By Mike Ashby

With temperatures set to rise and the sun to be with us for most of the daylight hours, organisers will be looking forward to a bumper holiday attendance at the Essex and Suffolk meeting at Higham on Easter Saturday.

The dry weather conditions present added issues to the ground officials but over the years the Higham personnel have had to deal with similar situations, at this time of the year, and with access to an adjacent reservoir they can administer sufficient water to provide safe, jumping ground on race day.

There’s a top prize in East Anglia on offer at this meeting with £1000 being distributed between the first three horses past the post in the Mixed Open race.  With £600 of the pot going to the winner, the race will be keenly contested and there is also qualification for Timico and Skinners finals, up for grabs. Alan Hill has two entered and will make a choice between Allie Beag and Back Bar to perform on the day. Both are capable of winning but will not have it all their own way as Burtredgipandgump always puts his best hoof forward on the fast Higham course. He won here in January and in 2016 and has been consistent this term, beaten only 2 ½ lengths at Guilsborough a fortnight ago. Zeroeshadesofgrey has enjoyed a break since falling in a Hunter ‘Chase at Fakenham and given a clear round could make things interesting.

Local Show and William Humphrey never reached the leaders in their race at Fakenham last Sunday when attempting his fifth win of the season. They might be the surprise packet whilst Kriss William has an entry in this race and was not disgraced in his last race at High Easter.

The first race on the card is the Hunt Members’ race for Veterans and Novice Riders which gets proceedings underway and this should prove a good opening betting heat for the expected large crowd. One Fine Morning didn’t show what he is capable of at High Easter recently but now back at Higham, where he has won three times including twice this season, he is a different proposition. Abbey Lane and Torran Na Dtonn and possibly Back Bar will have to be put in their place as One Fine Morning and Charlie Clover aim to complete a Higham three-timer for this season.

Chosen Rose will relish the quick ground condition she will encounter on Saturday in the Club Members’ Conditions race. A win will go some way in restoring her obvious potential, after a couple of defeats this season.

The Open Maiden sees more than one contender, who has been knocking on the door, in recent weeks, without getting their head in front where it matters. Josh The Plod, Un Huit Huit and Sandygate all fall into this category. Two newcomers Rumble B and Castle Trump might be capable of springing a first time surprise.

The Restricted race has attracted just the four entries and The Tailor Quigley has been frustrating for the owner and backers over the past couple of seasons but is now in the hands of Alan Hill. Could this be his chance or will Bullsempire turn out again after running 2nd last Sunday or could Oakidoaki supplement his High Easter success? Either could deny Nigel Bloom a winning prize as the owner of The Tailor Quigley.

The concluding Conditions race holds chances for Argot, if he travels down from Belvoir country. His record shows he performs best at shorter distances and this 2 ½ mile affair on Higham’s flat track could be a massive advantage  Shamat won comfortably enough at High Easter and is therefore in fine fettle whilst Somme Boy and Postbridge will have their supporters. It would be unwise to rule out Kriss William who was only beaten 5 lengths by Dont Do Mondays a fortnight ago at High Easter. He could discover that winning form as the Turner family horses are now improving with every run.

A full day’s entertainment has been scheduled for this Easter Saturday fixture. There is a side-saddle dash, in aid of charity at 12.25pm followed by three pony races from 12.45pm. The afternoon continues with the six steeplechases, the first of which is at 2.10pm. A companion dog show will be taking place throughout the afternoon with eight classes culminating in a ‘supreme champion’ contest. Entries on the day. A variety of trade stands will be in attendance together with catering outlets, beer tent, ice cream van and children’s sidestalls. 

Higham is just to the west of the A12 between Colchester and Ipswich using the B1068 turn-off towards Stoke-by-Nayland, post code CO7 6NG.  

Under 17’s are admitted free while advance tickets for adults, priced at £13 per head, are available from www.highamraces.com – a £2 saving compared with what you will pay on the gate on Saturday.

Discounted ticket prices available until midnight the day before racing