With the exceptional weather, all roads led to Higham racecourse for this popular Essex and Suffolk Hunt fixture and the normal parking area was soon at capacity whilst the designated overflow fields were experiencing similar volumes. The Easter crowd descended upon this rural area, on the Essex/Suffolk border, in what must be one of the highest attendances the course has experienced. The equine numbers were never expected to be of a high level and course officials deserve tremendous praise for producing safe, racing conditions.

The biggest field of the day came in the opening Hunt race and of the five runnersfacing the starter, The Gunner Brady and Charlie Case never gave their rivals another thought as they enjoyed a pillar-to-post victory by twenty lengths. Charlie took over the ride from the owner’s daughter Henrietta who is still recovering from injury and had the advantage of knowing the horse, as he rides out for trainer Alan Hill everyday, during this his gap year. This was Charlie’s first winner of the season and his fifth overall and his ‘support’ team included his father Ben, the professional trainer, who rode a winner himself at Higham, on Harpley Madam, in a division of the Adjacent Hunts Maiden in 1989.

Andrew Pennock’s stable has an outstanding, winning record at Higham and they recorded, with jockey Richard Collinson, three more winners. Collinson has announced his impending retirement from race-riding but was seen to good effect on both Steeles Terrace and Un Huit Huit whilst the other “winner” came with Bullsempire in a walkover in the Restricted race.

Steeles Terrace won the Mixed Open and his jockey said of the performance that “he was nearly back to his best” The partnership swept by Kriss William, three fences out, to comfortably land the top monetary prize.

Un Huit Huit won the Open Maiden in a match beating Heath King by five lengths. The grey according to Collinson “got the job done in perfect fashion to build his confidence, to make the step up to the Restricteds” The win made it a memorable day for owner Kevin Needham who last tasted success back in 2002 when he rode a double at Easingwold in Yorkshire.

Richard was full of praise for the Higham officials “the ground was perfect and a great fixture as always” On announcing his retirement he added “ I would like to make a special thanks to the late Henry Hill who, as with a lot of others, got me going. A true gentleman who will be missed by all”

Trainer Sarah Humphrey walked the course before racing and decided to run two of her entries. The consistent Local Show could not match the two main contenders in the Mixed Open. However Postbridge overturned the Pennock representative Chosen Rose, in the Novice Rider’s race, which was a two runner affair, to give son William Humphrey his fifth career success.

The final 2 ½ mile Conditions race had always been the target for Argot, according to his trainer, Jonathan Barlow as he explained afterwards “the right distance, ground and a flat track.” The winning connections only arrived on the racecourse a couple of races before they faced the starter. The horsebox took over four hours to complete the journey from their Nottinghamshire base and on arrival found the normal entrance road to the horsebox park was blocked by cars exiting the course. A second, this time successful attempt was made via the alternative course entrance which entailed driving through the crowds and their massive picnics ! Rory Bevin had the ride on the 8-y-o and they finished alone and apparently thought there must have been a false start as they never saw another rival. In fact the other three runners pulled up during the race and all trotted past the crowd on the home straight who spontaneously broke into rapturous applause. A lovely touch and appreciation for those who had competed on a very hectic day which included pony racing, a side-saddle dash and a companion dog show proving very popular as did the e-tickets which were available, at a reduced price. All these coupled with what for many was a meeting place for a busy Easter social occasion, which all took place in absolutely glorious weather.

Here are the full results for the Essex & Suffolk meeting held at Higham. The official going was good to firm.

Hunt Members and Subscribers for Veteran and Novice riders

1st The Gunner Brady                     Charlie Case            3/1

2nd Torran Na Dtonn                  Luke Scott                 7/4

3rd Abbey Lane                                    Alex Chadwick         4/5f

Time 5-57      Dists: 20L 15L

5 ran

also Granit F Tirob PU

Restricted                                                                                                                  1st Bullsempire                                     Richard Collinson   Walked Over

Mixed Open                                                                                                                         1st Steeles Terrace                                   Richard  Collinson  10/11f

2nd Kriss William                                    Rosie Turner             5/4

3rd Local Show                                  William Humphrey   7/4

Time 5-59      Dists: 3 ½L 6L           3 ran

PPORA Novice riders Conditions                                                                                    

1st Postbridge                                    William Humphrey   7/4

2nd Chosen Rose                             Luke Scott                 2/5f

Time 5-59      Dists: Dist                 2 ran

Open Maiden  

1st Un Huit Huit                          Richard Collinson   1/2f

2nd Heath King                                  Alex Chadwick         5/4

Time 6-20      Dists: 5L                    2 ran

Conditions Race 2 miles 4 furlongs  

1st Argot                                                Rory Bevin                4/6f

Time 5-25      Dists: finished alone

4 ran

also Clenagh Castle PU Somme Boy PU Take The Crown PU