12.00 Intermediate –11 entries
A competitive race to open this new fixture and with the wet conditions experienced over the last few days going no worse than good should be expected. This will be a change from the ground experienced at both Horseheath and Ampton and could well lead to some surprises during the afternoon. Top of the tree is the Bradley Gibbs trained and ridden Fier Jaguen. Has won a short Restricted this season at Chaddesley Corbett over 2m 4f but clearly gets 3m with an impressive victory in a Maiden at Dingley last season. This relative novice is now upped in class and whilst he should take all the beating more experienced partnerships might find him out. The James Owen trained Fiddler of Dooney a well beaten third when last seen on the New Year’s Eve card at Horseheath could have more to give. Going may have been a bit on the slow side for this very lightly raced 9-year old and whilst he has a 1 against his name when last seen at Higham this was a walkover. The Ellis yard seems to be turning in winners left right and centre and they seem to have a very good chance with Killinkere. Steadily climbed up the ladder last season ending with a well beaten runner up in the Intermediate at the Essex Farmers meeting at High Easter back in April last year. In line with other inmates this one will be ready to run and with ground very much to suit and Ms Andrews in the plate a very good showing is expected. Alan Hill does well at Higham and he brings the promising Voie Dans Voie. After venturing to Cornwall to compete in the Cornwall Hunt Club Intermediate at Wadebridge the journey was rewarded with a one length victory over Post No Bills. Jockey that day was Will Biddick and likely jockey on Sunday will be Izzie Marshall a very capable and rapidly improving jockey. With ground to suit this one could be hard to beat. Feuille de Lune has had two runs between the flags and has been victorious on both occasions but before we get carried away she hasn’t beaten much and on both occasions, her wins would have been ably assisted by Alice Stevens. Another who seems to be going in the right direction is Castle Trump. Beat a Rowley hot shot at Ampton last week by 30 lengths without having a hard race but it remains to be seen what the quality of the race was and whether this one will adjust to Intermediate level. Francesca Poste has entered Fan Club Aulmes. This yard knows how to get horses fit but any further rain and softening of the ground might just go against this one achieving its very best. On balance, we think Feuille de Lune’s 7lb mare’s allowance could prove very helpful and we will side with her to get home ahead of the Ellis yard’s Killinkere.
Selection: Feuille de Lune Alternative: Killinkere
12.35 PPORA Club Members (Novice Riders) – 15 entries
A healthy entry of 15 for this novice riders contest but when I wrote this very few had jockeys booked which might make tipping a winner a shade difficult as in this type of race the jockey is an important factor. Azzuri represents Nick Pearce’s Warwickshire yard and they have a very good record in novice rider’s races having saddled the winner at Horseheath last month. Azzuri was 3rd last month at Charing beaten 14 L behind Back Bar in a ladies open and maybe better suited to this track than the Kent venue. A possible rival Net D’Ecosse pulled up in this race. The ex-Dan Skelton trained Longhouse Sale is a 10 time rules scorer, his last win coming at Uttoxetter in September 2020 when he beat The Butcher Said by ¾ L in a 2 ½ mile novice chase. He finished last of 5 at Worcester on his final start for Dan Skelton in August 2021. He’s now in the care of Simon Andrews so there’s a strong possibility he will be ridden by one of the rider’s attached to his son in law Tom Ellis’s yard. Clondaw Rigger is a 3 time rules scorer for Katy Price but his last win was back in November 2018 when he scored at Wincanton beating Ruperra Tom by ¾ L in a 3 mile handicap chase. Could be given a chance today if pointing can revive him after several moderate runs under rules. Chapelier would be a popular winner being owned and trained by meeting secretary John Whyte. He’s a 4 time pointing winner, all his wins coming over a four month period in 2019. On his final run last season he was 3rd here in April beaten 10 L by Laser Beam. Like Clondaw Rigger, Net D’Ecosse is trained by James Owen and he’s a previous course winner, that win coming in January 2020 when he won a conditions race beating Hawkhurst. However, he’s failed to complete in both starts this season and is probably best watched if turning out today. Monkey Puzzle is a half brother to the high class chaser Presenting Percy. He’s a 2 time rules winner for Oliver Sherwood, his last win coming at Fontwell in August 2020 when he beat Flying Verse by a Hd in a 3 mile handicap chase. A very trappy race to call with so many unknowns with the riding arrangements. The Nick Pearce yard do well in these contests so we will side with Azzuri as our selection and go with Longhouse Sale as our alternative especially if the promising Natalya Irvine is aboard.
Selection: Azzuri Alternative: Longhouse Sale
1.10 Restricted – 8 entries
Argentoratum p.u. in last week’s Ampton Maiden and with little previous form is unlikely to figure here. This will also probably apply to 11yr old Big Dawg having p.u. on his previous 4 runs between the flags. Blossoming Forth from the Gibbs yard ran a weakening 2nd in a 3 horse Restricted at Knightwick in Nov. following a 5.5L 4th in a 2.5ml Chase at Southwell in May and maybe this field on a fast track will be too strong. Bon Calvados from the Hill yard 30l. behind the impressive Fier Jaguen but weakening in the Dec. Chaddesley Corbett Restricted follows a comfortable Maiden win at Upton Cross in May – he will have come on for the run and a frame finish is on. Josh The Plod 30L back in 4th on this track in the April 2021 Hunt Members and PU on his last run at High Easter will need the run and is probably best watched. 3rd run this season for Le Pogues Storm – a distant 2nd on this track in Nov. but the going will be totally different and may suit but a running on 3rd at Charing in Dec. does not enthuse. Loughan from the in-form Ellis/Andrews combination catches the eye this week with an impressive 3L (making all) win in the 12 runner short Hexham Maiden in Nov. but a fast 3m may catch him out. Spectacular Rival with 4 p.u and a 4th in a series of Maidens last season. Selections here reflect the form of connections as well as the rides.
Selection: Loughan Alternative: Bon Calvados
1.45 Men’s Open – 17 entries
The Men’s Open race could see Early Retirement, Pont Aven and Streets of London renew their rivalry following their meeting at Horseheath. On that occasion Pont Aven was challenging Early Retirement for the lead at the third last, but fell, leaving Early Retirement to fight out the finish with Vivaldi Collonges only to fail by a head to secure the victory. Streets of London was in contention turning into the straight but tired up the hill and was pulled up before the last. Dragon d’Estruval has joined Philip Rowley this season following time spent with Guillaume Macaire, Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins. On his debut for his new yard, Dragon d’Estruval gained a facile victory in a conditions race at Larkhill, beating Blackwater Bramble by 12 lengths. Minella Beat met Fifty Shades at this track last April, Minella Beat coming out on top with Fifty Shades eventually being disqualified for losing a weight cloth. Minella Beat returned to this track in November and secured a second victory easily accounting for Monbeg Legend, but has since been pulled up at Barbury. Following his disqualification at this track, Fifty Shades went on to secure victories at Cothelstone and Chaddesley Corbett, and started this season with a close 2nd to Hawkhurst at Pyle in October.
Selection: Dragon d’Estruval Alternative: Pont Aven
2.20 Ladies Open – 12 entries
Normofthenorth and Izzie Marshall ran up a sequence of four consecutive wins last season and will surely come on for their seasonal debut at Larkhill, a month ago, when finishing 3rd. Normofthenorth also has winning form around Higham, to his credit. Champagne Lilly will have a 7lb allowance, in her favour and returns to pointing, after a spell under rules. Her record previously between the flags was impressive 4 wins out of 5 outings. Veteran Priceton Royale and Kate Gowing gave their best when 2nd to the classy Fumet D’Oudairies at Horseheath recently and will lead the field a merry dance. Myth Buster was pulled up on his GB pointing debut but could have the credentials to improve and run into a place. Gina might have to make a family choice between General Arrow, trained in their yard by husband Tom, or Longhouse Sale in the training care of father Simon.
Selection: Normofthenorth Alternative: Gina Andrews selected mount
2.55 Maiden – 23 entries
A solid number of entries for this Maiden, twenty-three in total! Sifting through the entries, four have caught our attention: Oval Street is having his debut for Nick Wright – he showed promise in a Punchestown Point to Point for his previous owner, Trevor Hemmings. He could do well for his new connections who have a proven record at Higham. No Authority ran once in a Bumper and was well backed that day, indicating superior performance during morning workouts. He ran to a decent level, only weakening in the final furlong. He would have learnt plenty that day and is respected in his first try over fences. Whotheman ran well over 2m 4f at Chaddesley Corbett, finishing 2nd to a well-regarded winner. He ran a solid race finishing 3rd in a Maiden next time out. Bradley Gibbs is making the long journey from his yard and is expected to run well. Wireless Operator must be respected coming from the Tom Ellis yard and connections had a similar winner in the Maiden at Ampton last weekend. He ran well in his first try in a Point to Point over 2m 4f, weakening after a bad blunder two out. He finished 3rd and would have come on for the run and experience. Better will be expected this time.
Selection: Whotheman Alternative: Wireless Operator
Race 1: Feuille de Lune / Killinkere
Race 2: Azzuri / Longhouse Sale
Race 3: Loughan / Bon Calvados
Race 4: Dragon d’Estruval / Pont Aven
Race 5: Normofthenorth /
Race 6: Whotheman / Wireless Operator