PREVIEW OF THE THURLOW HUNT MEETING AT HORSEHEATH RACECOURSE ON SATURDAY FEBRUARY 1st 2020
by MIKE ASHBY
The first Horseheath meeting of the season has become one of those East Anglian fixtures to relish. By the quantity and quality of the 111 entries received for this Thurlow Hunt fixture, this meeting should live up to all expectations. There are champions, course specialists and an abundance of promising young horses all entered and ready to provide some fine action, at one of the most picturesque racecourses in the country. First of seven races is at 12noon.
Champions come in the form of Hazel Hill, current Cheltenham Festival Foxhunter’s winner and Law of Gold, point-to-point.co.uk Champion from Stratford’s Hunter ‘Chase fixture. Both are entered in the Mens Open which has the equal highest entry of the card of 21. Hazel Hill ran twice before triumphing at Cheltenham and has been seen just the once so far this season when comfortably winning at Sheriff Hutton. With Cheltenham just 6 weeks away trainer Philip Rowley could use this Horseheath race as an option to run, especially if opportunities decline with any adverse weather between now and the Festival. It is noted that Salvatore, also from the Rowley yard, has been given an entry.
Hazel Hill is a previous course winner which is not the case for Law Of Gold who has fallen on both his visits to Horseheath but did achieve 4 consecutive wins last season culminating in that victory at Stratford in May last year. Art Mauresque delighted Will Biddick with his performance at Cottenham and would be in with a shout whilst Tullys Touch, Inchcolm and another course winner Thetalkinghorse would all have their supporters, if the Foxhunter Champion was an absentee.
The meeting commences with a Conditions event, the other 21 entries race and the prospects of a real open contest looks entirely likely. Horseheath course winners include Bardsta, Bengo and the evergreen Gunmoney who last won here four years ago. Now fifteen he could be taken on by Fumet D’Oudairies who is only just five but with two recent successes at Cottenham has a long way to go to mirror Gunmoney’s career total of 18 wins from 45 races. Easythingsarebest is an alternative for John Russell/Gerald Bailey if Gunmoney remains at home. Dream Doc won gamely at Ampton and would run her heart out again, from the front. Smoke Man won his Maiden here last February then won twice more last season and already has a win under his belt, at Sheriff Hutton, this campaign.
The Ladies Open, appears to be at the mercy of Gina Andrews who has been named as the jockey for four of the entries. One assumes that husband Tom will saddle either Kalabaloo or Latenightpass to give Gina every opportunity of another Horseheath career win.
The Novice Rider’s Race will be enthusiastically contested as always and from an entry of 12, Back Bar , Fox Valley and previous course winner Summer Sounds appear to have the best credentials. Back Bar finished 2nd here last February before going on to give Henrietta Cranfield her first winner, at High Easter, the following month. Fox Valley has won and been runner-up, this season, since switching to Tom Ellis’ stable whilst Summer Sounds gave Gunmoney 4lbs when winning round here, unchallenged, last February.
The Restricted race again looks wide open with Fiddler Of Dooney, Frank And Honest and Oscars Fame all looking to build on their Maiden wins, achieved earlier this season. Fiddler of Dooney, still considered by trainer James Owen as his horse to follow for the season was a Cottenham winner as was Frank And Honest. Oscars Fame completes the trio of Cottenham winners and trainer Tom Ellis was especially pleased with that performance and would have noted that the runner-up Bold Gesture came out and won at Higham, last weekend.
There are two Open Maiden races scheduled within this attractive card. The younger horse event ( 4,5 &6yo ) is the second race on the card whilst the older horse contest ( 7yo & upwards) concludes the afternoon’s racing. The earlier race could feature some really gifted young recruits from Raffle Ticket, who won a point-to-point flat race at Barbury to an ex-Irish newcomer By Appointmentonly, being introduced by David Kemp. Tom Ellis has two entered in Bawnmore, who was beaten just over three lengths on his first start at Larkhill and Black Jasper who would be making his British debut. Throw into the mix Gerald Bailey’s Go Go Geronimo and Andrew Pennock’s Urban Waltz and there’s another race to savour.
The stand-out entries on the final race of the day are On Parole and Lough Derg Sunrise. On Parole came up against the runaway winner Huntsman Jog at Ampton and his trainer, Francesca Nimmo, has enjoyed some successful visits to Horseheath, in the past. Lough Derg Sunrise has had two starts in Irish point-to-points and Andrew and Ruth Pennock thrive on sourcing ex-Irish recruits and their success rate is phenomenal, so any entrant of theirs needs respect in these Maiden contests.
We have witnessed some cracking race in East Anglia so far this season and this meeting looks to be a classic, in the making.
Horseheath racecourse is situated 5 miles west of Haverhill, adjacent to the A1307. ( Sat Nav CB21 4QF )
Seven scheduled steeplechase races, the first of which is at 12 noon. These races will be preceded by children’s pony flat races, which are always exciting to watch purely for the enthusiasm of the competitors. Pony races from 10.45am.
There is also a family dog show with a variety of classes and a competition, with prizes, for the best dressed lady and gentleman. Numerous tradestands, catering outlets and beer tent.
Admission £12 adults with children under 16 free. £5 entry fee for Young Farmers on production of their 2019/20 Members card at the main entry gate.