Essex with Farmers and Union meeting at High Easter on Saturday April 9th 

 By Mike Ashby                                                                                                    


Jockey Alex Chadwick is enjoying his best ever season for winners and took his tally to fifteen with a treble at High Easter. There are certain to be more successes to come, for this stylish rider, before the season concludes.


Chadwick’s first winner came on Fiddler Of  Dooney in the extended-distance 3 ¾ mile, PPORA Conditions race where once the partnership had forced the pace, the James Owen- trained runner’s jumping improved and the final outcome was never in doubt. Fiddler Of Dooney was long and quick over the second last and already had a huge advantage when his only other rival to complete, Fox Valley, clambered over the last, a distance in arrears.


Salute The King and Alex won the Open Maiden race in comfortable style, with some bold jumping as opposed to the favourite Flashy Kate who was constantly jumping out the right at each obstacle. In the end it was outsider of the three starters, Walk In Milan, who secured 2nd place on the mare’s first completion in six starts in points.

SALUTE THE KING ( Alex’s second winner of the day )

Chadwick’s mount in the concluding Members’ race, Castle Trump, had little difficulty in securing their fifth victory of the season. They were head and shoulders above their opponents before, during and after the race with trainer Rob Cundy pleased with “a nice piece of work and a good leg stretch”. The plan is to take their chance in the Intermediate contest at Cheltenham on Hunter ‘Chase evening and connections have every reason to be buoyant considering the way Castle Trump has performed, this  season. 

CASTLE TRUMP ( landing the treble for Alex )

The Mens Open race provided the closest finish of the day with just a total of 1 ¼ lengths, separating the contest’s only three participants, at the finishing line. Rupert Stearn, riding at his powerful best, employed some bold front-running tactics on the grey Midnight Cowboy and never relinquished the lead, even when the favourite Tullys Touch challenged upsides at the second last fence. With Early Retirement rallying strongly on the inside line, up to the winning post, the final placings were in doubt in a blanket end to a great tussle.

Midnight Cowboy ran a similar race, a year ago, at this meeting when jumping the last in front, in another tight finish, when 4th, beaten less than three lengths by the eventual winner, Tullys Touch. This time the multiple winner, according to his trainer John Ibbott possibly “ran a bit flat”  whilst his jockey Will Biddick was happy to concede “the best horse, on the day, won”. Will was visiting High Easter for the first time and that’s now several courses, in the region, he has ticked off his list this season and we have always enjoyed welcoming this popular and most successful jockey, on his days out in East Anglia.

MIDNIGHT COWBOY AND RUPERT STEARN (far side) sees off the challenge of Tullys Touch and Will Biddick, at the second last fence.

This win by Midnight Cowboy was the second on the afternoon for trainer James Owen, following Fiddler Of Dooney’s success, and another stable in double winning form was that of Gerald Bailey. When Geralds’s horsebox travels from Northamptonshire it’s always worth noting and prior to Salute The King’s victory, in the Open Maiden, a suitable opportunity had been identified for another of his stable in-mates.

 Go Go Geronimo, has proved a most consistent performer over the last three seasons being placed behind some decent horses but has now recorded three wins this campaign. This form is something to build upon for the Chatfeild-Roberts family, owner John with son Tom in the saddle. The winning partnership made all the running and settled the issue two fences out before another great leap at  the last took them 7 lengths clear of Luscious Lilly, at the finish of the Intermediate race.


Lily Bradstock on Southfield Theatre completed the preliminaries for a walkover in the Ladies Open to register the sixth win of the season for the 14yo. Trainer Sara Bradstock and the team were making their initial visit to the Essex course and were slightly disappointed not to have any other declaration up against them “ it’s a shame, it looks like a nice course” said Sara as she watched Southfield Theatre canter past, in front of the judge. As they currently hold the lead for the national champion horse with the most number of wins in a season, what a remarkable achievement that would be if Southfield Theatre could retain his leadership. Sara herself “still loves the sport and older horses do as well” so we all applaud and wish the Bradstock team and owner Angela Yeoman, all the best in their quest for this top accolade.


Sum It Up recorded his second course win in the opening Restricted race, jumping into the lead two fences out, to the delight of trainer Andrew Pennock, having been impressed with the 7yo’s recent schooling. Jockey Charlie Marshall was equally taken on how the Dalmer Racing Club runner had improved since winning his Maiden here, last month, on his GB debut. “ He’s a different horse” was Charlie’s thoughts after the victory and the prospect of a decent horse with potential to improve further and Pennock’s optimism of a good performance was not misplaced after schooling him the day before. He was pleased with him anyway but that jumping element of schooling, certainly boosted his chances of success.

The race itself initially was a duel between Oakidoaki and the favourite, previous course winner Chongalolo from Tom Ellis’ yard. Charlie Marshall was content to let the front two have their own contest out in front until making his decisive move approaching two out where Sum It Up put in another faultless jump. The partnership were clear over the final fence and had more than enough in hand to land the prize, by 2 ½ lengths from Chongalolo and Ellie Callwood.

 SUM IT UP AND CHARLIE MARSHALL ( far side) jump ahead of Chongalolo

As always this meeting was attended by a large gathering with plenty of extra attractions available to keep the whole afternoon flowing, all expertly hosted on the PA system by Lawney Hill. The afternoon concluded with the Grand National being broadcast on the large screen and everyone went home happy, especially those who had some returns to come from the big Aintree race.