1.00 Hunt Members – 8 entries
A good solid entry of 8 runners for the opening Hunt race. Knight Bachelor has the highest rating of the field and is a multiple NH winner and has been placed over a variety of trips from 2m 3f to 3m 4f, he is very honest and always runs a solid race so cannot be discounted. One Fine Morning has won 3 Novice Riders races for today’s jockey all coming at Higham, this 14-yr old gelding obviously comes alive at this track. Reappeared in January when a well-beaten 2nd but was well clear of the 3rd runs his best races at this track and there is no reason to suggest he won’t run to form. Laser Beam a winner of 4 Point to Points has won all his completed Point-to-Point starts in England. A solid reappearance when winning at Cottenham just before the New Year but something must have been amiss when pulling up at this course last month, best watched on this occasion until showing better signs of well-being. Steeles Terrace is a multiple point winner, he has solid course form and has a high-class Hunter Chase run to his name when 2nd to the classy Carayto des Brosses when giving him 3 lbs. He makes his stable debut today for James Owen, he shouldn’t be lacking in fitness and has won fresh before and is our selection to give rider Alex Chadwick his first winner around Higham.
Selection: Steeles Terrace Alternative: One Fine Morning
1.35 PPORA Club Members – 22 entries
Workbench was very impressive at the previous meeting here when winning the novice riders race from One Fine Morning by 20L. The Gunner Brady was a further 25L adrift in 3rd that day but is a previous course winner and Mr Satco was 34L adrift back in 6th in this race. The Gerald Bailey trained Early Retirement won at Thorpe last month beating Pass The Glass by 8 L and should be respected if turning out here. Lip Service is a two-time winner under rules, he unseated on his pointing debut earlier this month at Milborne St Andrew when well clear two out and can’t be discounted here. Lotus Pond is a prolific winner and was 3rd on his seasonal debut at Bangor On Dee when going down by 27L to Crest last month. Chapelier was a four-time winner last season. He unseated in a Fakenham hunter chase when well beaten on his seasonal debut last week. Silvergrove won a two runner hunter chase at Fakenham last season when beating Sir Jack Yeats by 47L. He finished 37L 4th to the useful Law Of Gold at Horseheath earlier this month and is entitled to come on for that run. James Owen, trainer of Silvergrove has two other horses entered in this. Midnight Cowboy pulled up in Silvergrove’s race at Horseheath. Net D’Ecosse was a winner at the previous meeting here when beating Hawkhurst by 25 L with Weather Warning 32 L back in 4th. He was sent off favourite at Cottenham two weeks ago on his next outing but finished 2nd to Forever Field, beaten 4L. Can Mestret is now into the veteran stage and finished 4th on his seasonal debut at Cottenham in the ladies open, beaten 18L by Lord Scoundrel. Newsworthy beat Multimedia at Revesby Park by a head last month. Quick Oats is an eight time pointing winner and can’t be ruled out here on his seasonal debut. Accord won his final two races last season, on his last start he beat The Gunner Brady by11L at Garthorpe in June 2019. The Turner runner Take To Heart was formerly owned by the Queen and trained by Nicky Henderson. He’s a three-time scorer under rules. His last win coming on his final run for the Henderson yard when beating Reckless Behaviour by 13L in a novice chase at Towcester in May 2018. Runners from the yard however usually need a run or two before finding their form. Plenty of horses with chances here but we will side with Workbench who won here quite takingly last time and shouldn’t be burdened carrying the extra 3 pounds for that effort.
Selection: Workbench Alternative: Early Retirement
2.10 Mens Open – 14 entries
Rupert Stearn is down to ride four of the entries in the men’s open race, Just Cause has been in fine form this season, winning all three of his engagements, the last of which was the men’s open at Cottenham, in which he beat Zeroeshadesofgrey by 12l. Net d’Ecosse, a winner at the previous fixture at Higham, could not get to grips with Forever Field at Cottenham and was closest at the finish, some 4l behind the winner. The third entry of James Owen’s is Midnight Cowboy who had his first run in almost two years at Horseheath, was eventually pulled up in the race won by Law Of Gold, in which Inchcolm was struggling with a circuit to go and was also pulled up, a disappointment having run a promising race at Barbury behind The Dellercheckout. The fourth of his listed rides is Take To Heart, who was last seen on a racecourse in May 2018, when winning a three runner, novices chase at Towcester for The Queen. Both Chapelier and An Scairp ended their seasons last year running in the “restricted” final over 2 ¾ miles at Stratford. Chapelier came out on top, finishing fourth, 12 ¼ lengths behind the winner Earth Leader, An Scairp having pulled up. Both had progressive profiles up to that point, An Scairp always running in races less than three miles, winning a restricted at Edgecote over 2 miles 5 furlongs and a mixed open over 2 ½ miles at Tabley, whilst Chapelier won twice around Ampton in a maiden and intermediate, as well winning his restricted at Horseheath all over 3 miles and then finally a conditions race at High Easter over 2 ½ miles. Chapelier reappeared this season in a hunter chase at Fakenham last week, but blundered and unseated his rider on the 2nd circuit. Petrou running in points last season having previously been in the care of Dan Skelton, was very consistent, being placed in the first four outings and then winning his next two at Charm Park and Siddington, before ending the season finishing 4th to Bishops Road at Cheltenham. Another former Dan Skelton inmate is Goodthyneaway who boasts winning NH form last year in races up to 2 ¾ miles.
Selection: Petrou Alternative: Just Cause
2.45 Ladies Open – 21 entries
Course winners Brackloon High at 15yo and Top Smart at 14yo are certainly veterans these days but their performances at the last Higham meeting, a month ago, made light of their years. Top Smart was challenging the eventual winner Knockedoutloaded when unseating Izzie Marshall at the second last whilst Brackloon High made steady late progress and just failed to catch the winner by ¾ of a length. Jennifer Harbison is now the regular partner of Brackloon High and they did win a 3 runner Ladies Open at Garthorpe, exactly a year ago, beating Can Mestret by 14 lengths. Can Mestret seems to have been about ages but has only ever run once at Higham, when finishing 2nd to Mr.Syntax in a Conditions race in 2018. Finished 18 lengths back, in 4th place, behind Lord Scoundrel at Cottenham, a fortnight ago. Changeofluck was the nearest to Latenightpass at Horseheath which was a very encouraging run, in the circumstances. However, the top-rated horse entered is Southfield Theatre and the Bradstock’s will be looking to get a run into their horse before Cheltenham, so may chose to take this option. Lily Bradstock takes the ride and has to be the selection.
Selection: Southfield Theatre Alternative: Top Smart
3.20 Open Maiden – 25 entries
At first glance this looks like a splendid race with 25 entered for the event but we feel much of this may be defensive entering with trainers keen to give their mounts a run but concerned about the state of the going at many more suitably placed venues. Having said that Higham drains particularly well and is bound to offer a better surface than many other courses throughout the country. What from the Sophie George yard. With a dam that is a half-sister to Time for Rupert this is a newcomer to the point-to-point world but as the trainer is married to top trainer Tom George, the horse is sure to have been well prepared for his first outing. Another very interesting entrant is the Sophie Lacey trained Stunsail owner by husband, Tom Lacey also a highly successful trainer under rules in the UK. Will be ridden by the very capable Tommie O’Brien one could almost mirror the comments made of the previous selection What. Both are new to racing but with backgrounds that simply ooze success. The Lacey / O’Brien combination also have another new entrant in the race San Augustin. So here we have three horses that could be anything – totally unexposed and clearly paddock viewing is vital. Torosay Castle has an exciting pedigree, which could augur well for a pointing career. Trained by former NH trainer Chris Bealby the new recruit will be ready to go and will again need close scrutiny in the paddock. Go Go Geronimo from the leading pointing yard of Gerald Bailey, ran encouragingly when runner up to Bawnmore in the Open Maiden at Horseheath. Racecourse experience is worth a great deal but Higham is as different to Horseheath as chalk and cheese and may not suit this likely long course galloper who seems a dour stayer. Another racecourse debutant also hailing from the Gerald Bailey yard is the mare Dainty Doris. Possibly also one for a longer, more demanding track, but again surely one to check out in the paddock. David Kemp’s string seems to be running into form and Ballinagore has already shown some ability with a remote second place in a June Maiden at Kinsale. With rider Dale Peters on something of a roll at the moment he will not fail for lack of effort. Many of those selected so far may not show in which case we might need to look closer to home to find our winner. Andrew Pennock has 3 entered, Straight Eight, Urban Waltz and Morning Smile. They all have racecourse experience without really shining – the latter coming second of five in a Cottenham Maiden earlier this month. If those from out of the area turn up Pennock’s trio might struggle. Finally, and we really could make a case for most entrants, Tekap from Nick Wright’s yard catches the eye. Thought well off by connections this could be the best of the local entries having missed last season after an encouraging start in 2018/2019 when with Henry Daly. On this occasion we’ve selected two visitors ever conscious that they might not turn up. Our selection is What – the combination seems exceptional and as our reserve Stunsail.
Selection: What Alternative: Stunsail
3.55 Restricted – 18 entries
The last race on the card but 18 entries should make for a great finale. Almost There from the Wright yard was placed on his last 3 runs in 2019 but may need the run even with a 7lb allowance. 9 runs for Barrack Hill in Irish Points before a Maiden win in April followed by two 3rd places another that may need an opening run. Bold Gesture from the Pennock yard has progressed from a 2nd to Oscars Fame in the short Maiden at Cottenham Dec to an unchallenged win the Maiden on this track in Jan and then ur at the 3rd last at Cottenham and should warrant a place if he gets round. Draft Pick was prominent but weakened and t.o. in the Larkhill Restricted in Jan 7yr Fiddler of Dooney from the Owen yard held on well to beat the Rowley runner Quinto Do Mar in the Dec Cottenham Open Maiden and went on to run 3l. 3rd to Getting Closer in the Horseheath Restricted and could find this track suits.6yr. Hard Ground comes off a win in an Irish Maiden in October but blundered and ur 2 out with every chance at Ampton and then ran 6l 2nd at Larkhill and could again score a place. Iron in the soul ended last season with a Parham Maiden win on good to firm watered ground an improvement on a 20l. 3rd and p.u in 2 previous 2019 Maiden runs – may struggle in this company after his 25l. 3rd here in Jan. 6yr Oscars Fame from the Ellis/Andrews yard won the Dec short Maiden at Cottenham by 6L, but struggled to a 18L. 4th in the Horseheath Restricted – can he handle 3m. but this track may suit. 6yr The Triple Pillar from the Bailey yard came good to win the 14 runner Garthorpe Maiden in March 2019 and is another with place claims. Following 2 u.r. Uknowhatimean ran 2nd to Normofthenorth in the Restricted here in Jan beating Iron in the Soul 20l. and looks a firm prospect. The progressive 7yr Voie dans Voie ran 2nd in sticky ground at Wadebridge in Jan following a Maiden win on the same track in Dec – one for a place.
Selection: Bold Gesture Alternative: Uknowhatimean / Voie dans Voie