By Mike Ashby

The Essex and Suffolk meeting at Higham annually attracts a colossal attendance and with the overflow car parks being utilised from an early stage, another huge gathering took place at the popular course on the border of the two counties.

The course was again in superb condition for this second and final fixture of the Higham season and had benefitted from the ideal amounts of rain together with the timing of when it had fallen, leading up to the meeting.

Winning celebrations are always part of the day’s racing and there were two special occasions to relate after an enthralling day’s racing. Izzie Marshall recorded her 100th winner of her career and her 93rd in points when giving I K Brunel an exceptional ride to take the Mixed Open race having taken control of proceedings from two fences out. The pairing stayed on strongly to register a 4 length victory over last year’s winner of the race, Peacocks Secret, with previous course winner Slievegar back in 3rd place. After her success, Izzie was pleased to acknowledge all the owners and Alan, Lawney and Joe Hill who had supported her from the start and during her riding career which began in December 2015 at Wadebridge with her first points winner coming on Conkies Lad at Penshurst in March 2016 and her first victory for the Hill’s on Supreme Danehill, back at Wadebridge in December 2016.



Andrew and Ruth Pennock train their horses at Timworth, adjacent to the Ampton course and over the years have enjoyed many successes at Higham. None would have pleased them more than Shanes Passion convincing victory in the closing Maiden contest. The Pennock’s are a true family outfit with son Henry, celebrating becoming a teenager on the day, proudly leading their triumphant horse round the winners’ enclosure and the family connection didn’t end there as Ruth’s parents are involved as part of the shared ownership of Shanes Passion. In the race itself, all eight Maiden contestants were jumping impeccably for the first circuit with Vango Vick and the eventual winner leading the way but these two front-runners together with the favourite, Bless The Moon and Just A Mystery began to pull clear of their rivals at the cross fence, four out. From here Shanes Passion took full command of the race and ran out a 4½ length victor over Vango Vick. Dale Peters took the winning ride and this was his first success for the Pennock stable, after several near misses over the years and after the trophy presentation, expressed the race had “gone to plan”.


The Pennock team just missed out in the opening Members’ race after their representative Ask Carla, partnered by Paddy Barlow, had led for most of the contest until challenged by Good Source who drew alongside two out and “smoothly quickened and put the race to bed” according to winning jockey Jack Andrews. On reflection, Good Source was entitled to go one better after coming up against the impressive, Knight In Dubai at Horseheath in mid-February but nevertheless Ask Carla had run extremely well in the circumstances, going down by just 4 lengths, especially as he returned to the horsebox area “very sore” according to his trainer and after an initial examination by the vet, the nature of the issue was unable to be established, at the time.


Back It Up returned to winning ways in the 3½ mile Conditions race, to record his second course victory for owner John Ridge and trainer David Kemp. Covered up by jockey Alex Chadwick for most of this inaugural race over an extended distance around Higham, leaving Sir Shelby and Go Go Geronimo to head the field of 8 runners, for a large part of the race. At the business end of the contest, the three market leaders, Go Go Geronimo, All Is True and Back It Up and were locked together approaching two out and at the last, which all three jumped without error. In a tense finish, the latter prevailed by a short head from the odds-on favourite Go Go Geronimo with All Is True a further 1¾ lengths adrift. The runner-up finished distressed but pleasingly, after being doused with several buckets of water was considered recovered, whilst the winner could be aimed at the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham but needs qualification before that becomes a reality.


Ellie Callwood adopted different tactics, on Precious Bounty, to the normal front-running ones normally employed, in the PPORA Mixed Open for Grass Roots Riders, a race for riders who had not ridden more than 20 winners, under all codes. This was their eighth win together and Ellie took up a position behind the leaders “ just to get him settled and travelling strongly” and when asked to go and win his race there was an instant injection of pace which took the partnership 15 lengths clear of any other rival, through to the finishing line.


Another Ellie, namely Holder, was seen to good effect with a determined and productive ride on Killinkere in the Conditions Level 2 race, which saw the biggest field of the day; ten being declared. Two winners from the Higham meeting in February were the only ones to make a contest of the race. Mount Pleasant had won his last two races and Shentri represented Kelly Morgan’s stable who were looking for a double after Precious Bounty’s victory. Killinkere’s last success came at Kimble in April 2021 when defeating none other than Famous Clermont and here the winning partnership were clear and away from any challengers from two out to take the spoils by 5½ lengths from Shentri with Mount Pleasant another 4 lengths further back. Ellie gave an honest assessment post-race by summarising the performance as “Better than expected. We wanted to be positive and he travelled and jumped well, kept going and stayed there”. This was the second win of the season, for Miss Holder and the 10th of her career to date and Killinkere’s success completed a double for trainer Georgina Ellis after Good Source’s win in the opening race of the afternoon.


The Stewards were busy with misdemeanours regarding passports and the over-use of the whip but this was another hugely successful Good Friday, Higham fixture on all fronts and once again immense credit to the officials responsible for the course preparation, ably assisted by the weather patterns, having attracted 46 runners from the 62 individual horses, entered for the meeting.

Photographs courtesy of Graham Bishop Photography