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High Easter, 24/3/18

High Easter Racing Club

This was the first visit to High Easter, as although it is not far distant, the fixtures (and only recently has it expanded to two per season) always seemed to be a bad fit. Even this was a rearrangement for last week's abandonment. However, were the Empire not intended to be action via Ididandididn't the shambolic traffic at the Dartford Crossing may have led to turning around and missing this one as well. Some people did, including the horsebox with the key performers! Other people were overheard bemoaning the issue, so add in the inevitable reduced crowd for a late rearrangement, and the attendance was small. What was worse is that most of the traffic problem was avoidable because the incompetent clowns that run our roads had reduced access to the Dartford tunnels for no valid reason - the accident had occurred before the tunnels (for northbound traffic) and the flow of traffic was being reduced onto a motorway that was as near to being empty as can be imagined.

Going: Good (Good to Soft places)

Race 1: Fluker Farms PPORA Members Novice Riders

1: One Fine Morning     2: Bivouac

Winner owned & ridden: Charlie Clover, trained: Thomas Clover

There was no chance to prepare for this after arriving just in time to hear to commentator announce that the field was off and running. With three of the five runners unseating, one at fence fourteen and two of them when tailed off by the second last, the finale was fought out by One Fine Morning, who had done most of the leading, and Bivouac. The latter had gone on at fence fourteen, but made a bad blunder two out and was totally unable to get going again as One Fine Morning swept back to the front. With two and a half mile races more prevalent than in the past, Bivouac did not seem as futile an acquisition as he would have been in past years, but running in three milers is a complete waste of time.

Race 2: Dome Village Restricted

1: Willflywontsink     2: Shamat     3: Cresta One

Winner owned: SRW Howlett, trained: Tom Ellis, ridden: Gina Andrews

Viewing from the mound in the centre of the course, which is not right up to the winning line, this finish between Willflywontsink and Shamat appeared to be perilously close, and the final margin was a short head, but the jockey body language instantly told the story of the result, and even Shamat appeared to be dejected. Neither he nor Willflywontsink made especially impressive jobs of the final fence, but on the short run-in Willflywontsink picked up the best. A stark contrast to how he contrived to lose at Charing, but that was perhaps a stronger Restricted. The entire field was in a tight bunch at fence fifteen, from which stage some showed that their stamina reserves are not as full as is needed, Cresta One being the main case in point. He has given that impression in the past as well. Blackwood Rover dropped out using a different method - he hit the fifteenth, hit the sixteenth and unseated at the seventeenth.
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Willflywontsink trots back for a prize collection ceremony whilst Cresta One is a little bit jealous - but not as much as she needs to be.

Race 3: Dengie Mens Open

1: Follow The Paint     2: Ivy Gate     3: Curraigflemens

Winner owned: LJH Racing Club, trained: Laura Horsfall, ridden: Jack Andrews

Only four took part, but it was competitive enough stuff, and was won thanks to an excellent front-running ride by Jack Andrews. Follow The Paint is a smallish mare, but by skipping off in the lead she could not be intimidated by the larger animals. Ivy Gate and Curraigflemens sat smugly off of the pace (at least we presume smugly - the horses were being as expressionless mid-race as usual) but an additional injection of pace after the fourteenth caught them out. By the time that Follow The Paint met the run of three fences in the back straight it was clear that she was not going to be caught, and it only took a bit of nudging along to maintain her clear lead. Ivy Gate took over the clash for runner-up sot at the second last.
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Everyone is distracted by something else going on, but Follow The Paint knows how to get a photo on UK-Jumping.

Race 4: County Linen Ladies Open, 2m 4f

1: Great Link     2: Weather Warning     3: Degooch

Winner owned & trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Izzy Marshall

As with the previous race, victory came into the hands of the third favourite. Great Link was debuting for Alan Hill, and this normally prompts great prominence in the betting. The weak link here was Great Link not having won since summer 2015 and taking on Degooch, who was an impressive winner at Charing on his pointing bow, and Quick Oats, who is very productive and the nippy sort who should have appreciated the shorter race. What happened was that the less considered Weather Warning set a strong pace and Great Link was very comfortable with it. He picked off Weather Warning at the final fence when that horse made a bad mistake - without that the long time leader had a shot at holding on, although it would have been close either way. Degooch found the distance not to his liking and after thumping fence six hard, Quick Oats made a succession of sloppy jumps that gradually knocked him out of contention for the win.
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Weather Warnning leads Great Link out for the final lap, with Curragh Hall, Quick-but-clumsy Oats and Degooch. It was getting a bit gloomy by this stage.

Race 5: Jackson Stops Conditions Race, 10 year olds and up

1: Excitable Island     2: Kriss William     3: Edeiff's Lad

Winner owned & trained: Nigel Padfield, ridden: Gina Andrews

Excitable Island was the stand out contender in the field of six, and he won without being stretched. Patience was shown as he did not pounce until the second last, but was travelling so much better than the others that the race was soon put to bed. Kriss William was not posing a threat, but Edeiff's Lad was eased when beaten and did not press for second. The most notable inciden was with Spitfire Ace. A blunder at fence four, just before a sharp left turn seemed to cause a tack problem. So he stopped to sort it out, and resumed at least a furlong behind the rest. He was actually reeling in a massively sulky and low jumping Benheir when pulling up for a second time at fence eight.

Race 6: Essex Arb Open Maiden

1: Midnight Bliss     2: Infinityandbeyond     3: Stowaway Hall

Winner owned & trained: Caroline Fryer, ridden: Kate Gowing

A field of eleven was the biggest of the day and it was a decent enough race in depth. We had two departures in the first couple of miles, including fancied Age Of Heroes, but on the long run into fence fifteen the remaining nine were well bunched and all in contention. There was a lot of jockeying for positions, for which every profit had an equal and opposite loss. The upshot of it all was that favourite Midnight Bliss showed a nice turn of foot from two out to get the better of Infinityandbeyond. The winner had been second in his last two, but the runner-up brought rather less encouraging credentials to the party. Stowaway Hall did not build on his seasonal debut Charing, but ensured third place - again. Racing Eagle's seasonal bow at Higham had a whiff of gentle warm up to it, and fourth here was better, but not the great leap forward believed (on this site, at least) to be possible. Stick to the thought that there is more to come. Sandygate was fifth after sitting at the back for a long way, rushing up to third at fence sixteen and then being a bit swamped again afterwards. He has hurdle and pointing form that is sufficient to find a winnable maiden somewhere.
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