By Mike Ashby

The East Anglian season just keeps on providing us with excellent racing and the High Easter Racing Club meeting was another, which produced a series of tight finishes.

Judge, Jonathan Benson, who officiates at all the fixtures in the region, is always diligent in his duties but had to be fully focused during the whole afternoon’s proceedings, with five out of the six races being decided by a winning distance of one length or less.

The meeting became a triumphant afternoon for trainer David Kemp who is based at Kilverstone near Thetford. Three horses, all owned by David and his wife Imogen and ridden by Dale Peters, were brought to the Essex course and all returned home as winners. Although not the first treble achieved by David, it was the first time all his winners carried his and his wife’s colours. David has nine horses in his care, of which four are owned by him and his wife and the other one, Rebel Dawn Rising had won a Fakenham hunter ’chase the previous day !

Designed To Win initiated the treble, in the Restricted race, after overcoming a mistake at the second last fence, then threw down a challenge to the front-running Mister Splash to gain a short-head verdict, at the winning line. Kemp was pleased with the battling qualities of the winner whilst the winning jockey, Dale Peters, was honest in his post-race appraisal that if the pairing had made another error at the last, their chance of winning would have gone.


Law Of Gold continued the Kemp’s winning ways with a 2¾ length success over Captain Biggles in the  Mixed Open with Tullys Touch a further ¾ length adrift. Only four horses faced the starter and approaching two fences out all four still possessed winning chances but again jockey Peters galvanised enough effort from Law Of Gold, to claim victory. The winner already has an impressive CV and this was his eighth pointing success and will again be aimed at the 4 mile contest at the hunter ‘chase meeting at Cheltenham, a race he won last season.


and LAW OF GOLD (nearside)

All The Ammunition completed the Kemp’s successful afternoon with victory in the 3¾ mile PPORA Club Members’ Conditions contest. Described by his trainer as “genuine”, All The Ammunition took up the running three fences out and although Mitchouka came with a strong and sustained run around the final bend and approaching the last, Peters was again able to secure victory with a powerful finish, from the saddle. A sad postscript to the race with Koyote, who had led the field for over two circuits, collapsed and died after suffering an internal hemorrhage, after completing the race in 4th place.


If it was a day of total success for one stable then there is the other side of competitive racing, namely narrow defeats and that was how the Turner family’s day resulted. Always happy to be involved and ever magnanimous in defeat, their two runners Mister Splash and Atlantic Fleet endured slender reverses but trainer Ed, brother Ben and mum Rose will, on reflection, be delighted with their horses’ performances. Whilst Mister Splash and jockey Murray Dodd just failed to lead all the way, in the earlier Restricted race, Atlantic Fleet again with Dodd in the saddle, progressed from being last along the meadow back-straight to taking the lead, in the closing Maiden race, approaching the final stages. Driveondonn who was jumping well and leading three out was coming under pressure and it was the Andrews’ siblings; Jack on Whatwasigoingtosay and Gina on For One Night Only who emerged as Atlantic Fleet’s main rivals. In another classic, close finish Gina manged to encourage every last effort from her mount to snatch victory on the line, by a head, from the Turner runner.


Two young jockeys, Archie Loweth and Tom Hutsby, were both paying their first visits to High Easter and this date and venue will become particularly memorable to nineteen-year-old Loweth who rode his first winner, on Pym. in the Small Keepers’ Conditions race. Based with Bradley Gibbs and riding for Gibbs’ partner Clare Sheriff, Loweth, expanding on his eventing background, produced a competent ride on the six-time winner under rules. With two of the five runners unseating, it was left to the remaining three contestants to make it another desperately close encounter. As the trio rounded the final bend, Red Maple, the odds-on favourite, and Alex Chadwick found themselves short of room and were forced to switch to come round the outside of his two opponents. The final outcome saw Pym hold on by ¾ of a length with Ecco just 1½ lengths further back. At the presentation, Loweth described his mount as needing to get his confidence back which the partnership demonstrated admirably  and “ he jumped amazingly and stayed on” were his post-race comments.

Tom Hutsby, at the age of sixteen, is gaining confidence and learning with every ride and was seen to good effect in the opening PPORA Club Members’ Novice Riders’ race. A Toi Phil and the favourite Muckamore were vying for the lead throughout the first and most of the second circuit until Hutsby moved Young Rich forward to take the lead three out but Muckamore stuck to the task, despite conceding 10lbs to the eventual winner, this became the afternoon’s first tight finish, as there was just one length between them at the finish. Hutsby was riding for the Ellis’ stable for the first time and Young Rich’s victory initiated a first and last race double for trainer Tom Ellis.


We have been very fortunate to have gone home delighted by the racing witnessed, in all seven East Anglian meetings that have taken place, this season,

All photographs courtesy of Graham Bishop Photography