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Higham, 28/1/18

North Norfolk Harriers

Obviously the North Norfolk should go to southern Suffolk for their point-to-point. These are the sort of things that make day to day life tick in East Anglia. Other things are home made soup, sausage of all sorts of shapes and sizes and badly maintained A roads. And yet somehow, Higham at the end of January always worms its way onto the UK-Jumping point-to-point calendar.

Going: Good, Good to Firm in places

Race 1: Lycetts Open Maiden

1: Kev The Car     2: Redmond Hall     3: Iwillifiwant

Winner owned: Mrs SJ Stearn, trained: James Owen, ridden: Rupert Stearn

The final margin of victory was a head, for a race that was shaping as if it would be taken a bit more comfortably. What changed was the idenity of the horse that would do the taking. From about fence fourteen Kev The Car seemed set on the road to victory, but a surge by Redmond Hall appeared to put him in position to ease away as they approached the last. Instead the balance tilted back to Kev The Car in the shadow of the post. In reality the first pair both slowed up, as Iwillifiwant was a good ten lengths plus behind jumping the last and he narrowed the gap to four lengths. The commentator dodged a torturous bullet as Empire representative Ididandididn't had pulled up rather than get involved in a right old ding dong with Iwillifiwant. Our hero will be better for the run andthere was nothing to be disappointed about. The first three were comfortably clear of the rest but Caryto Des Brosses did a decent job in front until weakening sharply after fence thirteen. From the also rans Chargehand is interesting. He failed to finish a race in France and has shown nothing in two point-to-points, but his jumping appears to be quite solid, and there might be something somewhere that he can work with.
Description
After his win, Kev The Car decides not to tempt fate by being too smug, just in case it comes back to bite him on the bum - note how he keeps clear of the oppo to stall any other bum biing scenarios that may be on the cards

Race 2: Birketts PPORA Members Novice Riders

1: Just Cause     2: One Fine Morning     3: Banksandditches

Winner owned & ridden: Tim Gredley, trained: James Owen

After a wide margin Cottenham win at New Year and an inconvenient unseat since, Just Cause was expected to be favourite. He was, however, a very short price and the attention was drawn to Banksandditches and Nightscape as horses whose best form was not that far behind Just Cause. Banksandditches went too fast in front and imploded three out. Nightscape jumped the three closely placed fences on the far side a bit sluggishly and was never able to regain the ground lost. So what happened was that Just Cause had the utter stroll that the betting ring was expecting, officially winning by a distance. One Fine Morning managed to keep his morale up enough to hold second by a mere ten lengths. After a series of errors Colebrook uneated at fence twelve. As his last three seasons had average 1.333 races, this second appearance of the term could be as much as he can handle. Enjoy the summer off.

Race 3: Proveeda Restricted

1: Steeles Terrace     2: Mountain Eagle     3: King'sWalden

Winner owned: Two Farmers And A Butchers Partnership, trained: Andrew Pennock, ridden: Shane Roche

When he won impressively in maiden at Ampton, the caveat on interpreting the form of Steeles Terrace was that he did not have a great deal to beat. He handled the step up one class with a bit of style and whilst Mountain Eagle (a 118-rated hurdler) was only a handful of lengths behind at the line, there were no times when he really look as if he would change the result. However, having pulled up on his comeback from eighteen months off, it was a decent effort from the runner-up to only be beaten by an in-form Steeles Terrace and have the rest toiling a mile adrift. There was the small matter of Steeles Terrace making a classic Higham final fence mistake and nearly unseating at the last - a good jockey recovery was needed... King's Walden might have been more of a worry to the main pair but he inexplicably forgot how to jump for the whole of the final circuit. Wide margin Cottenham 2m 4f winner Full Batten had since been stuffed out of sight at the same course over three miles. He seemed to deal with the regular distance here just as badly, but a smattering of slowish jumps when being patient in the rear put him in a bad and irrecoverable position.

Race 4: Stevensons Of Norwich Mens Open

1: Broken Eagle

Winner owned: Jake Exelby & Alan Hill, trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Joe Hill

This race had a disappointing turnout of two runners. The other one was Probably George who pulled up lame at the fifth - although it was later reported not to be a serious problem. That left a long schooling session for Broken Eagle, although it did look as if Probably George was not fit enough to worry Broken Eagle into one of those occasional mad things that he does. So it might have been an extended schooling bout anyway.

Race 5: Skinner's Pet Foods Ladies Open

1: Top Smart     2: Treacyswestcounty     3: Sand Blast

Winner owned: Mrs Susan E Busby, trained: Jenny Pidgeon, ridden: Gina Andrews

The money came for Porlock Bay in this competitive heat, but he was clearly not going to justify it as early as fence thirteen. The horse trying to match him in the betting was Top Smart, who had a greater involvement in the business end at the point that Porlock Bay dropped away he was not quite travelling in complete comfort himself. The horse who had the race in his grasp was Treacyswestcountry, who has been improving in small increments over the last couple of years, but who is not a competitor who thrives upon a high winning percentage. Therefore it was not really a surprise when Top Smart worried his rival into submission. Sand Blast does not have a huge amount of races to his name, but his approach to career building is much in the same "win occasionally" style as Treacyswestcounty, and he is yet to threaten to turn over a new leaf in pointing. There were only four finishers as the other horses were keen to experiment with ideas such as unseating on the flat or refusing. When the season ends, we may not be reflecting on this as one of the elite open races served up.
Description
When taking a picture of Treacyswestcounty, leading Porlock Bay and Top Smart a lap out, it seemed that it might be topical a circuit later. Wrong.

Race 6: Barratt & Cooke Countryside Alliance Club

1: Karinga Dancer     2: Hawkhurst     3: Ericht

Winner owned: The Barbury Racing Club, trained & ridden: Laura Thomas

When interviewed after Broken Eagle's race, Alan Hill noted that Hawkhurst had responded well to being in a smaller yard and less of a production line environment. He also noted that the horse did not have the reputation for mental stoutness that many people like. After two wins in very comfortable style, we saw the dark side of Hawkhurst. When Karinga Dancer went on attack at the fourth last, Hawkhurst did the racing equivalent of curling up in a ball and hoping the problem would pass him by. It did, on its way to victory. Karinga Dancer was having his first race of the season and tied up at the last. In order to maintain the status quo that he had created, Hawkhurst made a mistake at the last, when there was just a chance of him redeeming himself. The rest of those still going were not doing anything terribly noteworthy well behind the first pair, and Ericht stayed on to nick third from Pierlow and Burtredgipangump.
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Burtredgipandgump has the lead from Hawkhurst - another expected topical photo shot down in flames. Karinga Dancer is in the red cap on the outside, chasing Pierlow (yellow) and getting ahead of Ericht (white). Rendezvous Peak is toiling.
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