THE ESSEX AND SUFFOLK – HIGHAM
FRIDAY APRIL 7th 2023
2.10 Hunt Members – 11 entries
The Tom Ellis juggernaut is barrelling along at a ridiculous pace and Koyote, one of only two of these entries not to have another option elsewhere on this card, can keep his momentum going. This promises to be a much higher quality affair than most Hunt races, and on the face of it this mare has more on her plate than when beating Twilight Girl at High Easter last time, as she is now 5lbs worse off with that rival, but she is progressing so well that a fourth success of the campaign is a strong possibility. Twilight Girl will be in her element if the ground continues to dry out but still may come up just short. The Alan Hill stable has three engaged and whichever one stands their ground, it is sure to be a leading fancy. Pick of the trio could be Back Bar, a four-time Open race winner who has run well in defeat on each of his last four starts. Getting Closer drops down from Hunter Chase company. The formerly useful Knight Bachelor completes the Hill contingent but is not getting any better at the age of 13. Josh The Plod was a fair second at the last Higham fixture but this is a harder race and makes less appeal than his Rob Cundy-trained stablemate, Rock On Rocco, who may be a bit flattered by his course win in February but did score four times under rules for Tom George.
Selection: Koyote Alternative: Back Bar
2.45 Conditions (level 3) – 22 entries
A very competitive race but with horses doubled and triple entered on the card at Higham and holding multiple entries elsewhere over this busy Easter period it’s unclear what might line up. If Desire De Joie lines up he will have to carry 12st 10lbs. Connections thought he was good enough to run in last year’s Cheltenham Foxhunters. Following this he disappointed on his final run of the season at Thorpe Lodge when a beaten favourite. That was after a hard race when pulling up at Cheltenham, it’s his first run of the season so could run elsewhere instead of carrying the huge weight. Castle Trump started the season well when winning an Intermediate at Revesby Park. He was then well beaten in a very hot Open race at Garthrope. Ran in a Hunter Chase at Stratford and was beaten a distance in to second. He has it all to prove especially on this flat track as he looks like more of a staying type. Champion Chase has to be on everyone’s shortlist. The admiral 11 year old hasn’t been out of the first 3 in 9 point to points and goes on good ground and looks sure to run a solid race. Slievegar is an improving 7 year old who’s holds course and distance form when easily winning an Intermediate with a 5 lb penalty, won his next race when holding on well from Champion Chase, needs to keep improving but that’s very possible as he is only seven. Ballinagore has won 3 out of his last 4 races, winning a Maiden and Restricted at the back end of last season. it looked like he needed the run on his first start of the season when racing rather lazily and rusty. He then spreadeagled the field on his next start and won very easily in what was the quickest time of the day. He looks like a typical improver that the Kemp yard have been patient with and presumably waiting for the better ground.
Selection: Ballinagore Alternative: Slievegar
3.20 Mixed Open – 21 entries
The Mixed Open Race has strength in depth amongst the entrants, although many stables have horses double entered in other races here and elsewhere. Just Cause, the winner of the corresponding race last year once again holds an entry, but is likely to need to beat more than the one opponent he beat last season. A pipe opener at Parham last month will help but he will need to be at the top of his game to repeat last year’s victory. Other course winners include Rock On Rocco, who won in February defeating Soldier At War and Knight Bachelor, but then was outclassed in a Hunter Chase at Southwell. General Arrow is in fine form winning his last two starts, a Ladies Open race at Askham Bryan and a Mixed Open race at Didmarton. General Arrow has a victory at Higham to his name, when defeating Myth Buster last year. Another to win around this course is 2021 course winner Thumb Stone Blues who was in the process of winning four consecutive races at that time, and only recently returned to the track with an outing at Maisemore Park following a fifteen month absence. Normofthenorth has yet to run this season but he too has tasted victory at Higham. His two wins at the end of last season were gained at Kimble in a Conditions race and a Hunter Chase at Fakenham and clearly likes this time of the year. Peacocks Secret who is usually seen racing in Hunter Chases instead of points, finished 3rd to Bennys King in a Fakenham Hunter Chase last month. Kilbrew Boy who won at Horseheath last time and Castle Trump who won earlier in the season at Revesby Park may prefer a stiffer test, but one who is an interesting contender is the ex Jonjo O’Neill trained Red Maple. A first run for his new connections at Charing behind Definite Dilemma was encouraging and he has winning form as recent as August last year. Another to make a promising start to their pointing career in both of his outings so far is Janika, who’s best form under rules has been in races less than three miles, therefore this easier course is likely to suit.
Selection: Janika Alternative: Rock On Rocco
3.55 Open (Novice Riders) – 14 entries
A decent entry of 14 for this novice riders Mixed Open race. Jenny Gordon trains two of the highest rated horses and Molly Landau who’s one of the leading female novice riders this season is down to ride both. Captain Buck’s has failed to complete on his previous two outings and was 4th on his seasonal debut at Larkhill in November when beaten 12 ½L behind I K Brunel in a Ladies Open. Commanche Red is the other Jenny Gordon runner. He’s been 2nd on his last two appearances, most recently at Penshurst last month when going down by 1 ¾ L to No Hassle Hoff. Twilight Girl was 2nd on her most recent outing at High Easter last month when beaten 2L by Koyote who was receiving 5lbs from the runner up. Previously she had run up a hatrick and can’t be dismissed here. More Buck’s finished 50L behind Twilight Girl at High Easter and others are preferred to this veteran. Muckamore hails from the Francesca Poste yard. He’s a four time winner under rules. He fell at Charm Park on his most recent run but prior to this was 4th at Garthorpe beaten 21 ½L behind the Cheltenham Foxhunters winner Premier Magic in a Men’s Open. No jockey was booked but the extremely competent Amber Jackson-Fennell often rides for the yard and he’s worth a look in the betting if she’s jocked up on the day. Fierami was 2nd on his most recent outing at Shelfield Park last month, going down by 3 ½L to Butte Montana. Prairie Town was 4th in this race 14 ½L adrift of Fierami. Monkey Puzzle was 2nd on his most recent start at Penshurst last month when finishing 24 L behind Thegallantway. Possible rival Soldier At War PU in this race. Fox Valley is a previous course winner but that win was three years ago. Jenny Gordon would look to be the most likely winner here with one of her runners so we make whatever she runs our selection. Twilight Girl is receiving weight from many of her rivals so she’s our alternative ahead of Muckamore.
Selection: Jenny Gordon’s runner Alternative: Twilight Girl
4.30 Conditions (Level 2) – 18 entries
A very respectable 18 entries for what should be a competitive race on good ground. Ahead of the Game will have benefited from his run earlier this season in a level 2 Conditions at Didmarton and follows a run of 3 wins in level 3 races last season but could struggle in this grade. Castle Trump drops back in grade following a 29l 2nd in the 2m4f March Stratford Hunterchase behind Trump Leader and could run into a place as he has won at this level at High Easter last season. A 5th run this season for 6yr Doctor Tom with a Maiden win at this track in Feb on firm ground but may struggle at this level so early in his career. How to Getaway from the in-form Kemp yard looks to have an excellent chance following his run from the back of the field to just fail by a head in a Level 2 Conditions at Brocklesby Park in Feb and with 11 places in 12 runs his form says it all. Hadmeathello ran 13l 2nd when Present Ranger pu when well behind in a Veterans Level 2 Conditions at Garthorpe in Feb and will have come on for the run – another place chance. Josh The Plod was rather one paced to come 2nd. here in the Feb Intermediate beating Oval Street by 6l but on much quicker ground. 10yr. Morning Vicar from the Turner yard was a rather laboured 13l 2nd to Ballinagore at Garthorpe but should be competitive at this level. Slievegar from the Rowley yard has the chance to confirm his form here with wins over Josh the Plod 10l and Oval Street 16l here in the Feb Intermediate.
Selection: How To Getaway Alternative: Slievegar
5.05 Maiden – 13 entries
An intriguing Maiden contest to end the day’s racing with some possible debutants from Irish imports, making an appearance. Under this heading is trainer David Kemp’s Back It Up and Nigel Padfield’s Vango Vick and it is fair to say both will improve on anything they have shown to-date. The former has had just the one outing, back in March 2022 when 4th but was well beaten whilst Vango Vick has been saddled 9 times and pulled up on his last two outings this year, so some Padfield magic will be needed. Westtara had made headway to take the lead at Penshurst then ran out whilst the Tom Ellis’ entrant, Prince of Newton, has yet to complete in two outings. Threeunderthree has shown ability and was only beaten 8 lengths when 4th at Cothelstone recently over 2 ½ miles having previously finished runner-up in a Mares’ Maiden. Sleek ‘n’ Chic is progressing well for trainer Bradley Gibbs and she finished a creditable 3rd behind two above-average opponents in Captain Biggles and All The Ammunition at Garthorpe, at the beginning of February, on only her second and recent outing.
Selection: Sleek ‘n’Chic Alternative: Back It Up
Race 1: Koyote / Back Bar
Race 2: Ballinagore / Slievegar
Race 3: Janika / Rock On Rocco
Race 4: Jenny Gordon’s runner / Twilight Girl
Race 5: How To Getaway / Slievegar
Race 6: Sleek ‘n’Chic / Back It Up