Event reports

HIGH EASTER RACING CLUB AT HIGH EASTER - SUNDAY 15TH MARCH 2020

  • Posted: Wednesday, 18th March 2020
  • Author: Mike Ashby
  • Photo: Graham Bishop

It was business as usual at High Easter on Sunday with the High Easter Racing Club meeting taking place as scheduled.

It was also very much business as usual for the Andrews' siblings, Gina and Jack, who enjoyed three winners on the afternoon between them; two for Gina and one for Jack. Both are leading their respective national rider's championships with Gina about to land her seventh lady rider title, whilst brother Jack is seeking his first of the male equivalent.

Gina's two successes came courtesy of the lightly-raced mare Tiger's Song, in the shorter two-and-a-half-mile Restricted, and Sugar Baron (pictured), who dictated from the front in the marathon three-and-three-quarter-mile Conditions event. Tiger's Song was taking part in only her fourth career race but showed speed, as well as an element of greenness, to stay on well and give Gina her 21st winner of the season. The mare might be fragile but so may have been Gina's nerves when a totally wrong number was announced as the winner, as the finish was extremely close. The seven-year-old mare managed to overcome Bold Gesture on the run-in to gain the verdict by a head.

Sugar Baron had been a 'big' race performer for Nicky Henderson under Rules, running at the Cheltenham Festival, contesting Whitbreads at Sandown and even lining-up for the Scottish National during his time with the top yard. All these were over extended distances, so his pointing debut for Nick Wright when second behind Just Cause over an easy three miles at Higham in January probably wouldn't have been demanding enough for the ten-year-old. Here, however, he looked as if he could go around again after seeing off his rivals comfortably by seven lengths and, with Gina fully confident of his staying ability, nobody else got a look in. With Archie Wright still side-lined, Gina was quickly on the phone to Nick Wright as soon as the entries came out requesting the ride, and it proved to be a good decision. It was the first time Gina had sat on the horse and brought up winner number 22 of the season.

Jack made it look just as easy in the Mixed Open on the odds-on favourite Volnay de Thaix, timing his run to lead at the last fence and win going away by four lengths. His main opposition came from sister Gina, who picked up a spare ride on Early Retirement after Tom McClorey was still shaken after his mount had run out through the wing in the previous race. This was winner number 21 for young Jack.

Dicky Collinson returned to race-riding after suffering a concussion and a small fracture to his neck in a fall at Cottenham in February. Collinson was full of praise for the Injured Jockey's facility at Sir Peter O' Sullivan House in Newmarket for his recuperation and was also very complimentary about the High Easter course conditions, which produced 72 runners on the day. His mount, the Andrew Pennock-trained Luscious Lilly, stormed through to win the concluding Open Maiden. Several young horses with serious potential were unleashed here and Berties Escape, admittedly in receipt of 18lbs from most of his rivals, gave an extremely satisfying performance to finish third in the eyes of an ecstatic part-owner, Clerk of the Course Simon Marriage. Nigel Padfield's Howitsdone, who had run second in a recent Charing maiden, had to settle for the runner-up spot again but was only beaten a half a length. David Kemp's How To Get Away was up with the leading pack throughout but had run his race, this being his racecourse debut, when Dale Peters pulled him up approaching the last fence. The winner for the Pennock's was their 131st since moving to Timworth and has been achieved with not only dedicated hard work, but also the care and love for their horses being very much part of their daily routine.

Rocklander justified top rating in the The Jockey Club & Retraining of Racehorses Veteran Horse Conditions event and Dale Peters never experienced too many concerns, apart from having to side-step a fallen horse on the first circuit. The pairing took the race by the scruff of the neck at the final open ditch and comfortably repelled Thetalkinghorse by four lengths.

The opening Novice Riders contest went to Perfect Pirate, trained and ridden by Paige Topley, giving her a fourth success of the season and a winner on her initial visit to High Easter. Paige works for trainer Ben Pauling and Ben's wife, Sophie, owns Perfect Pirate, and the partnership were following up their Bangor-On Dee win in January in a similar event. The grey Master Ally tried to make all but eventually had to give way, with Earlshill and Lucy Burton the only other pairing able to challenge the winner, who prevailed by three lengths in the end.