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North Norfolk Harriers
Higham
Sunday 27th January 2008
by Simon McInnes

The North Norfolk have their meeting in South Suffolk, but after a clear run that meant getting there in plenty of time for an 11.00am start, which is an infringement of all our human rights, an accident on the A12 made the journey home seem like travelling back from Timbuctoo. The day went smoothly over seven races, then ended on an eventful note, like Detling 24 hours earlier. And like that other meeting, almost all of the the runners turned out fit and looking well. Some information may be lacking or suspect, as the two announcers were a bit inclined to go on air at the same time, and one, possibly a bit tired, was so lively, that he made Marvin the Paranoid Android sound like Graham Norton.

Going: Good (Good to Firm places) - probably!

Race 1: Grainfarmers PLC 5-7 year olds Open Maiden
1: Rydal Park 2: Basiliko 3: Like To Go
Winner owned: The Oak Partnership (Mrs H Robson), trained & ridden: David Kemp
With only one of the newcomers really catching the eye, Rydal Park's respectable novice hurdle form caught the eye, and he ran out a convincing and easy winner. It was not all plain sailing as he tended to jump a little right at times, and a lot right at most of the others. It was still enough to be well clear of Basiliko, who is running adequately in maidens without looking likely to win one. The appealing newcomer Activator, who had not followed his stable and owner-mate Balau to Detling, would have been third, but he was very tired in the closing stages and in the course of nearly refusing the last, he fell and was down for a while, winded. His immediate progress depends on how much he deems racing as something best left alone. Like To Go was with Rydal Park early and carried right in the air as a result. He liked it so much, that he did it even when behind later in the race.

Race 2: Dodson & Horrell Club Members, Novice Riders
1: High Rank 2: El Viejo 3: Itsallupintheair
Winner owned & trained: HJ Franklin, ridden: Jack Watson
A collection of novice riders and wily old veteran horses combined to produce a thrilling finish, as both the trainer and jockey of High Rank were recording their first wins. They got home by a neck from El Viejo, whose rider, Tom Cannon, made a very decent job of things on his first ride. After an unbeaten 2006, Alittlemoreaction had rather less impressive form last season of FP. His jumping was not especially fluent here, and he seems a tough job for a novice rider. Full brothers Nokimover and Major Blue failed to trouble the scorer, and for form correlation purposes, it should be observed that the first two were not amongst the group beaten by Supreme Sir at the last meeting here, three weeks earlier.

Race 3: Smiths Gore 8 year olds and up Open Maiden, Div I
1: Spanchil Hill 2: Nomadic Blaze 3: Vulcan's Ash
Winner owned: Mr S Benson & Mrs L Dace, trained: Mrs L Dace, ridden: Nick Pearce
The older horse maiden was one over the safety limit at declaration time, so we ended up with two eight runner races, which was nice as it gave two sets of connections the chance of a win with horses that had really not shown much inclination to do so in the past. Spanchil Hill had some moderately encouraging numbers by his name, but they had been acquired off of low weights in bottom drawer novice chases, and he had to work very hard to beat Nomadic Blaze, who had a similar profile under Rules. Not unlike his stablemates the day before, The Right People, making his debut for Joe Turner's team on the back of some fair hurdle form, ran a fairly lacklustre race, eventually pulling up.

Race 4: 8 year olds and up Open Maiden, Div II
1: Very Presentable 2: Sealed Orders 3: On The Deck
Winner owned & trained: Derek Harding-Jones, ridden: Matt Mackley
Someone did step in and sponsor the second division, but I did not catch the announcement clearly, so he/she/they will have to endure the warm glow of anonymous munificence. The winner was probably the outstanding candidate from the original entries, and Very Presentable delivered without difficulty, although nobody was going to retire on the proceeds of backing him. Triple runner up Magicastle had an off day, and that left two horses without too much to recommend them fighting it out for the minor honours. The only other finisher, Ridjit, did not jump well enough to stay in touch with them.

Race 5: Barratt & Cook Intermediate
1: Mr Tee Pee 2: Pro Am 3: Forget The Ref
Winner owned: The Teepee Club (A Barr), trained: Alan Hill, ridden: James Tudor
Despite beginning to look a bit timid in novice chases, The Teepee Club were obviously inspired enough by Mr Tee Pee being a UK-Jumping selection to give him another chance in points, and their conviction has been vindicated with this his third win of the season. Some opponents were close enough to worry him three out, but they could not and he was value for a bit more than he won by. This may have been Pro Am's best run yet as he took on better oppo than he is used to and was vanquished without being embarrassed. After a couple of early errors, Forget The Ref had to have a few reminders, but she at least responded, and stayed on fairly well in the end, to suggest she could win an Intermediate. The progressive, and extra large, Sovereign Quest unseated at the ninth, before showing how he would handle this tougher task. With his win here roundly insulted by his victims in the novice riders' race, and having been soundly thrashed himself since, Supreme Sir was, predictably, never in the race after it heated up.

Race 6: Grange Farm Holidays Men's Open
1: Kjetil 2: Another Dude 3: Star Double
Winner owned: Mrs ME Moody, trained: Gerald Bailey, ridden: Richard Barrett
This was an oddity of a race, although not a space one. There were several whose stamina was less than that of being out and out sloggers, so Higham was ideal for them. However, they set off at a cracking rate, and some of the dour stayers were taken off of their feet. Later on, one or two found their durability fading, and in the end, Kjetil was left clear by default to make his seasonal debut a winning one. As a hurdler, he put plenty of effort into earning insults, and he is not one to trust if he is under pressure late on - although his jumping seems sound enough. Another Dude went flat out for as long as possible and then struggled home, which is apparently his preferred tactics, despite them working but rarely. Amongst other fancied horses, Gunther McBride could not go the pace and Bel Ombre weakened quickly and pulled up at the thirteenth. Small mare Half Inch got a hefty bump at the first and either sulked or was intimidated* as a result, never travelling afterwards.
* Depending on whether you think she is to blame or responding perfectly reasonably.

Race 7: Birketts Solicitors Ladies' Open
1: Dumadic 2: Va Vavoom 3: Who Cares Wins
Winner owned: Gregory Wright, trained: Susan Busby, ridden: Hannah Watson
Like the Men's race, a frantic pace was set, and it produced a win for Dumadic, fairly unreservedly tipped by the commentator. His old pointing form was decent enough, and he had done well under Rules, only to look a bit stale before this return to his natural home gave him the taste for it again. Va Vavoom was a) a surprise favourite having fallen or unseated on three of his last four and b) likely to benefit confidence-wise from the clear round. Tartar Sabre was set for third when he took a fatal fall at the last. Following two good performances since switching from Rules, Fullards ran a very flat race this time - the going might have been a bit quicker for him.

Race 8: Stevensons of Norwich Countryside Alliance Club Members Conditions
1: Cantarinho 2: Lord Atterbury 3: Polar Scout
Winner owned: Mr MA Kemp & Mr D Kemp, trained & ridden: David Kemp
The betting caused a brief pause to consider the transitory nature of form. Cantarinho, competitor at the top level in points touched 6/4, Former elite pointer and Grand National favourite Lord Atterbury was around 12/1. And loitering at 3/1 was Peppershot, who peaked at a couple of places in desperate ground in juvenile hurdles at Plumpton, until he scaled the heights of a restricted win in points. And Peppershot was all set for victory when he blundered and unseated at the last. To the naked eye, it appeared that the horse had a change of mind as to which stride to take off on at the very last second. He put himself right, but failed to allow for the jockey. This left Cantarinho a lucky winner, but Lord Atterbury at least ran his best race in a while. As he was produced looking very fit, there is probably no improvement to come. Polar Scout and Resplendent Star were very far behind.

Plus Points
Very Presentable (race 4): Did not have much to beat, but passed the test convincingly, and can handle a certain amount of raising in class.
Pro Am (race 5): Rose in class and did not look out of place.
Dumadic (race 7): Signs of being revitalised to a degree that manufacturers of butter substitutes and active yoghurts can only dream of.

Down Arrows
Activator (race 1): Was going through the process of a pleasing debut when it ended in a fall at the last. He is probably worth a watching brief until proving that he has put the negatives behind him.
Alittlemoreaction (race 2): Is struggling a bit with the fluency of is jumping, and he is probably one to be wary of unless he has the benefit of a strong, experienced rider.
The Right People (race 4): Extremely disappointing and no obvious excuses.
Kjetil (race 6): Did not disprove here that he is not a fiasco waiting to happen, but it may take a decent opponent to stress him.

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