists: 10L, 3L 12 ran
1st Carlicue – Tom Ellis 6/1
2nd Midnight – King Peter Mann 11/10f
3rd Court Red – Handed Max Kendrick 5/1
Time 6 -02 Dists: Sh Hd, 4L 13 ran
1st Rear Gunner – Hannah Grissell 2/1
2nd Description – Gina Andrews 4/7f
3rd L’Oudon Bridget – Andrews 33/1
Time 6-03 Dists: 3L, Dist 7 ran
PPORA Members Conditions
1st Elvis The King – James Ferguson 5/1
2nd The Sliotar – Peter Mann 14/1
3rd Sa Kaldoun – James Owen 12/1
Time 6-05 Dists:1/2L, 3L 13 ran Lough Inch Evsf (PU)
Open Maiden Conditions
1st Wila – Ben Rivett 7/1
2nd American Eagle – James Owen 2/1f
3rd Hunts View – Gina Andrews 7/1
Time 6-17* Dists: 2L, 10L 12 ran * 2 jumps omitted, damaged fence
Higham Hunts, Farmers and Members race
1st Galbally King – Ben Rivett 2/1
2nd Pairc Na Gcapall – Clare Twemlow 8/1
3rd Caulkin David – Kemp 4/1
Time 6-06* Dists: 1L, 3L 7 ran Foulstons Ruler 7/4f (4th)
* 3 jumps omitted, damaged fence