THE NORTH NORFOLK HARRIERS – HIGHAM
Sunday January 26th 2020
12.00 Open Maiden – 9 entries
The lack of rain over the last week on this quickly drying Higham track will mean a change for those that have run this season and there could be plenty of upsets on this sharp track which always favours the front runners. The day starts with this modest race of which there are four stand-out runners. With the benefit of a prominent run when coming 2nd in the 2m 4f Maiden at Cottenham toward the end of December last year, the Andrew Pennock trained Presenting 7 year old , Bold Gesture, looks to have a very strong chance. Hop ‘n Skip has been off the course since March last year when an encouraging second to Foxy Singer in a modest Maiden at Kingston Blount. Still only 5 years old, this youngster will no doubt have done some growing up during his absence and with the benefit of trainer Alan Hill’s handling should come to the meeting fit to challenge. Flaggan ran some encouraging races between the flags last season but there is a certain amount of caution as this one is still a Maiden despite being 9 years old. More interesting might be Doncesor de Pretot, who started his career in France where he showed considerable ability before being sold into the UK under the guiding hands of leading trainer Olly Murphy. Two runs out of Murphy’s yard in the highly successful Sullivan Bloodstock colours he then left the yard and now finds himself contesting a Maiden race at Higham trained by Annabel Murphy, Olly’s Mum! A very interesting recruit to pointing and if taking to running between the flags could be a force to be reckoned with. Of the rest “Josh the Plod” has been there or thereabouts on a number of occasions but has yet to get his head in front. Final Sting has a prominent run under his belt this season in a Maiden at Larkhill so, if running, should be fit. On balance we think Bold Gesture will take all the beating with Hop ‘n Skip giving him most to do.
Selection: Bold Gesture Alternative: Hop ’n Skip
12.35 PPORA Club Members (Novice Riders) – 11 entries
A modest entry of 11 for this novice riders race. Workbench has been placed on both his starts this season. He was 2nd to Undisputed at the first Cottenham meeting, beaten ½ L. Legend To Be finished well behind that day. Then was 3rd at the meeting there in late December when going down by 6 ¼ L to Call Me Vic. He must be on the shortlist if running here today. Knockedoutloaded was 2nd to Ravished in the ladies open at Cottenham in late December beaten 18 L and will find this a bit easier. One Fine Morning is a three time course winner and although now 14 could go well. He won this race last year when he beat a possible rival Abbey Lane by 10 L. Abbey Lane has been well beaten on both starts this season and now 15 may struggle against some younger rivals today. The Gunner Brady won two races last season including here on Easter Saturday when beating Torran Na Dtonn by 25 L with Abbey Lane a further 12 L adrift in 3rd. Mr Satco won a hunter chase at Exeter in April 2017 when he beat Lord Ben by 6 L. He was then 2nd in another hunter chase at Warwick beaten 1 L by Rebel Rebellion in May 2017 but hasn’t got his head in front in any subsequent starts. Lukes Hill was 2nd at Parham last season when beaten 2 L by Lake Balaton. Workbench has plenty of entries over the weekend but must have a strong chance if electing to run in this race and he is our selection. The veteran One Fine Morning has a fine course record here but we will side with the Alan Hill trained The Gunner Brady as our alternative selection.
Selection: Workbench Alternative: The Gunner Brady
1.10 Restricted – 9 entries
9 entries only but should be competitive. Irish PtP Maiden winner in 2018 beating Tullys Touch by 15L. Alfie Corbitt is new to the Turner yard following a hurdling career in 2018/2019 with the Bailey yard, 2nd in his last run at Wetherby in a 3m Handicap and should he take to fences here he will possibly make the frame. Another with claims is Getting Closer new to the Hill yard and Irish Maiden winner in May but a lack lustre 9L 3rd in a Restricted. 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. Manu Cornuto, Short Maiden Cottenham winner last season but pu on 2 subsequent Restricted runs and fell at the 2nd. in the Dec. Cottenham Restricted – just watch. 6yr Normofthenorth, another Hill entry placed in an Irish Maiden and making all won the Kimble Maiden in April beating Hereditary Rule giving 14lb and could well progress further. A 7lb allowance for the veteran 11yr mare Taboo, and if looking for experience then 22 runs under rules and already 3 runs this season fits the bill – an unchallenged Short Maiden winner in soft ground at Ffos Las in Dec following a 1L 3rd to Frank and Honest in the Nov. Cottenham Maiden and a weakening 15L 2nd in the recent Ampton Restricted and may struggle again in this company. The Alchemyst from the Wright yard out last season won an Irish Maiden but may need the run before scoring over here.
Selection: Getting Closer/Normofthenorth Alternative: Alfie Corbitt
1.45 Mens Open – 10 entries
A quick return to track may be on the cards for Just Cause, the winner of the veteran’s race at Ampton two weeks ago. Patiently ridden, Just Cause challenged the leader between the last two fences, and stayed on to defeat After Hours by 1 ½ lengths. His rider, Rupert Stearn is also listed to ride the ex Nicky Henderson trained Take To Heart, who was last seen on a racecourse in May 2018, when winning a three runner, 2 mile 5 ½ furlong novices chase at Towcester for The Queen. Another former inmate of Nicky Henderson’s establishment is Sugar Baron, who would often be seen competing in staying chases at grade 1 tracks. Last seen when pulling up in the Bet 365 Gold Cup (formerly the Whitbread Gold Cup) at Sandown in April 2018, his last victories were back in 2016, one of which was at the expense of another of the entries Zeroeshadesofgrey. Zeroeshadesofgrey has run twice thus far this season but has yet to complete. Pulled up on his return to the track, he then fell at the 4th last in the race won by Art Mauresque at Cottenham. An improvement in his jumping will be needed for him to return to the winner’s enclosure. Thetalkinghorse has been a grand servant to his connections, winning 13 points and 1 hunter chase, and rarely finishing outside the first 3, had a disappointing season last year. Although a winner on his seasonal reappearance, he only ran twice more, being beaten by Black Valentine on both occasions at Brafield and Guilsborough.
Selection: Just Cause Alternative: Thetalkinghorse
2.20 Ladies Open – 9 entries
Course winners Brackloon High at 15yo and Top Smart at 14yo are certainly the veterans of those entered but it’s difficult to assess their form these days. Jennifer Harbison partnered Brackloon High in all his races last season and they did win a 3 runner Ladies Open at Garthorpe. They’ve had an outing this season but were a distant 4th in a Ladies Open at Larkhill. Top Smart is often entered but seldom declared but is consistent when running. Won this corresponding race last year and is unbeaten in two other outings at the Higham course. Mr Satco was running throughout the autumn of 2019 in h’cap ‘chases in the West Country but with some moderate finishes. Oh Toodles and Immy Robinson have managed 8 wins together but are without any Higham experience. Although only slightly younger at 13yo than the two “veterans” mentioned earlier, they could make life difficult for Top Smart.
Selection: Top Smart Alternative: Oh Toodles
2.55 Conditions – 15 entries
This being the last race of the day looks as if it could be ‘saving the best till last’. Fifteen entries and quite a few entered have ratings over 100 and many of the others in the nineties. Hawkhurst was very successful in 2018 winning five races and 2nd in another, tailed off somewhat in 2019 when in six outings won two in small fields. This season has raced three times pulled up on one occasion and unseated rider twice the last time was at Ampton two weeks ago. Laser Beam won three on the trot in 2019, a Maiden, Restricted and an Intermediate at High Easter. However, these were in small fields, the latter two only having three runners. Was very impressive at Cottenham at the end of December last year when in a race of thirteen entries beat Burtredgipandgump by five lengths in an exciting finish. Net d’Ecosse had reasonable form in 2019 winning a Members Condition race at Northaw in May, started as favourite. Finished 5th at Cottenham in December but made a mistake four out which ended its chances, did run on well at the end. Susquehanna River is a veteran pointer now but has won six races in the past with five 2nds and two 3rds. Won two Members Conditions races at Edgcote in April. Also won two Novice Riders Conditions races at Garthorpe last season. Undisputed won the Club Members Conditions race at Cottenham in an exciting finish when beating Workbench by ½ length. Is from the Philip Rowley yard and ridden by Alex Edwards one of the top Point to Point riders. Hazel Hill is entered at Thorpe Lodge on the same day and is from the same combination so whether Undisputed runs here is unknown at present. Workbench has raced twice this season firstly as mentioned above and secondly when 3rd to Call Me Vic later. Fantastic horse this considering it has had sixty races in its career the first of which was at Newbury under rules in 2012 when with the Skeltons. If your looking for horses for courses, not so highly rated but should be considered is One Fine Morning. Has had eight races in points winning four three of which have been at this course.
Selection: Laser Beam Alternative: Undisputed
Race 1: Bold Gesture / Hop ’n Skip
Race 2: Workbench / The Gunner Brady
Race 3: Getting Closer/Normofthenorth / Alfie Corbitt
Race 4: Just Cause / Thetalkinghorse
Race 5: Selection: Top Smart / Oh Toodles
Race 6: Laser Beam / Undisputed